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In Warhammer 40,000, along with the most well-known of the Imperium's factions, there are several that are of no small consequence.

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    Adeptus Arbites
Ego legis sum.

To serve the Emperor. To protect His domains. To judge and stand guard over His subjects. To carry the Emperor's law to all worlds under His blessed protection. To pursue and punish those who trespassed against His word.

The Adeptus Arbites are the enforcement arm of the Adeptus Terra, and it is their duty to track crimes that span multiple planets or systems, ensure that a world follows Administratum decrees and meets the Imperial Tithe, and provide a visible reminder of the might of Imperial law. Most Imperial worlds will have at least one Arbites precinct house, with more important worlds having several such institutions located at strategic locations. When rabble-rousing citizens get in the way of the Imperial tithe being fulfilled, the Arbites are summoned to break them up and suppress riots. If it goes so far that a planet goes into full rebellion, the Arbites are the ones expected to be a loyalist holdout, sealing their precinct houses for siege and getting the message out to the wider Imperium. While local crime is the responsibility of planetary law enforcement, many of these local organisations are trained and equipped in imitation of the Adeptus Arbites, leading to some Imperial citizens mistaking them for true Arbitrators.

The Adeptus Arbites have never had an officially published codex book, only unit information and models to be used as allies for other Imperial forces in early editions of the game. Various unofficial army lists have been released over the years and some units equipped with carapace armour and shotguns, such as Astra Militarum Veterans and Inquisitorial Acolytes, have been used as count-as Adeptus Arbites models but for the most part they are almost never seen in the core Warhammer 40,000 game itself despite being relatively well represented in the background material. Adeptus Arbites forces and characters have however made limited appearances in spin-off games, such as Inquisitor and Necromunda, and the Shira Calpurnia novels have the titular Arbitrator Senioris as their main character.

  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: While the Arbites utilise all the standard patterns of transport vehicles used by Imperial forces, such as Chimeras and Rhinos, they are also one of only two organisations with access to the Repressor pattern Rhino transportnote  as they have found the extended transport bay, fire points on each flank and dozer blade ideal for dealing with riots and forming impromptu blockades.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Due to their rigorous training and indoctrination, Arbitrators of the Adeptus Arbites often have a near religious devotion to the Lex Imperialis, the legal code of the Imperium. Those Arbitrators who break from established Arbites doctrine are often punished especially harshly, with some sources indicating that the organisation considers one of their own taking the law into their own hands to be one of the worst crimes imaginable, bordering on heresy.
  • Captain Ersatz: The Adeptus Arbites owes a lot to the Judges due to their history (Games Workshop once produced a Judge Dredd RPG and incorporated several ideas from the setting). They even have Executioner rounds that seek out targets just like the Lawgiver can.
  • Characterization Marches On: In the original background material, the Adeptus Arbites were responsible for dealing with all crime within the Imperium but in later editions most criminal activity is left to local law enforcers (who are often trained and equipped in imitation of the Adeptus Arbites), with the Adeptus Arbites concerning themselves with broader unlawful activity that effects the wider Imperium, such as enforcement of the Imperial Tithe and criminal activity by Planetary Governors.
  • Expy: Go look up what "ego legis sum" translates to.
  • Faceless Goons: Invoked by the design of the Arbites carapace armour. They are supposed to represent the vigilance and judgement of the Adeptus Terra, and by extension, the God-Emperor himself. Thus while their mouths are uncovered so that their judgement can be heard clearly, their eyes are covered so that it is hard to tell where exactly their gaze will fall next. The overall design is meant to invoke maximum projection of implacable enforcers.
  • Feathered Fiend: Grapplehawks, a kind of servitor patterned after large birds of prey. They are employed by the Arbites as a kind of aerial drone, used to fly over streets, track targets, and identify known persons-of-interest in the midst of even dense crowds. They can also be used as a form of Attack Drone, where they can dive in and use their large claws and light grav-motors to restrain a target and keep them from running to evade the Arbitrators who are sure to be nearby.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: The Lex Imperialis, also know as the Book of Judgement, is technically not a single "book" at all; rather, it is a list of every Imperial decree and judgement recorded. The definitive copy of it occupies an entire temple-complex on Earth, spread across millions of volumes. Most precinct houses will contain their own libraries of these which are cut-down versions particular to their location, and individual Arbitrators themselves will have singular "field" copies for quick reference and summery. Arbitrators will pour over the Lex Imperialis to determine precedents, and occasionally particularly complex cases will require a judge to pour over it for years so that when they make their ultimate judgement the precedent they set going forward is carefully considered.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: The Arbites tend to wear carapace armor, which is about the best purely physical protection the Imperium can provide short of Powered Armor. Among the Imperial Guard, this armor is restricted to only heavy infantry or elite forces, but the Arbites mission scope requires them to be more survivable and put their own equipment at less risk anyhow.
  • Homing Projectile: Arbites combat shotguns are equipped with special Executioner rounds as standard. These rare, adamantium-tipped projectiles contain sensors and a primitive robotic brain that allow it to lock onto energy patterns and seek them out with unerring accuracy.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: Whether the Arbites get involved in a crime has less to do with what the crime is than who the infraction is against. Their jurisdiction covers crimes against the Imperial Adepta, and since the Imperial Adepta is considered the mortal face of the manifest will of the God-Emperor, that means any crime committed against them is not simply criminal but heretical. When it comes to such spiritual matters, there is no recognition of the concept of "petty crime". Thus a crime like jaywalking that might merit a warning at worst under most circumstances can result in a much more harsh chastisement if for example doing so forces a van bearing Administratum records to slow down in route to its destination.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: On an institutional level, the Arbites are charged to hand out justice without being accountable to other local agencies, though they are expected to do so only within the strictest interpretation of law and precedent. For the most part though, these roles are divided up between members of the organization, being the role of "Arbitrators" to bring in suspects and "Judges" to sentence them.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Happens very infrequently with local authorities, if only because the Arbites automatically override local jurisdictions, and few would dare challenge them on that. That said, it is often inverted in that Arbites are not charged to investigate lesser crimes, and it often takes pleading on the part of the local enforcement agencies to get the Arbites involved in the first place if they can be convinced that the crimes are sufficiently disruptive to the normal flow of business.
  • Lawman Baton: One of the traditional weapons of the Adeptus Arbites is a high-tech version of the lawman's baton known as a power or shock maul. Surrounded by a disruption field that enhances the power of a blow, the strength of an Arbites power maul can be altered so that it can either incapacitate a criminal with a single hit or allow its bearer to batter their way through a brick wall with ease.
  • Non-Lethal Warfare: While they are willing to use deadly force, their mission typically involves battering down agitating elements rather than killing them outright (rioting workers can't be made to resume work if they're dead.) Not that this makes their employment any more family-friendly, said non-lethal warfare typically involves lots of clubbing, shocking, broken bones, and chemical-burned mucus membranes.
  • Police Brutality: The Lex Imperialis overrides any local law, which means that if an Arbitrator has accused you of a crime, you have no rights. Incidentally, obstructing Arbitrator fulfilling their duty is a crime, so stay the heck out of their way. "Always err on the side of harshness" is sanctioned policy, after all...
  • Properly Paranoid: The Inquisition is rightly known as being the most paranoid institution in the Imperium, but the Adeptus Arbites are a close second. Their precinct houses resemble military command bunkers more than civil court houses, and their armories are stocked substantially above what is required for their nominal role of legal enforcement, even including things like anti-tank weapons. The justification for this paranoia comes when a planet falls to rebellion, and the Arbites, as representatives of Imperial authority, are rightly identified as obvious symbolic and practical targets. In such instances, the Arbites are expected to brace for a siege and hold out until relief forces can arrive from off world, and this is where all that paranoid preparation pays off...
  • Robot Dog: Cyber-Mastiffs, a kind of servitor made from canines. They are used to help Arbitrators hunt down hiding criminals, where their robotic components make them more reliable, more durable, and better trackers than their purely organic counterparts.
  • Shield Bash: Arbites often wield suppression shields for this very purpose. In addition to functioning as personal protection, the suppression shield contains an electrical discharge unit that can incapacitate anything struck by (or striking) it.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Shotguns are a common piece of equipment for Arbitrators. Mainly because most of what they go up against are expected to be more lightly armed and armored than them, but also because a shotgun provides a great deal of versatile utility with different kinds of specialized shells.
  • State Sec: To a lesser degree, but greater visibility, than the Inquisition. Each precinct house is equipped to fight a small war, with vehicles, weapons, and barracks housing the Arbitrators to use them. They even have a few of their own space ships, though these are (relatively) small patrol cruisers used for things like overtaking and boarding ships suspected of engaging in illegal activity. In cases of rebellion these are expected to be the last Imperial strongpoints, and are meant to be held for the years it will take reinforcements to arrive.

