Nurgle cults - what defines them?

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makrellen
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I am looking for inspiration for a Nurgle cult in my game.

What drives them? What would a member be before joining? How would they recruit?

Pointers to official material is great but I would rather hear how you have defined them in your games.
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totsuzenheni
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Doctors who think that the disease is better than the cure, or could be a cure. Recently, in the real world, a new science, looking at the intestinal microbiome, has been developing, and 'fecal microbiota transplants' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fecal_mic ... transplant) have been taking place with some medicinal success. The practice is new (and i would suppose somewhat more (easily) sanitised) in modern western medicine, but 'yellow soup' has been used in India and China for some time apparently. There are cases of people who can't afford such treatments getting a friend to (regularly) donate. There are theories that there is some benefit to the anus, and it's residual microbiota, being so close to vagina and the process of giving birth. Good shit, in the literal sense. What's old is poo again.

Those afflicted with disease that would prefer to see their affliction as a strength, or a trial, or a transformation, or at least something with purpose or promise, rather than simply as a slow and inevitable decline or a debilitator or a social ill. I would reference every individual who continues to convince themselves that their particular diet or 'poison' isn't doing them any harm despite, or in ignorance of, all the evidence to the contrary. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Do not underestimate what sick people might be prepared to do, and bear in mind what sickness can do to undermine reason with desperation, degradation, and distraction. If someone can think it someone can do it. If chaos and Nurgle are involved then i would suppose that even the laws of physics need not be an impediment indefinitely.
Last edited by totsuzenheni on Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
makrellen
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I like the idea about believing that the disease is the cure in itself (maybe to eternal life? Or bringing loved ones back?).

Good stuff - thanks!
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Angelman
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Being in the process of finishing up a big Nurlge campaign, my take on such cults (for which there are three cooperating groups in my game) is that they are profoundly tragic. Some disease victims join as a last resort, hoping to cling on to life by pledging their soul and service to the Plague Lord. Others join due to an unbridled rage at the unfairness of disease, driven by an urge to punish the world/society/Shallya/whatnot. Yet others are duped, lured by a promise of plague cures or other benefit, only to discover the initiation inflicts them with a horrible disease that the cult leader keeps in check through magic if they do his bidding. In addition, biochemical warfare was a thing in my campaign, with one doctor duped into joining because of his radical disertation on plague as a weapon of war for the Imperial Armies, and its peace-time effectiveness in weeding out the lower stratum of society - he was basically a pawn, thinking himself on the way to a great medical career, possibly in the private (i.e. military) sphere.

So yeah... tragicly evil is my go-to assumption for Nurlge cultists.
makrellen
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I am so stealing the "initiation gets you infected but staying in the cult will keep it supressed". Great idea - thanks!

And I will definitely also have a tragic spin on my cult - the leader is plotting his own and Nulns destruction through opening a portal for Nurgle himself.
Capitaneus Fractus
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The Chaos god Nurgle was inspired by the Mesopotamian god Nergal:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nergal

So, there might perhaps be an use to retro-inspire from Nergal Nurgle's cults.

On official sources:
All the Chaos gods are embodiments of the hopes, fears and other strong emotions and concepts generated by the mortal races. In Nurgle's case, the source of power is insecurity, denial, self-delusion and the living's fear of inevitable death and disease, as well as their unconscious response to that fear, which is the "power of life", the motivating power of mankind and other races. Nurgle coaxes new worshippers into his fold by stripping them of any other options, inflicting a spiritual tain upon the populace that is reflected outwardly as disease and pestilence. The desperate, ostracized and dying come to Nurgle to find alleviation from their pain. To these potential devotees, Nurgle provides not redemption from their ailments, but rather comfort within their suffering. Those blessed by Nurgle are granted relief from physical pain as well as a bizarre satisfaction in their depressive state. It is a twisting of a being's perceived reality, turning delusion and denial into truth and acceptance, just as self-respect and vanity turn into monstrous self-satisfaction.[17b][18a][18b][18c]

Nurgle and his daemons, in contrast to their putrid appearance, are jovial and friendly in demeanor. His daemon servants and mortal followers usually demonstrate a disturbing joviality and joy at the pestilence that he inflicts, seeing the plagues as gifts and the cries of their victims as gratitude rather than agony. This is demonstrated on the Daemon World of Bubonicus, where an endless chain of crazed revellers circle the planet's equator in a never-ending dance.[17c]

Nurgle is often referred to as Grandfather Nurgle,[10a] Father Nurgle or Papa Nurgle by his followers because of his paternal nature.[Needs Citation]

His main enemy is Tzeentch, the Lord of Change, because their power comes from opposing sources. Tzeentch is hope and ambition, while Nurgle is defiance born of despair and hopelessness.[17b]

Like the other Chaos Gods, Nurgle has a multitude of followers across the galaxy, drawn from all mortal species.

