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In recent 40k lore the chaos gods are described and depicted as unambiguously evil. Serving them does not offer any alternative to the terrible state of the imperium of man for example. As terrible as the imperium is, serving the chaos gods in 40k offers at best immortality and eternal servitude in demonhood as a demon prince or at worst, eternal torment. Literal hell. (though as a sidepoint we don't really know if sticking with the emperor actually protects one's soul in 40k, but that's another topic entirely)

In the earliest iterations of the lore (though im not sure anymore if it was the first iterations of fantasy or 40k I am referencing to) depicted the chaos gods and the traits they embody not as just unambiguously evil:

-khorne stood not only for bloodshed and brutality, but also for bravery and honor in single combat

-tzeench also embodied hope and progress, not only scheming and magic.

-slaanesh embodied not only lust and depravity, but the striving for perfection for example.

-nurgle brought not only desease and despair, but also comfort and being content with one's fate.

Would you enjoy GW embracing this kind of duality of the chaos gods more or do you like the way they are written now?

   
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Lit By the Flames of Prospero






Maybe? Honestly, I wouldn't want it framed as "the Chaos Gods are neutral, it's the aspect you worship that matters". Considering the state of the galaxy and what the War in Heaven did to the Warp, in 40k the Chaos Gods should be malevolent entities. Not evil, malevolent.
   
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 Gert wrote:
Maybe? Honestly, I wouldn't want it framed as "the Chaos Gods are neutral, it's the aspect you worship that matters". Considering the state of the galaxy and what the War in Heaven did to the Warp, in 40k the Chaos Gods should be malevolent entities. Not evil, malevolent.


I get that, but that's not what this old lore was going for imo. I think in that old lore the chaos gods were still meant to be predominantly evil, with some duality still being hinted at.
I personally think it makes them more interesting....though I'd also not like them being written as just neutral entities
   
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I would consider them more akin to entirely alien entity that are evil because entirely inhuman.
Chtulhu or the Lovercraftian pantheon is not evil per-se. It's simple evil because it's inhuman.

The same I think applies to Tyranids, or the Chaos God. They're hungry, and we're food.
A lion is always evil from the perspective of a gazelle.

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 Cybtroll wrote:
I would consider them more akin to entirely alien entity that are evil because entirely inhuman.
Chtulhu or the Lovercraftian pantheon is not evil per-se. It's simple evil because it's inhuman.

The same I think applies to Tyranids, or the Chaos God. They're hungry, and we're food.
A lion is always evil from the perspective of a gazelle.


I can't really say that I agree on the Lovecraftian aspect because entities in cosmic horror are defined by their unknowable, utterly alien nature. The chaos gods however have always been very personal gods that take great interest in the behavior of certain mortals. Their motives are also mostly straightforward.
I would definitely not place them among such entities as cthulhu. The tyranid hive mind is more Lovecraftian, except for the fact that it has a very clear motivation.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/07/07 13:26:24


 
   
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I think the surface level of 40K has always been humans good chaos evil but then if take the time to dig deeper into the setting there is nothing about the imperium that you could condone beyond the fact that they are humans and this is their method of survival at all costs. So you might sympathise as the reader is also a human. I assume.

But in the 40K universe is really just survival of the fittest. And the warp is just another set of dimensions in which humans exists and their emotions are manifest. If all humans were kinder and more loving and happy, and these were the predominant emotion felt by the entire race then they would manifest much nicer chaos gods. Like how the Orks created Gork and Mork. But in 40K humans are nasty and violent and narcissistic so if chaos gods are evil it’s only because humans are are evil. (And eldar)
   
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mrFickle wrote:
I think the surface level of 40K has always been humans good chaos evil but then if take the time to dig deeper into the setting there is nothing about the imperium that you could condone beyond the fact that they are humans and this is their method of survival at all costs. So you might sympathise as the reader is also a human. I assume.