    Adeptus Astra Telepathica

The Adeptus Astra Telepathica are the branch of the Adeptus Terra dedicated to the recruitment, training and control of those possessing psychic abilities. To fulfill this role, the organisation is divided between the recruitment arm, known as the League of Black Ships, and the training institution known as the Scholastia Psykana. The Adeptus Astra Telepathica is one of the most important in the entire Imperium, for they not only train the battle psykers that fight for the Imperium’s armed forces, they also provide the Astropaths who make interstellar communication possible and those unfortunates whose fate is to be sacrificed to the Golden Throne to maintain the life of the God-Emperor of Mankind. In recognition of their importance, the Master of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica is one of the permanent members of the High Lords of Terra.

Although it has been a part of the Warhammer 40,000 background since the 1st Edition of the game, the Adeptus Astra Telepathica has never been an independent force on the tabletop and instead have been counted as Imperial Agents alongside the Inquisition and Officio Assassinorumnote , as well as being included as a sub-faction of the Astra Militarum.

  • Blind Seer: The Soul Binding ritual that all Astropaths must undergo is extremely traumatic and although those who survive have their psychic abilities enhanced, they inevitably have their optic nerves irreparably damaged by the process.
  • Empty Shell: The Soul Binding ritual is always damaging to the one who undergoes it, and some it damages more than others. In the most extreme cases, it leaves the Astropath emptied of most will or intellect, leaving them a borderline catatonic invalid. Such Astropaths remain useful, but they are relegated to only "choir" duty, being used by other Astropaths to lean on and borrow some of their power to amplify and buffer their own.
  • Human Resources: Imperial worlds' psykers are rounded up to be collected by the League of Black Ships and taken back to Terra for testing. Those with sufficient potential and control are trained as battlefield psykers, astropaths, or even future Inquisitors, while the rest are sacrificed to power the Astronomican or maintain the Golden Throne.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Induced in any Astropath at the end of their journey on one of the Black Ships. The evaluation testing they undergo en-route is often incredibly traumatic, and subjecting them to a limited form of mind-wipe to clear the memory of that experience is considered a practical way to keep them from developing a post-traumatic stress disorder that may compromise their necessary mental stability later on. Many psykers will only have scars and vague-but-distressing feelings when they try to recall what the trip to Terra was like.
  • Prison Ship: The Black Ships are designed to contain and transport unsanctioned psykers from their homeworlds to Terra for categorization and processing. These ships are terrible places to be for a psyker and typically incorporate psychic dampers and power limiters to prevent the inmates from escaping.
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance: One of the three models for the Wyrdvane is standing with his hand to his temple as if focusing his power.
  • Psychic Powers: As the organisation responsible for controlling the growing number of human psykers within the Imperium, many members of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica have psychic abilities, from the interstellar telepaths known as Astropaths to the more battle orientated powers of the Primaris Psykers.
  • Seers: Many Astropaths are skilled at predicting the future using the Emperor's Tarot and will use their predictions to assist their allies. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the Astral Divination ability that removes the cover bonus from an enemy unit for a nearby Astra Militarum unit to represent the Astropath telling his allies exactly when to fire for maximum effect.
  • Subspace Ansible: Astropaths use their telepathic abilities to send and receive messages across the gulf of interstellar space. The speed of such messages is not instantaneous, but it is quick enough. Since it is the only method of communicating across such distances, it is the only way an empire as sprawling as the Imperium can be maintained. As such these psykers are some of the most important individuals in the entire Imperium.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Or rather, by the God-Emperor, acting as an amplifier type. Telepaths judged to be of sufficient will to resist corruption and sufficient strength to survive the procedure undergo the ritual of Soul Binding, which touches their soul to that of the Emperor and allows them to lean on a portion of his psychic might. It tends to destroy their eye sight, but allow their telepathy to reach across light years instead of kilometers.
  • Wizarding School: The Scholastia Psykana branch of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica recruits and trains those psykers who have the strength and the ability to serve the Imperium.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Zig Zagged. The work of an Astropath is extremely taxing on the literal soul, and most Astropaths "burn out" doing it over time, making this an inverted case as it reduces their lifespan, almost prematurely aging them. However, for a smaller number of particularly strong-souled individuals, the repeated strain of their service hardens them, like work-hardening leather, leaving them more hale and hardy over time.