The followers of Nurgle often pit themselves against those of Tzeentch in complex political intrigues, forever attempting to mire his schemes for change with dull-minded conservationisms and parochial self-interest. Their influence is often successful in thwarting Tzeentch, knowing that whatever survives the collapse into entropy becomes theirs.[4b]

The church of the Fly Lord is always open to all.[4a]
https://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Nurgle
Veniam, Duelli Malleum, phantasticum ludum personae uidebo, in fera terra periculosorum aduenturorum ludebam.
Zisse
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Just a quick idea: what about hypochondriacs assembling in a cult, because there someone finally takes them seriously?
makrellen
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I had no idea that Nurgle drew inspiration from a Mesopotamian god - that's good info. I usually like to make my Warhammer lore as close to real-life history as possible so that is a good way to get inspired.

Thanks!
makrellen
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Zisse wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:47 am
Just a quick idea: what about hypochondriacs assembling in a cult, because there someone finally takes them seriously?
That would be fun but not really in-line with the overall wibe of the campaign. It's definately more rooted in humans taking all the wrong choices and suffering the consequences.
makrellen
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Zisse wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:47 am
Just a quick idea: what about hypochondriacs assembling in a cult, because there someone finally takes them seriously?
But still - thanks for pitching in 😊
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Hyarion
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What about disaffected priests/priestesses of Shallaya who want to alleviate disease in an area by distracting Nurgle to other places?
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Orin J.
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Hyarion wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:34 pm
What about disaffected priests/priestesses of Shallaya who want to alleviate disease in an area by distracting Nurgle to other places?
isn't "fuck up nurgle's boys" the only exception to their "do no harm" rule?
Knight of the Lady
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I usually see Nurgle cults as being pretty populist and so in a kind of opposition to the more elitist Tzeentch and Slaanesh cults. Hence I often angle their messages with some vague populist ideas and sentiments (mostly because I want something more to Nurgle than shock value and "look at me, I have bad hygine!" lines to them) and so far that has run pretty well.

Everyone's welcome into Nurgle's embrace and he don't discriminate or plays favorites like the rest. There's pestilent love for all in his hugs!
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Orin J.
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anyways i only just now bothered to check the original post-
makrellen wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:29 am
I am looking for inspiration for a Nurgle cult in my game.

What drives them? What would a member be before joining? How would they recruit?

Pointers to official material is great but I would rather hear how you have defined them in your games.
i think you're handling the whole thing backwards: the first thing you need to do is figure out the person leading the(at branch of the) cult. the chaos gods are fairly flexible and it's usually the people trying to get something out of them that provide the drive in a cult, so job one is to figure out who's in charge and why they went down the path of chaos worship. after that, the questions you asked should be much easier to figure out.

if you're just after a generic throwaway cult though, nurgle cults are always partly motivated by the spread of plagues and apathy (as apathy helps them spread plauges) and see themselves as getting rewarded for helping along what was inevitable anyways.
makrellen
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Good point on defining the cult from the leader. I am in that process right now (using input from this thread). Right now I am leaning towards a human military cook who ends both infecting all of the company he is in and gaining some of them as followers as he runs for the hills...
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Toby Pilling
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I remember having a conversation with Theo at a previous TOBCON about the problems I had imaging why anyone would worship Nurgle. He made the interesting point that the fiction depicts followers and demons of Nurgle in an often joyous state - frolicking about in Grandfather Nurgle's garden. There is this idea therefore of ecstatic release and abandon, free from the pain and torment at last. I'd never thought of it that way, but it makes sense.
Whymme
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You may want to look into Typhoid Mary - a cook for wealthy New York families round the turn of the nineteenth century, who carried the bacteria that caused typhoid fever and spread it among the families that employed her, but she herself was immune to the disease. When one family died, she would find work with another one.
Knight of the Lady wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:14 am
I usually see Nurgle cults as being pretty populist and so in a kind of opposition to the more elitist Tzeentch and Slaanesh cults. Hence I often angle their messages with some vague populist ideas and sentiments (mostly because I want something more to Nurgle than shock value and "look at me, I have bad hygine!" lines to them) and so far that has run pretty well.
I am a bit surprised by the link of Tzeentch to the elite - I would expect him to have followers among the wretched lower classes of society, who crave for change. The elite generally are pretty content where they are and would favour stability. But that aside.
Karanthir
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Whymme wrote:
Tue Feb 25, 2020 2:09 am
I am a bit surprised by the link of Tzeentch to the elite - I would expect him to have followers among the wretched lower classes of society, who crave for change. The elite generally are pretty content where they are and would favour stability. But that aside.
I guess it depends whether you're worshipping Tzeentch for the magic (elites, although potentially non-College witches and sorcerers as well) or for change (lower class agitators, but again, potentially wealthy merchants seeking to overthrow the nobility). Slaanesh is probably the most unambiguously 'elite' of the Chaos gods, although I'm sure someone will come up with examples of lower class Slaanesh worshippers.
Capitaneus Fractus
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The elite might (and does) also happen to want to see changes... Remember that the French Great Revolution (1787-1815) started in 1787 with the Aristocratic insurrection against Despotism. The success of the Aristocratic Nobility, the social elite, against the king of France and his ministers, to force them to call General Estates in 1789 was the steps that allowed the Aristocratic Bourgeoisie, the economical and financial elite, to enter into the dance and to divert the course from what had initially thought the aristocratic nobility...

