- "A seething, roaring, stinking mass of hair and muscle, sprinting and bounding towards us..."
- —The Trial of Helmut Eisner[1a]
Chaos Warhounds are large, horrific creatures that were mutated by the powers of Chaos and now stalk the dark lands of the Old World in search of prey. They often stalk around encampments searching for scraps and lone creatures to attack. Their red, evil glinting eyes peer from the treeline, and saliva pools upon the litter-strewn ground as they taste the air for the scent of their next victim. Many a lone patrolman traveling in the woods at night has shivered at the sound of baleful howling in the distance, only to be confronted by the low growling of the pack that has crept up behind him whilst he was distracted.[1a]
Drawn to the lure of fresh meat, Warhounds often prowl around encampments searching for lone or vulnerable creatures to attack. These slinking predators have an innate connection with the Beastmen of the forests, and freely wander through the filthy and bonestrewn encampments that serve as lairs for each warherd. Gradually the Warhounds become as much a part of the herd as any Gor. Some Beastmen deliberately rear these vicious attack beasts, training them for battle, though they can never be truly tamed. Through all manner of cruel mistreatments the Warhounds are conditioned to display particular characteristics, such as aggression and speed - not that they need much encouragement.[1a]
When a warherd discovers intruders onto their bloodgrounds that are too weak or too few to require the calling of an entire brayherd, they often launch a great hunt. Horns are sounded and the tribe crashes through the undergrowth in pursuit, with the Warhounds out in front, snapping and snarling at the heels of the unfortunate prey. On such occasions the Beastmen make no attempt to encircle the foe, for they enjoy the chase too much. Rather, they drive their quarry for miles, deeper and deeper into the forest, running them to exhaustion, hounding them into the dirt. Should the intruders try to escape the Warhounds by climbing a tree or sheltering in a ruined building it is not long before the Beastmen handlers catch up and take their sport, forcing the prey back into the open with arrows or fire. Then the Warhounds will close in and rip their victims apart in a spray of gore, while the rest of the tribe barks and howls in victory.[1a]
In the days before the warherd launches a full invasion, the hounds that live upon the tribe's periphery are caught with nets and lashed to stout trees. Some Beastmen rear these vicious hounds, training them for battle, though they can never be truly tamed. When the Beastmen muster for an attack, these hounds lope alongside them, drawn by the promise of fresh meat. For weeks before a fight, the hounds are penned up, starved and taunted so that when they are unleashed on the foe they are crazed, snarling killer desperate for the tang of raw flesh. Only the largest and meanest hounds survive this treatment. This is a natural extension of a society where only the strongest survive which are more wolf than dog, and they hunger for flesh and blood - Warhounds even eat the runts of their own litters without a moment's hesitation.[1a]
Originally the mutated descendants of bloodhounds and forest wolves, the Warhound's desperate hunger for human flesh owes little to nature and everything to Chaos. Many have the intelligence of the Gors they accompany to war and, for them; war is a time of feasting. The tainted lands that serve as their hunting grounds change these beasts in body as well as mind, and many are made all the more hideous by mutations such as horns, tusks and spines. Some are even stranger of aspect, having human limbs or faces, the tails of scorpions, stone-hard scales, tentacles in place of horns or bladed tongues that can shoot out and impale those nearby.[1a]
These creatures also present in Norsca along with wolves and hounds they prowl in the flickering shadows of the campfires made by the barbarian tribespeople of the frozen lands. The further north the tribe dwells, the more likely it is that the hounds that follow them will be hideous mutants, their bodies swollen by the energies of Chaos. Brutish and bloodthirsty, the Warhounds of Chaos are natural killers built of muscle and fang that prowl the wilderness in ravening packs. They will even charge a spearwall with total abandon, their only concern the moment when their slobbering jaws sink into juicy, yielding flesh.
Regardless of form, Warhounds are all vicious killers and their harsh baying is a sure warning of a slaughter to come. They bound across the battlefield at an alarming speed, so that a Handgunner will have scant moments to take his shot and no hope of reloading before powerful claws rake him to the ground and knife-like fangs close around his throat.[1a]