    Adeptus Custodes

Ours is the duty absolute. Ours is the vigil that must never end. Ours is the timeless honour, the willing sacrifice, the penitence enduring. We stand a watch that will never be relieved, and we stand it gladly out of adoration for he who gave us life, and whose life we must, in turn, preserve. We will never earn absolution, for we do not deserve it, but those who believe that would give us pause are fools.
Shield-Captain Tybalus Maxin

Known as the Legio Custodes prior to the Horus Heresy, the Adeptus Custodesnote  have been the personal bodyguard and emissaries of the Emperor since before the unification of Terra. Genetically altered through a secret method of bio-alchemy known only to the scientists of the Imperial household, the Custodes are transformed from the infant sons of Terran nobility into perfect warriors, second only to the Primarchs themselves in ability. Equipped with custom-made wargear that is at the pinnacle of Imperial technology, the Custodes are the most elite armed force within the Imperium, responsible for the defence of the Imperial Palace and the Sol System as a whole. After millennia of static defence, the opening of the Great Rift and the resulting assault on the Imperial Palace by a legion of Khornate daemons, the Custodes have realised they cannot ignore events in the wider Imperium and have begun striking out at anything that could threaten Holy Terra, no matter where in the galaxy such a threat arises.

The Custodes didn't receive official models until the end of October 2016 with the release of the board game Horus Heresy: Burning of Prospero. Free downloadable rules for using the models in games set during the forty-first millennium were also released at the same time and, in March 2017, they received their first official codex as part of the 7th Edition Talons of the Emperor box set. The 8th Edition rules for the Adeptus Custodes can be found in Codex: Adeptus Custodes released at the end of January 2018.