But in the 40K universe is really just survival of the fittest. And the warp is just another set of dimensions in which humans exists and their emotions are manifest. If all humans were kinder and more loving and happy, and these were the predominant emotion felt by the entire race then they would manifest much nicer chaos gods. Like how the Orks created Gork and Mork. But in 40K humans are nasty and violent and narcissistic so if chaos gods are evil it’s only because humans are are evil. (And eldar)


Agreed, but to be fair the warp and the chaos gods turned into a nasty reflection of human/eldar psyche waaaaay before the imperium of man as we know it now in 40k.
Hell I mean doombreed, one of the first demon princes of khorne was implied to be genghis khan in old lore. Humanity was fethed a long time ago even in 40k lore.
   
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The Warp is only a hellscape because of the War in Heaven. It was so cataclysmic that it ruined the ethereal plane forever and where before Psykers could use the Warp without any real fear, now they had Daemons, Enslavers, and other horrors to worry about, not to mention the Gods themselves.
   
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 Gert wrote:
The Warp is only a hellscape because of the War in Heaven. It was so cataclysmic that it ruined the ethereal plane forever and where before Psykers could use the Warp without any real fear, now they had Daemons, Enslavers, and other horrors to worry about, not to mention the Gods themselves.


So it was the necrons all along!

At least thats how I remember the story behind the war in heaven: Necrontyr being pissed about the old ones not sharing the secret to immortality....cue cruel and hungry star gods, chaos gods, demons, enslavers and millions of years of overall misery. Damn those robo skeletons
   
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It's more the Old Ones than the Necrons. The Old Ones were so obsessed with keeping order that they wouldn't save the Necrontyr from a fate, not of their making, which in turn led the Necrontyr to a desperate war to attain the technology that would save their race. Then the C'tan get involved, in fact, it might have even been the fault of the C'tan that the Necron home star was so poisonous in the first place. The Old Ones use Warp power to beat the C'tan/Necrons, the C'tan/Necrons used hundreds of doomsday weapons. The war kills trillions and pollutes the Warp with their hatred, fear, and despair. Both sides lose in the end.
   
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My understanding isn't that the ideas they represent are necessarily bad on their own, but the Chaos Gods are echo chambers, and amplify emotions and desires, drowning out others, and taking their own (in their followers) to horrific extremes.

It can be a slippery slope, where things start off okay, but before you know it things get bad really quick, and the recipients of the gods blessings are unaware of the changes happening to them, and their personalities, as the change is gradual, and by the time you realize what's happening it's too late.

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The chaos gods are and always have been manifestations of pure emotion. So for Khorne it’s all the aggressive emotions but one mans rage is another’s mans bravery and valour. Anger and hatred can be righteous in the right circumstances. Good or evil is just in the eye of the beholder. Emotions them selves aren’t good or evil on their own. Hence he chaos gods aren’t. They are just emotion so equally neither good nor evil.
   
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There aren’t any.

Chaos corrupts. One might start out on the Noble side of the obsession. But over time? You become corrupt.

Take Khorne. You may start off as a duellist, only duelling those you consider of equal skill. When you’ve proven yourself the best duellist? You feel the need to prove it, time and time again. You start duelling “lesser” opponents. And enjoy every bead of blood drawn. A few steps more? Damnation awaits. Because your god is insane.

Take Nurgle. You’re a healer. You want to help people and cure them. At first, you can. Then, the best you can do alleviate the symptoms. And in many cases, that’s good enough. But you like the praise and privilege that comes from your “miracles”….and so you start spreading the disease just to have more people to cure.

Tzeentch? Arguably more simple. The (often justified) desire to Change the status quo, becomes a desire to usurp and replace the status quo. To impose your will, formenting future rebellion and political turmoil.

Slaanesh? Right. First of all. Not all about Boobies. Or “How’s Your Father”. Slaanesh is a god of excess, and pride.. Excess and pride of any kind. An immature drinking competition might lead to alcoholism. Using narcotics because everyone else seemed to be having a great time turns to hopeless addiction. Doing your best at work becomes Having To Be The Best, even if it means murdering those in the strata above you.

