Slaanesh, also known as the Dark Prince, the Prince of Pleasure and even the Prince of Chaos in the Imperium of Man, is the Chaos God of Pleasure, Passion, and Decadence. Lust, pride and self-indulgence are the hallmarks of all who follow him. He is the youngest of the Chaos Gods, having come to full sentience within the Immaterium only during the 30th Millennium. While generally referred to as a “he” by humans and as a female by the Eldar, Slaanesh is actually neither gender, combining characteristics of both and perfecting them. Slaanesh typically appears in an androgynous form in which it is a woman on the right side and a man on the left with two sets of devilish horns growing from its head. Slaanesh can assume any form; male, female, hermaphrodite or asexual, but it prefers male bodies. Its sacred number is six and the colours associated with Slaanesh are purple, pink and black. The name Slaanesh is a corruption of the Eldar term Slaaneth (Slaa meaning “ecstasy” or “pleasure” and Neth meaning “lord” or “prince” in the Eldar Lexicon; hence, the Prince of Pleasure), though ironically, the Eldar refer to this foul entity only as “She Who Thirsts.”
Slaanesh is the Lord of Pleasure, the Dark God dedicated to the pursuit of earthly gratification and the overthrow of all decent behaviour, as well as hedonism and pleasure for its own sake. He is the God of Obsession, the Master of Excess in All Things, from gluttony to lust to megalomania. Wherever mortals are ruled by their own unquenchable desires, the Dark Prince of Chaos is there in the shadows, whispering, tempting, and feasting on a banquet of souls. But this is true in all things, not just carnal pleasures. Those who desire to indulge in the finest culinary delights, the most beautiful artworks, even the most sensual clothing, could all be amongst Slaanesh’s disciples. Just as importantly, Slaanesh is also the god of perfection. The singer striving for the most beautiful song or the warrior who seeks the perfect fighting techniques, both could be devotees of Slaanesh.
Slaanesh was given life by the immorality and hubris of the ancient Eldar empire. As their empire reached its zenith, the Eldar became lost in their own decadence, for they experience sensation and emotion to a far greater degree than any other intelligent species of the galaxy. The capabilities of their highly advanced technology meant that the Eldar did not need to labour or wage war. Instead, they were able to dedicate their lives to whatever idle pursuits took their fancy. Over several generations, this indolence came to rule and pervert their spirits. In the Immaterium, the collective psychic reflections of their indolence and hedonism caused a new Chaos Power to stir, beginning in the 25th Millennium of the Terran calendar. Created by one species’ pure dedication to indulgence, the first motes of what would become Slaanesh began to coalesce.
The dormant Slaanesh fed upon the unchecked collective psyche of the Eldar, drawing on their lusts and ambitions, their artistry and pursuit of excellence in all things. In turn, as Slaanesh grew, its nascent dreams trickled into the minds of the Eldar and fuelled their desires, pushing them ever onwards towards their eventual doom. Eventually, the Eldar civilisation devolved into little more than pleasure cults dedicated to every act of physical, mental and spiritual fulfillment. Blood stained the statuary of their plazas as crowds of drug-addled maniacs sated their violent desires in the streets of the Eldar homeworlds. On one particularly depraved night, the debauchery reached a terrible crescendo that tore out the heart of the Eldar empire and left it ravaged beyond recovery. The Fall of the Eldar in the early 30th Millennium was signalled by the birth-scream of Slaanesh, a tsunami of emotion that heralded the Prince of Pleasure arrival in the Realm of Chaos. The psychic implosion caised by Slaanesh’s birth swallowed hundreds of worlds at the heart of the Eldar empire in what is now the Imperium of Man’s Segmentum Obscurus, killing billions of Eldar in a single instant and devouring a great section of the galaxy in the process. Such was its ferocity that it overwhelmed the barrier between the material and the immaterial, forming the massive, permanent Warp rift later named by men as the Eye of Terror.
Rampant and hungry, Slaanesh devoured the minds and souls of the Eldar, and across the galaxy, that ancient race was almost wiped out. Slaanesh slew most of the Eldar and their Gods in the Immaterium, except for the Eldar God of War Kaela Mensha Khaine, whose energy was dispersed into many separate pieces scattered across the various Infinity Circuits of the Eldar Craftworlds, and the Laughing God Cegorach. Only a relative few Eldar survived Slaanesh’s birth-feast. Other Eldar survivors included the Harlequin, and those Craftworld Eldar who were very far away from the Eldar homeworlds when the Warp rift formed. Most of the survivors that remain have become sworn enemies of the Dark Prince, and yet a few of them have formed isolated cabals that still behave as their ancestors did, perversely following the downward spiral of excess.
That is how events are viewed from the chronology of the material universe. In the Warp, things are different, for the Immaterium is not bound by linear four-dimensional time, and events do not occur in a strict sequence of cause and effect. As his rival gods reckon it, Slaanesh has always existed in the Warp, and yet has never existed at all.
Some say that is it impossible for mortals to look upon the divine face of Slaanesh without losing their soul to him, for all who see it become willing slaves to the whims of the Dark Prince, embracing his ways with wild abandon. The mere knowledge of Slaanesh’s existence can cause a world to topple into corruption and hidden depravity. Not even the agents of the Inquisition know for sure how far his influence spreads, for wherever the lust for power and temporal gain exists, the talons of Slaanesh dig deep. Despite their best efforts, it is almost certain that the Imperium is rotten to the core, just as the Eldar empire was before it. How long before it succumbs to a similar fate?