  • Arm Cannon: The Terminator armour worn by Allarus Custodians have balistus grenade launchers fitted to their forearms so that they can still wield their polearms with both hands. These advanced weapons are thought controlled and can be switched between explosive and concussive grenades in an instant.
  • An Axe to Grind: Some of them (mostly the Allarus Custodes) get to use the Castellan Axe, which is effectively a Guardian Spear that is better-suited to slashing.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Shield-Captains of the Adeptus Custodes are considered to be some of the greatest warriors of the Imperium, able to stand alone against entire squads of elite enemy troops. Even more powerful than the Shield-Captains are the Captain-Generals who lead the Ten Thousand. Each of these mighty individuals has shown truly exceptional combat prowess and are said to be close to the Primarchs in skill and ability. In-game this is represented by both Shield-Captains, and the Captain-General, having exceptional stat lines in all the editions they have appeared in.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Invoked in-universe. While the Custodes are undisputed badasses even by 40k standards, they are exceedingly expensive to produce. Each Custodian requires roughly the same cost as a whole Astartes Chapter and while a single Custodian is to an Astartes as an Astartes is to a Guardsman, it's simply easier to drown the enemy in corpses (this being 40k and all). Thus they are allowed to remain the Emperor's praetorian guard simply because it's not feasible to use them for any other purpose.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier:
    • During the time of the Great Crusade and well into the Horus Heresy, the Custodes' standard transport vehicle is the Coronus Grav-Carrier, a strikingly-designed skimmer which possesses a degree of speed and agility far superior to what its heavy armour would indicate, and is more than capable of defending itself wth its Lastrum bolt cannon and Arachnus blaze cannon.
    • Come the 42nd Millenium, the Custodes get transported around instead in Gold-plated Relic Land Raiders.
  • BFG: The rare Sagittarum Guard are known for wielding the Adrastus Bolt Caliver, which allows it to be used somewhat like a Heavy Bolter, with the addition of an Adrasite Laser for short-range work.
  • BFS: Their Sentinel Blades are as long as their wielder is tall. And since they're One Head Taller than an 8-foot tall Space Marine Terminator... yeah.
  • Bling of War: The standard Custodes' Power Armour (seen on the picture at the right) is more blinged out than most Space Marine Chapter Masters. Their Storm Shields, vehicles and Dreadnoughts are just as incredibly ornate.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Makes their official return to the battlefield in the 41st Millennium by coming to Guilliman's aid as he fights Magnus and the Thousand Sons.
  • Bigger Is Better: It's probably no coincidence that Custodes' models are taller than Terminator Space Marines, which is the largest a Space Marine will look in personal equipment, and they're pretty much unmatched in combat compared to anyone in the Imperium or anyone in very many other species around the galaxy...
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: Custodes protect the mightiest human who has ever existed. When the Emperor was alive and healthy, this trope was in full play but since the Emperor is currently a shriveled husk depending on constantly sitting on the Golden Throne for life support, it is at least downplayed.
  • Color Motif: The Custodes were notable for their golden, ornately carved armour. After the Horus Heresy, the Custodes donned black vestments over the armor as a sign of mourning, but as of Rising Storm however, they've discarded the mourning colors.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Custodes are versed in politicking, spycraft and even assassination; skills no self-respecting Astartes would learn.
  • A Commander Is You: Elitist. The pinnacle of "quality over quantity", a single basic Custodes warrior is worth more in points than an entire squad of Guardsmen with a few toys! So do not expect to field more than a small handful of units. However they have great all-round stats, huge damage in every attack, amazingly well-protected, and with an Implacable Man-level refusal to die that would make the Necrons blush. Your shiny super-soldiers will be nigh-unstoppable, but each loss is going to hurt badly.
  • Cool Helmet: The Eagle's Eye is a beautifully crafted Custodian helm that has been enhanced with highly sophisticated sensors that warn the wearer of enemy attacks, allowing him to take action to avoid harm. In-game, it gives the wearer an improved invulnerable save.
  • Cultured Warrior: As well as providing protection to the Emperor, the Custodes were originally intended to offer counsel and conversation to the Master of Mankind and as such were expected to be well versed in numerous scientific, cultural and political fields of knowledge. Since the Emperor's internment in the Golden Throne, the Custodes have continued this tradition, offering their considerable knowledge to the leaders of the Imperium instead.
  • Deflector Shield: Many of the armoured vehicles fielded by the Custodes are equipped with flare shields. While these rare defensive shields aren't as powerful as the void shields of a Titan, they can be powered by a far smaller reactor, allowing them to be fitted to far smaller vehicles. In-game terms, the 8th Edition rules represent this with an invulnerable save that has a 1 in 3 chance of stopping almost any attack.
  • Depending on the Writer: One of the most inconsistently-written forces around. The writers can't seem to agree on how strong they are, how tall they were, or how their weapons worked compared to, say, your regular Astartes equipment.
  • Disintegrator Ray: Adrathic weapons, created using technology exclusive to the Custodes, are ancient weapons capable of severing the molecular bonds so completely that that nothing of their target survives except a brief afterimage. Restricted to use only against the most dangerous of foes, there have been no reliable reports of such weapons being fielded since the Horus Heresy.
  • Earn Your Title: Names are the only reward Custodes have for serving the Imperium. A Custodes with an Overly Long Name is not to be trifled with.
  • Elite Army: In the vast, dehumanizing galaxy of 40K, Adeptus Custodes have the rare privilege of being considered as uniquely valuable individuals, and there's certainly a reason for this: According to the game rules, each one is at least as tough as an Ork Warboss, Orks of which are essentially a species of Might Makes Right.
  • Feeling Their Age: Despite being all but immortal, the rigours of their duties, and age, often leads to physical and mental degradation, however slight, that will cause them to fall behind the combat abilities of their brethren. Such Custodes abandon their weapons and armor to become one of the Eyes of the Emperor, acting as a spy and informant for the rest of the Custodes.
  • Gate Guardian: Only the Custodes can allow anyone in the Emperor's presence, and they're the only ones who can allow another into His presence.
  • Genius Bruiser: Massive and deadly as they are, it's easy to forget that the Custodians are also stunningly intelligent and trained in things like economics, politics, and espionage, and have used these skills to avert countless plots among Imperial aristocracy on Terra that might plunge the Imperium into chaos (or Chaos).
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: The Custodes are the best military force in all of the Imperium and it shows. They wear an armor made of auramite, a very rare metal which is naturally colored gold. By extension all their equipment and vehicles are gold-colored. However, the auramite can be colored, and one brotherhood within the Custodes adorns black auramite armor (albeit with golden decorations).
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: They return to active duty at the behest of Roboute Guilliman, being seen for the first time in thousands of years on the front lines.
  • Hover Bike: Due to having access to the best technology available to the Imperium, the Adeptus Custodes are the only Imperial force to make use of jetbikes in large numbers. The two most common types of jetbikes fielded by the Custodes are the ornate Dawneagle jetbikes ridden by the Vertus Praetors, and the ancient and rare Gyrfalcon jetbikes ridden by the Agamatus Custodians. Both types of jetbike give their Custodian riders great speed and manoeuvrability over any type of terrain.