Chaos is arguably the corruption of Noble Ideals. The path to hell paved in good intentions, just with an evil, unfathomable will driving you ever deeper into its service.

Are the Chaos Gods actually evil in themselves? I’d argue no, on account each is so far beyond our mortal comprehension, we can’t apply our morality to them. But we can say that for those who dare to treat with them? The gods are utterly, utterly insane.

What please god A on one day, might see you be struck down on the next.

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Andykp wrote:
The chaos gods are and always have been manifestations of pure emotion. So for Khorne it’s all the aggressive emotions but one mans rage is another’s mans bravery and valour. Anger and hatred can be righteous in the right circumstances. Good or evil is just in the eye of the beholder. Emotions them selves aren’t good or evil on their own. Hence he chaos gods aren’t. They are just emotion so equally neither good nor evil.


While I think you expressed that beautifully, I don't agree that that's how the chaos gods are depicted in recent lore. That other side of the coin is never shown, not even hinted at. The chaos gods are depicted as having clear agency, being very personal gods and also being utterly evil for the sake of it.
Sure, they are basically forces of nature and molded by eons of bloodshed and suffering, but by that logic they should also be molded, at least in very small parts, by episodes of human decency and bravery for example, but that side never shows.
Maybe it could be interpreted that these small episodes of decency resonating in the warp are just small drops in an ocean of cruelty and thus having no effect on the personality of the chaos gods....or something like that.
   
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Tiberias wrote:
Andykp wrote:
The chaos gods are and always have been manifestations of pure emotion. So for Khorne it’s all the aggressive emotions but one mans rage is another’s mans bravery and valour. Anger and hatred can be righteous in the right circumstances. Good or evil is just in the eye of the beholder. Emotions them selves aren’t good or evil on their own. Hence he chaos gods aren’t. They are just emotion so equally neither good nor evil.


While I think you expressed that beautifully, I don't agree that that's how the chaos gods are depicted in recent lore. That other side of the coin is never shown, not even hinted at. The chaos gods are depicted as having clear agency, being very personal gods and also being utterly evil for the sake of it.
Sure, they are basically forces of nature and molded by eons of bloodshed and suffering, but by that logic they should also be molded, at least in very small parts, by episodes of human decency and bravery for example, but that side never shows.
Maybe it could be interpreted that these small episodes of decency resonating in the warp are just small drops in an ocean of cruelty and thus having no effect on the personality of the chaos gods....or something like that.


I agree the depictions of late are more one dimensional and that’s a shame. Take Khorne again, it used to be about killing but honour and martial pride etc, now it’s all’s blood blood blood and skulls skulls skulls! And folk slaughtering their colleagues for the sake of it. Generally over all 40K has had to dumb down and has lost nuance over the years.
   
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Andykp wrote:
Tiberias wrote:
Andykp wrote:
The chaos gods are and always have been manifestations of pure emotion. So for Khorne it’s all the aggressive emotions but one mans rage is another’s mans bravery and valour. Anger and hatred can be righteous in the right circumstances. Good or evil is just in the eye of the beholder. Emotions them selves aren’t good or evil on their own. Hence he chaos gods aren’t. They are just emotion so equally neither good nor evil.


While I think you expressed that beautifully, I don't agree that that's how the chaos gods are depicted in recent lore. That other side of the coin is never shown, not even hinted at. The chaos gods are depicted as having clear agency, being very personal gods and also being utterly evil for the sake of it.
Sure, they are basically forces of nature and molded by eons of bloodshed and suffering, but by that logic they should also be molded, at least in very small parts, by episodes of human decency and bravery for example, but that side never shows.
Maybe it could be interpreted that these small episodes of decency resonating in the warp are just small drops in an ocean of cruelty and thus having no effect on the personality of the chaos gods....or something like that.


I agree the depictions of late are more one dimensional and that’s a shame. Take Khorne again, it used to be about killing but honour and martial pride etc, now it’s all’s blood blood blood and skulls skulls skulls! And folk slaughtering their colleagues for the sake of it. Generally over all 40K has had to dumb down and has lost nuance over the years.