Being a social elite, the Aristocratic Nobility wanted to be again a political and feudal elite, like it was in the classical Middle Ages.
Being an economical and financial elite, the Aristocratic Bourgeoisie wanted to be a social and political elite, like it never was.

It then evolved in favour of the middle bourgeoisie, represented by movements such as the Montagnards, and the petty bourgeoisie, constituted by the sans-culottes... but its started from the most elitists strata of the Ancient Régime's society, themselves willing to get more political, social and economical powers... In year VIII, elites exhausted by many years of conflicts renounced to their political elitism, and accepted Bonaparte's permanent dictatorship, as long as they were strengthened in their social, economical and financial elitism.

Few words on the aristocratic steps of the Great Revolution: https://books.google.fr/books?id=6JYCqQlXq80C&pg=PA13

So, to close this historical parenthesis, the Imperial elites are very diverses: compare the petty noble who live pretty much like his peasants -except that he command them- or the free imperial knight reduced to armed robbery, with the Elector Prince at the head of an imperial circle; compare the petty clergyman who live in very humble conditions with the Great Theogonist of Altdorf; compare the petty bourgeois who employ himself in his own shop, or who live pretty much like his own workers -except that he command and pay them- with the important Patrician to whom the Emperor have huge financial debts...
And in their diversity, they aren't necessary very much content with the current state of the Empire. Certainly because, like most of people does, they rarely compare their situation with beggars' but rather with even higher social classes. And even Elector Princes can compare themselves with the first of them: the Emperor.
Veniam, Duelli Malleum, phantasticum ludum personae uidebo, in fera terra periculosorum aduenturorum ludebam.
Knight of the Lady
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Whymme wrote:
Tue Feb 25, 2020 2:09 am
I am a bit surprised by the link of Tzeentch to the elite - I would expect him to have followers among the wretched lower classes of society, who crave for change. The elite generally are pretty content where they are and would favour stability. But that aside.
Well, it was both in regards to from where the Tzeentchians recruit people and also how I see that most Tzeentch cults are, or tend to be, structured. Now this may of course have to do with how I personally have encountered Tzeentch cults, but so far they have seemed to be and I imagine them as pretty elitistic.

Since the historical examples of wealthy people seeking change to gain more, I'll elaborate on my personal views and experience with Tzeentch cults.

The way I see Tzeentch cults is that they are about the "Tzeentchian Dream" that contrary to all the people who never make it past lowly cultist, YOU, can do it if you work hard enough and serve your magos well enough.

And some are indeed raised up by the magos to keep the scheme going but its never about hard work but rather dumb loyalty, the right level of competence to do things but not threaten the magos and that the magos can play them and so prevent them from actually becoming a threat to him. Hence I tend to see, and have experienced in the games I've played in, Tzeentch cults as being very much so of a privilaged elite who runs the thing, soaks up the benefits and sets the goals of the cult. The rest of the cultists are on the other hand fed to think that they can also one day join that little elite and gain sorcerous power if they just give it their all.

Not to mention that unlike the other Chaos gods where a guy off the street can still have the fatalism for Nurgle, the killer instict for Khorne or the decadence for Slaanesh, you probably need to start with some privilaged stuff in the Old World, like an education in the letters or such, to do things that gains Tzeentch's attention.

But I also understand that this is my personally take and experience on this subject so I realize that others may well have different opinions and experiences.
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