  • Hover Tank: Take a Sicaran Battle Tank, and stick it on a Land Speeder and you have the Custodes' Caladius Grav-Tank. Their "standard" Awesome Personnel Carrier is the Coronus Grav-Carrier.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Telemon Heavy Dreadnought, used exclusively by the Adeptus Custodes, stands at least a head taller than even the largest pattern of Dreadnought used by the Astartes, and packs weapons to match its size, including enormous Power Fists with equally enormous plasma guns, a gatling lascannon, and an upgraded version of the Cyclone Missile Launcher.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Many Space Marines envy the Custodes for being so close to the Emperor.
    • In turn, there are more than a few among the Custodes who are worried that it is the Grey Knights instead that are the Emperor's final masterpiece.
  • It Was a Gift: Each Custodian is personally given their weapon by the Emperor... at least, they were before the Horus Heresy. They've probably dropped that rule by "modern" 40k.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Solar Watch Shield Host specialise in striking hard and fast against any threat to the Emperor, racing into battle within various transport vehicles. The rules for the Shield Host, first published in the late 8th Edition sourcebook Psychic Awakening: War of the Spider, give them the Sally Forth Warlord Trait, which increases their Move characteristic and mobile firepower, as well as a relic guardian spear with rules that encourages a mobile fighting style.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: The Praesidius is a relic storm shield of the Aquilan Shield Hostnote  that incorporates one-of-a-kind teleportation technology to displace individual shots, blades and energy blasts away from the bearer seconds before it hits, reducing the chance that any attack will wound the bearer.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon:
    • Most Custodes, particularly the Custodian Guard, wield Guardian Spears, polearms that combine a power blade with an integrated bolter note 
    • The Sentinel Guard wield Sentinel Warblades instead of Guardian Spears. These massive swords, as long as a Custodian is tallnote , incorporate a double-barrelled Bolt Caster into the crossguard that fires a hail of short range bolt rounds.
    • The Adrastus Bolt Caliver, part Heavy Bolter, part laser gun, and is exclusively wielded by the Sagittarum Guard.
    • The Castellan Axe works like a Guardian Spear that's specialized for slashing, and is often seen in the hands of the Allarus Custodians. Trajann Valoris's Watcher's Axe also fits in this category, only bigger and fancier.
    • The Emperor once declared that all of the energy weapons known as Adrathic Destructors, which are unique to Terra, shall be given to him under pain of death for the entire family of those who would conceal them from him. Only members of the Imperial Household may carry them. Custodes are part of the Imperial Household. Ergo, only Custodes may use Adrathic Weapons, the most powerful in the galaxy pound-for-pound. They are often integrated into two-handed blade weapons, or the arms of Dreadnoughts.
  • My Greatest Failure: The Custodes still feel intense guilt over their perceived failure to protect the Emperor over 10,000 years ago. Their reluctance to leave the palace for much of that time period stems from this guilt.
  • One-Handed Zweihänder: Those Sentinel Warblades that they wield, which are described as "daunting greatswords"? Yeah, Custodes don't even bother using two hands to hold them.
  • Power Armor: Much like the Astartes, the Custodes have this...and of course, they have their own Terminators. Said Terminators come in two flavors:
    • Aquilon armor is like standard Terminator armor, only significantly better.
    • Allarus armor mounts a teleporter, and is worn by the Allarus Custodes
  • Praetorian Guard: The Custodes defend the Emperor even long after his internment in the Golden Throne. Even before that, they were bodyguarding the Emperor when in battle.
  • Promoted to Playable: The Custodes received rules for the first time in 2016, 29 years after being introduced in Rogue Trader.
  • Properly Paranoid: The Custodes view anyone outside of their own organization with suspicion. After all, if even the Emperor's most trusted son could turn traitor then surely anyone could.
  • Retired Badass: The Eyes of the Emperor are a network of retired Custodians who wander the galaxy, seeking out potential threats to Terra or the wider Imperium. Should such threats prove sufficiently dangerous, the Eyes will use secret means to contact the Captain-General and request a strike force of Adeptus Custodes eliminate the threat before it can come to fruition.
  • Shirtless Scene: In the first edition, the Custodes abandoned armor after the Heresy. They're once again wearing their golden armor as of The Beast Arises, and their 7th Edition models are fully armoured.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The Custodes singlehandedly ended the Age of Apostasy first by talking the Brides of the Emperor into turning against Goge Vandire, then convincing (or scaring) Sebastian Thor into becoming the new Ecclesiarch.
  • Soldier vs. Warrior: The Warrior to the Soldiers of the Space Marines and Imperial Guard. Custodians have genetic kinship with each other in their formations, but they are much more solitary than the Astartes or Guard in terms of their actions as a military function. Also, their individuality is reinforced by the rigor of their creation process and the lack of mass production it involves, in contrast to the creation of Astartes or induction into the Guard. Notably, however, is that the Adeptus Custodes are still able to fight and operate in perfect coordination, beyond even the most advanced and skilled of Astartes, but this is simply because they are that much better in terms of physical and mental ability and their wargear. What an Astartes would take decades or centuries to learn through training and experience comes entirely naturally to a Custodes.
  • Stealth Expert: Despite their size and standard shiny equipment, Custodes are also accomplished infiltrators. Several Custodes are constantly trying to infiltrate the Sol System, Terra, the Imperial Palace and eventually the Throne room in what are called "Blood Games" in order to test their defence systems and seek out any weak point so they can be corrected at once.
  • Straight for the Commander: One of the preferred tactics employed by Allarus Custodes is to tear the throat from the enemy army by striking directly at its commander. To represent this on the tabletop, Allarus Custodes are able to teleport directly onto the battlefield, and have a number of special rules and Stratagems that allow them to specifically target enemy Character models.
  • Super Prototype: Of the Space Marines, only the Primarchs are more powerful than the Custodes.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The purpose of the Dread Host is the utter eradication of any threat to the Segmentum Solar and to do so in such a way as to deter others from even thinking of becoming a threat. Once unleashed, the Dread Host slaughter their foes to the last man, cast down their cities and hunt down their allies until nothing remains of their target except the story of their extinction.
  • Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Beneath the Imperial Palace lies a subterranean prison known as the Dark Cells, which house horrific and unspeakable machines, abominations, and ancient artifacts that must be safeguarded and hidden from the rest of mankind. The Shadowkeepers are a specialized branch of the Custodes who serve as the wardens for this nightmarish prison.
  • Undying Loyalty: To the Emperor, whose corpse they still guard. In fact, they refuse to recognize any authority other than the Emperor, unless He has explicitly empowered another, which is the only way their ranking system works. Notably, they are the only division of the Imperium not answerable in any way to the Inquisition, due to the fact their authority comes directly from the Emperor himself. It wasn't until Roboute Gulliman entered the Emperor's throne room and emerged again that the Custodes decided that they were done with simply guarding the Emperor and set out to do his will upon the galaxy.
  • Walking Tank: Like the Astartes, the Custodes have access to Dreadnoughts, most of which are the much-vaunted Contemptor-pattern with fittingly up-scaled weaponry.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: Have both (super-)Astartes enhancements and Assassin training; Space Marines and Assassins are elsewhere said to occupy opposite ends of a spectrum ranging from "honor and glory" to "stealth and secrecy".