I think blood for the blood god and the the throne of skulls has always been part of khorne from day one. But your are right there are different aspects to all gods and their worship. The emperors children could have turned to khorne if they were all about e perfection of their art of war but the were so many mor elements to their vain personalities. It wasn’t just about being great warriors and taking down the enemy though, they could never achieve perfection so the constantly worked to find another level beyond what they already achieved and that led to their corruption. They were never satisfied.

But if you want to quickly and easily market chaos then it’s just sleazy to say khorne blood, nurgle is gross, tzeench is magic and slaneesh is mr fancy pants
   
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The Chaos Gods still all have their positive characteristics. Chaos cults wouldn't be nearly as widespread as they are if worshiping Chaos wasn't attractive. Khorne can grant you strength and revenge, Tzeentch can grant you wisdom and social advancement, Nurgle can grant you health, Slaanesh can grant you skills and wealth etc.

It is just that since 40K is a wargame and all, we don't often see this side of Chaos explored. Just like we don't see a lot of civilian life in the Imperium or the doctrines and theology of the Ecclesiarchy. Like we know they worship the Emperor, but the how and why of their religion is rarely elaborated. In general, a lot of 40K fluff is pretty superficial. The deeper motivations of people are not often explored.

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2021/07/08 10:57:36


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mrFickle wrote:
Andykp wrote:
Tiberias wrote:
Andykp wrote:
The chaos gods are and always have been manifestations of pure emotion. So for Khorne it’s all the aggressive emotions but one mans rage is another’s mans bravery and valour. Anger and hatred can be righteous in the right circumstances. Good or evil is just in the eye of the beholder. Emotions them selves aren’t good or evil on their own. Hence he chaos gods aren’t. They are just emotion so equally neither good nor evil.


While I think you expressed that beautifully, I don't agree that that's how the chaos gods are depicted in recent lore. That other side of the coin is never shown, not even hinted at. The chaos gods are depicted as having clear agency, being very personal gods and also being utterly evil for the sake of it.
Sure, they are basically forces of nature and molded by eons of bloodshed and suffering, but by that logic they should also be molded, at least in very small parts, by episodes of human decency and bravery for example, but that side never shows.
Maybe it could be interpreted that these small episodes of decency resonating in the warp are just small drops in an ocean of cruelty and thus having no effect on the personality of the chaos gods....or something like that.


I agree the depictions of late are more one dimensional and that’s a shame. Take Khorne again, it used to be about killing but honour and martial pride etc, now it’s all’s blood blood blood and skulls skulls skulls! And folk slaughtering their colleagues for the sake of it. Generally over all 40K has had to dumb down and has lost nuance over the years.


I think blood for the blood god and the the throne of skulls has always been part of khorne from day one. But your are right there are different aspects to all gods and their worship. The emperors children could have turned to khorne if they were all about e perfection of their art of war but the were so many mor elements to their vain personalities. It wasn’t just about being great warriors and taking down the enemy though, they could never achieve perfection so the constantly worked to find another level beyond what they already achieved and that led to their corruption. They were never satisfied.

But if you want to quickly and easily market chaos then it’s just sleazy to say khorne blood, nurgle is gross, tzeench is magic and slaneesh is mr fancy pants


The blood and skulls have always been there but it wasn’t just blood for the sake of it and skulls for sake of it. It wasn’t all it was about. In the early days someone who slaughters prisoners or comrades wouldn’t gain the favour of Khorne. Now his greatest champions are all skulls and blood and not much else. Kharne is a joke and the skull taker with his cloak of skulls and skull everything.
   
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I agree, the chaos gods have been flanderised over time, perhaps Khorne more than anyone.

I like to imagine that what we see on the tabletop is only the most extreme beliefs of the gods. People don't fall in that deep right off the bat, unless they have other major issues.
   
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The darker aspects of the Gods make for better design choices. A bloated and plague-ridden Nurglite is much more visually exciting than a normal guy just wearing some green.
   
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FWIW, I've been in the hobby for about 20 years, and for the full time I've been a part of it, people have been talking about how Khorne was "more than mindless killing." Look at Kharne, the main khorne character since, what, 1996? His shtick is literally "so bloodthirsty he's willing to kill his own men," and that that shtick is so integral it's reflected in his rules!

I'm not saying it's not true, but I think it's time we realized that, yes, Khorne is about blood for the sake of blood. That's the whole point, isn't it? He's not a war god, he's the god of slaughter.

Now, where I think people get a little confused is that there was a bit more nuance to the corruption aspect of it. Yes, Khorne was always about mindless slaughter, but there were stories about how he could seduce previously honorable warriors or elite soldiers to care more about the violence itself than anything else. the idea is that bloodshed, no matter how justified or proper, could lead to Khorne worship.

and that's why there aren't really "positive" aspects of the Chaos gods. they are, basically by definition, manifestations of the worst, more extreme, and most excessive parts of positive things. there are positives to martial prowess, or seeking perfection, but there simply aren't positives to losing oneself in those pursuits.


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i think if the world eaters ever got a seperate codex, they might be able to "rehab" the Khornate lore a little with a depiction of a khornate army that is bloodthristy, yes, but still a ARMY, with all the structure and discipline that implies. they fight in a controlled manner, using that bloodrage when needed, and turning it down a notch out of melee so they can make better tactical choices. They have guns, but favour assault weapons that can be fired on the advance, and specifically ones that create a bloody mess. they dislike flamers and many energy weapons because they cauterise wounds and stop the blood flow. they have a recognisable rank structure and chain of command, naturally built on personal skill at combat, but still a hierarchy to direct the legion to the maximise slaughter.

certianly, the AOS armies of khorne have that vibe, so its not impossible.

as to the positive aspects of chaos, i tend to think that they are, at best, "gateway drugs" to the extremist elements of chaos.

They have those aspects, yes, but choas, above all other things, is a corrupting influence, and any prolonged exsposure to it is sure to drive a being closer and closer to madness.

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Were those positive aspects definitely worded in that way where they're inherent aspects of them in a positives sense? I was under the impression that the Chaos Gods were all about extremes, and so while those 'positive' things were relevant, the point of the Chaos gods was those things end up being taken further and further until they reach the usual level they're shown with.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/07/15 18:50:03


 
   
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Tiberias wrote:

Would you enjoy GW embracing this kind of duality of the chaos gods more or do you like the way they are written now?



I think that if Chaos mortals were ever fleshed out, it was benefit GW greatly to embrace the conflicting nature of the chaos gods.

There are worlds in realspace that have been under the sway of Chaos for generations. The people of those worlds grew up knowing nothing of the Imperium except it's ruled by a deranged cult that worships a dead guy and they want to come in and literally burn your world to ash and murder everyone you know and love.

By promoting the Chaos gods as something other than mindless, evil monsters, GW can create a scenario where it's downright scary how appealing Chaos could be. Khorne the god of blood? Well, only to the Imperium! To a regimented and disciplined army fighting to protect their loved ones, Khorne can be the god of battle, victory, and honor, a being that can give them the strength to resist the overwhelming might of the Imperium. Perhaps fighter pilots pray to Khorne every time they go out on a sortie to strafe an Imperial cruiser. A healer could pray to Nurgle to take the pain away from the sick or starving. A firebrand could pray to Tzeentch and Slaanesh for the passion and guidance to lead an uprising to free people from enslavement.

Because when you think about it, if all of Chaos were just "MAIM KILL BURN" over and over, they would cease to be a reasonable threat after a few years as they wouldn't be able to be functional armies. By making them appealing and relatable, GW can open the door and say this is chaos, this is why it's feared, because it's insidious. It can give you what you want in a very real way, and unlike with the Imperium, chaos can visibly manifest in very profound and undeniable ways.