Captain-General Trajann Valoris, First of the Ten Thousand

The hotter the forge, the finer the blade, or so they say. The forge of war in which we now find ourselves blazes hotter than anything the Imperium has seen in ten millennia. We of the Adeptus Custodes were built to endure these fires. They will not be our end. Instead, we will be honed to the finest cutting edge, that we may be the bane of even the foulest heretics.

The 17th Custodian to hold the position of Captain-General since the Great Crusade, Trajann Valoris is a peerless warrior, a great strategist and a highly aggressive commander. Valoris is considered by his peers to be the greatest warrior to lead the Custodes since the great Constantine Valdor due to his great skill in battle and the fact that he won two Blood Games within a decade of becoming one of the Ten Thousand, a record that has yet to be surpassed.

Even before the opening of the Great Rift, Valoris had been increasing the activities of the Adeptus Custodes against threats to the Emperor, and the Sol System as a whole. Now, with the enemies of Mankind walking the galaxy in numbers never before seen, the Captain-General has authorised more extra-solar strikes than at any time since the Great Crusade.

  • Ancestral Weapon: Unlike most other Custodians, who wield custom made weaponry, the Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes inherits the wargear of the position. Forged in the wake of the Horus Heresy, this equipment includes the deadly Watcher’s Axe and the highly ornate Castellan Plate.
  • Badass Cape: The Castellan Plate worn by Valoris incorporates a magnificent, billowing cloak that, despite looking like it is made of regular cloth, is woven from adamantine thread so that it is all but impervious to attack.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: Valoris wields the Watcher’s Axe, a large polearm that combines an Aquila-decorated axeblade wreathed in golden lightning with the Eagle’s Scream, a masterfully forged bolt weapon with a punishing rate of fire that unleashes armour-piercing Penetrator bolts. In the 8th Edition rules, this revered weapon has the most powerful stats for any of the Custodes mix-and-match weapons.
  • The Spymaster: Even before being appointed as Captain-General, Valoris cultivated an extensive network of spies and informants throughout the Segmentum Solar and this network has only grown since he took leadership of the Ten Thousand. Valoris uses this network of agents to temper his aggressive nature, ensuring that his forces strike at the most vital of targets.
  • Time Master: Valoris carries the Moment Shackle, a strange relic of the Dark Age of Technology that is capable of manipulating the timestream in the immediate area. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving Valoris the ability to manipulate temporal energy once per battle, allowing him to heal his wounds (representing turning back his own personal time), fight twice in the same phase (representing slowed time) or regenerating Command Points (representing glimpses of the future).

    Imperial Fleet

If the Adeptus Astartes are the Emperor's wrath, and the Imperial Guard His hammer, then His Holy Navy is His mighty shield.
Cardinal Kregory Hestor

The Imperial Fleet controls all the shipping and transport between world and from a planet's surface to orbit. As with most Imperial organisations, the Imperial Fleet is split into a number of different branches with two of the most important being the Imperial Navy and the Aeronautica Imperialis.

For all the size of the Emperor's vast armies and the prowess of his Angels of Death, the Imperial Navy is what gives the Imperium of Man the force-projection it needs to be an interstellar superpower. Made up of multiple fleets of Warp-capable grand ships, each with lengths measured in kilometers and with crews that reach into the thousands on even the smallest of them, few powers can match the Imperial Navy when it musters in force. But because even the smallest ship can only be produced at relatively high tech worlds with reliable access to material and they can take anywhere from decades to centuries to construct, the vast might of the Imperial Navy is stretched thin across the galaxy, patrolling Warp routes and escorting the interstellar transportation that countless worlds rely on simply for survival. When the Imperium goes crusading, the vessels of the Imperial Navy transport and escort the vast numbers of ground forces the Imperial war machine can bring to bear, supporting them with literal walls of guns so numerous and massive that not even a Titan war machine could mount them.

Although their focus is primarily on the sea of stars, the Imperial Fleet are also responsible for deploying the Imperium's more conventional aircraft. The Aeronautica Imperialis is the branch of the Imperial Fleet responsible for operating these atmospheric craft, providing everything from the airborne transport of elite troops to pinpoint airstrikes and carpet bombing of enemy positions in support of the forces of the Astra Militarum.

The Imperial Navy itself is not often represented in the core Warhammer 40,000 game, as that focuses on ground engagements and the Imperial Navy is by its own mandate limited in its capacity to project force there. However, it is well represented in the fiction, as well as in Specialist Games like Battlefleet Gothic. The Imperial Fleet's Aeronautica Imperialis meanwhile was originally spun-off into its own small sub-faction in 7th Edition's Codex: Imperial Agents and had their 8th Edition rules included in the Index: Imperium 2 book released in June 2017. The majority of Aeronautica Imperialis forces in Warhammer 40,000 however are produced by the Games Workshop's Forge World department and their rules are included in the Imperial Armour - Index: Forces of the Astra Militarum book.