THEN they can use that to twist in the tragedy bit and turn the whole thing into not the gods overly changing you into a monster, but a person doing it to themselves by inches.
   
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 Cybtroll wrote:
I would consider them more akin to entirely alien entity that are evil because entirely inhuman.


The warp is influenced by the emotions of living beings. The Chaos gods represent extreme emotional states, but they're as human as it gets - in the old lore they (except for Slaanesh) were the product of the human psyche, specifically.


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You'll notice that there was a push in GW to de-emphasize the CSM legions and focus only on more recently renegade Astartes, over complaints from the fanbase. GW doesn't want to answer this question, as it distracts from the overpushed heroism of loyalist Astartes.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/07/16 02:09:11


 
   
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Hecaton wrote:
You'll notice that there was a push in GW to de-emphasize the CSM legions and focus only on more recently renegade Astartes, over complaints from the fanbase. GW doesn't want to answer this question, as it distracts from the overpushed heroism of loyalist Astartes.

? This is demonstrably untrue, the most active Chaos Marines in the lore over the past couple years have been Death Guard followed by Black Legion. Renegades haven't gotten top billing in a major story in quite some time.

As for the OP's question, the chaos gods kinda have to be as evil as possible because they exist in a setting that is as evil as possible. For the average Imperium citzen, Grandpappy Nurgle telling you to embrace entropy with a smile makes a lot of sense; on the other hand, you might be more drawn to a Tzeentchian philosophy that this cannot continue, and that anything would be better than the status quo.
   
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mrFickle wrote:
I think the surface level of 40K has always been humans good chaos evil but then if take the time to dig deeper into the setting there is nothing about the imperium that you could condone beyond the fact that they are humans and this is their method of survival at all costs. So you might sympathise as the reader is also a human. I assume.

But in the 40K universe is really just survival of the fittest. And the warp is just another set of dimensions in which humans exists and their emotions are manifest. If all humans were kinder and more loving and happy, and these were the predominant emotion felt by the entire race then they would manifest much nicer chaos gods. Like how the Orks created Gork and Mork. But in 40K humans are nasty and violent and narcissistic so if chaos gods are evil it’s only because humans are are evil. (And eldar)


Brilliant post. Since the current encarnation of the chaos gods is basically the projection in the warp of all the miseries brought by the IOM its pretty misleading to paint one side as the good guys protagonist and the others as the bad guys antagonists.
   
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 Arachnofiend wrote:

? This is demonstrably untrue, the most active Chaos Marines in the lore over the past couple years have been Death Guard followed by Black Legion. Renegades haven't gotten top billing in a major story in quite some time.


That's why I said "there was" not "there is"- but you'll notice that, save for during the 3.5 codex era, Loyalist Astartes have always had more options than CSM.
   
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Thats because Loyalist SM are the flagship poster faction of 40k. Every single army in the game has less options than SM, its not a CSM exclusive issue.
   
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It comes down to time for me. The positive aspects are as much a part of the gods as the extremes they lead to. They have to be, or it just makes no narrative sense. Khorne cultists in particular would be committing suicide because BLUUD and all that.
Narratively it can take years, decades even hundred of years to reach the extremes GW (and the memes perhaps even more so) promote. But that also means that any moment in time there are whole cults/societies offering praise to the positive aspects.
So those must have an affect on the chaos gods, which are nothing but emotions made manifest.

Problem is, it only really makes sense to address it narratively, in game terms it's only really interesting once you have people that have gone of the deep end. Then you see gifts, mutations, wild designs etc.
And the gods don't do "reasonable". They demand more and and emotions/worship, with no end in sight. The extreme aspects rub off on their followers over time and shift their perspectives, ever nudging them to fall deeper into damnation.
It's been said multiple of time, the corrupting influence is unavoidable given enough time.

GW seems to be promoting the low hanging fruit the most though, plus the factions they sell are chaos astartes and actual daemons, two factions that are way beyond any kind of positive aspects.
   
 
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