  • Bad Boss: Downplayed, in that, like Machiavelli's Prince, an Imperial Navy captain will generally prefer to be both feared and respected, but ultimately the Navy needs its captains to be feared more than they need them respected. So much so that the lives of a few ratings are considered expendable if it means enforcing appropriate discipline on the rest.
  • Boarding Party: The Imperial Navy can and does engage in boarding actions, with teams of Naval armsmen piling into assault boats to raid enemy ships as they pass by, or even attaching grapnels on kilometer-long chains and winching the ships into a forced dock with each other. Some of the boarding parties might even teleport to an enemy ship if they are (un)lucky enough to be on a ship with a functional teleportarium.
  • Boarding Pod: An alternative to the assault shuttles and teleporting is the boarding torpedo, launched from ships equipped with torpedo tubes. In many ways this is the most dangerous method of conducting a boarding action, as the torpedo has limited ability to maneuver to evade interception. If it misses the target it is likely to go off into deep space with every soul still trapped aboard, and even when it hits its target there is no easy line to retreat to the mothership if things go poorly for the boarders. However for all that, it is one of the quickest ways to get boarders to their target.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Imperial Navy Reserve Fleets consist of many old and obsolete classes of ship that are no longer used in regular Navy Fleets, including many that are more commonly seen fighting with Chaos Fleets such as the Repulsive-class Grand Cruiser and the Carnage-class Cruiser. The Imperial Navy is reluctant to use these fleets due to their ships' lack of regular maintenance and their hastily assembled crews having a tendency to be unreliable at best, if not outright mutinous.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Imperial Navy spaceships are hypertech vessels decorated with gargoyles and other morbid sculptures on the outside (which are completely functional, they usually hide weapons or other projectors, as well as that they keep out the Warp, if you believe in their capability to do so...), and crewed mostly by throngs of press-ganged deck-hands that must do most everything by muscle power.
  • Cool Spaceship: Every ship in the Imperial Navy is a precious artifact, their outer hulls fitted with crenelations, gargoyles, and other baroque decorations that make them resemble starfaring battle-cathedrals.
  • Cyborg Helmsman: Many officers of the Imperial Navy are so heavily augmented they're often described as being more part of their ships than autonomous beings.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: Due to the necessity of accelerating the shells along the length of the ship, the Nova Cannons used by some Imperial capital ships are always mounted on their armoured prow.
  • Flaunting Your Fleets: Actually part of the Imperial Navy's mandate. Standard operating procedure for ships on patrol duty is to stop by infrequently visited worlds in their path to "fly the flag" and remind those worlds the grandeur of the support they are entitled to under the Pax Imperialis... and of what they would be up against should their faith stray.
  • Jumped at the Call: Despite the common practice of Press Ganging to fill required crew numbers, the majority of ratings on Imperial Navy ships are willing volunteers. Partly this is because life aboard a warship is hardly any more harsh than some of the places they might be recruited from anyway, and partly because the Imperial Navy actually pays its ratings substantially well. Of course, the reason the Imperial Navy can afford to be so generous is because they know barely half the ratings will survive long enough to collect their payout...
  • Lost Technology: Archeotech, technology from an earlier era that the Imperium has forgotten the secrets of manufacturing, is a matter particularly important to the Imperial Navy. Many of their oldest ships contain irreplaceable advanced systems, and each is a force-multiplier compared to more modern equivalents if such an equivalent even exists anymore. The Navy will often go out of its way to retrieve the wrecks of older ships just to plunder such components and use them in ships currently in service, even risking investigating and breaking pieces off of space hulks to get at them.
  • Machine Worship: Every ship has a staff of Tech-Priests to maintain the more critical advanced systems, such as the Warp engine and the plasma drives, servicing those components with all appropriate ritual. However in a more general sense, as their brand of techno-animism is Imperium-wide, and that ships being as vast and complex machines as they are, virtually all look upon the ship itself as being a holy thing. Any given ship will have an operational lifetime far longer than any of its crew, and the battle honors it accumulate and its mechanical quirks are seen to be indicative of the strength of its machine-spirit. Powerful old ships are regarded with the same veneration that Imperial citizens regard living saints.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Officers of the Imperial Navy are often from highborn stock on their respective homeworlds, sometimes being the product of entire dynasties of servicemen.
  • Orbital Bombardment: One of the biggest assets a Navy can bring in support of a ground engagement. However, such "orbital artillery" is both extremely overpowered for most planetary targets and extremely inaccurate. This typically relegates the use of such power to carefully considered strategic situations to avoid excessively damaging targets the Imperium would benefit from taking relatively intact. In-game, this inaccuracy is reflected in the Orbital Bombardment ability of Space Marine Chapter Masters, which always scatters the full distance rolled instead of subtracting the Chapter Master's Ballistic Skill.
  • Press-Ganged: A common method for fulfilling the Imperial Navy's enlisted personnel needs. Since there is rarely any return journey for someone aboard ship, the conditions are extremely harsh, and the common citizens of the Imperium are often taught to fear and shun warp travel, impressment is something the Imperial Navy frequently relies on. When arriving at a heavily populated place like a hive world and the need for new recruits is high, they will often lean on the local enforcers to institute a crackdown, with the sentences being waived for Naval service.
  • Ramming Always Works: Well, not always, but with a wedge-shaped prow that is a solid plate of armor thirty meters thick, Imperial Navy ships have a good chance of pulling it off if they can get close enough. Even when not used for ramming, the heavily armored prow is designed to have a psychological effect on those commanding such ships, as it encourages them to keep the ship pointed toward the enemy up until the moment they are ready to unleash a full broadside.
  • Schizo Tech: In full force. When the Imperial Navy was started (as part of the Imperial Army during the Great Crusade) it had powerful and advanced ships. But as entropy and battle have taken their toll, and the knowledge of how to construct much of that technology has been forgotten, even those older ships would sometimes end up replacing a critically damaged advanced system with a much lower tech version, and newer ships rarely get anything so advanced to begin with. This leads to situations where a ship might be capable of traversing the Warp, but have cannons that fire multi-ton shells which are loaded by hand by teams of laborers pulling on chains. The hand-loaded guns are an interesting situation, as the Imperium still possesses the technology to reload starship weapons without relying on manual labor—the ships of the Mechanicus are all equipped with autoloaders instead. Of course, in the Imperium having the technology to upgrade something and the will do it are very different issues. It can be safely assumed that Mechanicus ships have enough Tech-Priests and highly-trained menials aboard to carry out the regular maintenance rituals macro-cannon autoloaders require, while Imperial Navy ships depend on sometimes unwilling crews who have minimal technical training and require systems that can be operated and maintained with relatively unskilled labor.
  • Space Fighter: Some Imperial Navy ships mount launch bays for these. Exact loadouts can very depending on the ship and the local manufacture, but the best known are the Fury interceptors, the Starhawk bombers, and the Shark assault boats.
  • Space Is an Ocean: The Imperial Navy has a virtual monopoly on warships capable of sailing the "sea of souls" which ensures that any system that goes rogue does so in isolation.
  • Space Navy: The Imperial Navy proudly embraces every trope associated with sea-going navies in recent history and puts them in space aboard miles-long starships covered in baroque bling. It has broadsides, boarding parties, ships ramming each other, naval ranks and and traditions, crews of press-ganged sailors, and everything else you would expect from how Space Is an Ocean.
  • Space People: Due to the mixed-sex nature of most crews and the centuries-spanning service histories of most starships, crews being made up in good part of multiple generations of "voidborn" is not uncommon. Many starship crewmen have never set foot on a planet in their lives, and most have no wish to. It is also not uncommon for there to be entire tribes descended from lost crew members inhabiting forgotten and abandoned decks.
  • Space Plane: Although primarily intended for atmospheric operations the Thunderbolt and Lightning fighters, as well as the Marauder bombers, operated by the Imperial Navy are also capable of operating in a vacuum. This is mostly due to the necessity of being deployed from carriers in orbit, when ground bases are unavailable, but there are many instances where such craft have been used in space combat when dedicated space fighters and bombers were unavailable.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: Fits the standard, but with the scale turned Up to Eleven. Even "small" escort craft such as destroyers and frigates would match battleships in many other settings taken just on their size alone, while battleships in the Imperial Navy are kilometers long with crews over a hundred thousand strong.
  • Starship Luxurious: Averted for the vast majority of any ship, where accommodations can be described as "spartan" at best and Industrial Ghetto at worst. However, this is played very straight by a ship's command decks, where the passages are broad and tall, roofed with in decorative archways, enormous windows give vistas of the stars, and are often paneled with wooden or stone facades such that walking through them is like walking through a cathedral planetside. This is taken Up to Eleven by the Navigators' quarters, which are said to embarrass a planetary governor in their opulence, and are often built into tall spires jutting from the ship so that the Navigators aboard can better see what they are doing while performing their absolutely critical task.
  • A Taste of the Lash: A common method of enforcing discipline among the enlisted personnel.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Mainly because the automated systems which would otherwise fulfill those functions have long since broken down or those who known how to build and maintain them forgotten. As a result, Imperial Navy ships have huge crews of menial laborers to do everything from load the cannons to "stoke" individual valves coming from the ship's plasma reactors. Actually controlling a machine as vast as an Imperial Navy ship would either require a sophisticated artificial intelligence (which is forbidden) or vast numbers of people working under a single set of orders (which is not.) And of course, the bigger crew it has, the more it can continue to fight on despite taking horrific damage.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: ... In Space! The technology and practices of the Imperial Navy heavily mirror the age of sail warfare, with ships lining up to fire broadsides, and crews scrambling to ready weapons or manually handle individual maneuvering stations to bring the ship to bare, all coordinated by officers screaming orders over the chaos.

    Imperial Knights
A Knight Paladin of House Terryn with a rapid-fire battle cannon, reaper chainsword, and heavy stubbers.

We march out now, an army of adamantine giants stepping from the shadows, a hunting pack of apex predators. What possible answer can our enemies have in the face of such fearsome strength?
Sir Percivus of House Mortan

Towering humanoid warmachines sporting numerous devastating weapons, Imperial Knightsnote  are some of the most powerful military assets available to the Imperium. Hailing from planets known as Knight Worlds, the Knights were originally created to protect colonists from the dangerous flora, fauna and xenos creatures that inhabited these frontier planets. Isolated from the rest of humanity for millennia, the Knight Worlds developed stable and highly feudal societies led by the Knights' Noble pilots that were quickly integrated into the fledgling Imperium during the Great Crusade with binding oaths of loyalty, and they now fight valiantly against the enemies of Man wherever they can be found. Such is the martial power of the Knights, there is much competition between the Imperial Administration and the Adeptus Mechanicus over their allegiance, with those who follow the Tech-Priests of Mars being known as Questor Mechanicus Knights, while those aligned to the Imperium as a whole are known as Questor Imperialis Knights. Numerous classes of Knight exist, with the most common being the Questoris-class Knight such as the Knight Errant and Knight Paladin patterns. Other classes include the light and manoeuvrable Armiger-class, the ancient and rare Cerastus-class, the heavy Dominus-class and the massive Acastus-class.

Originally a part of the Adeptus Mechanicus forces in the Epic scale game system, Imperial Knights were largely confined to background material for a number of years before they were reintroduced into the core Warhammer 40,000 game in 2014. The 8th Edition of the game saw the two factions of Imperial Knight given their High Gothic names of Questor Imperialis and Questor Mechanicus. The 8th Edition rules for fielding Freeblades and standalone Questor Imperialis and Questor Mechanicus armies can be found in Codex: Imperial Knights, released in June 2018, while the rules for using Questor Mechanicus Knights as part of a wider Adeptus Mechanicus force can be found in Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus. The rules for using the older and rarer types of Knight, produced by Games Workshop's Forge World subsidiary department, can be found in Imperial Armour Index: Forces of the Astra Militarum.

  • Anti-Air:
    • Questoris-class Knights can be equipped with a pair of Icarus autocannons, high rate-of-fire weapons fitted with advanced targeters that fill the air with ammunition to bring down enemy fliers. In-game, all editions of their rules give Icarus autocannons bonuses when firing at flying units.
    • Armiger Helverins often act as air defence for Lances of Knights, using their Armiger autocannons to bring down hostile aircraft and flying creatures. In the 8th Edition of the game this is represented by the 'Skyreaper Protocols' Stratagem that gives the Helverin a bonus when targeting flying enemies.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The High Monarchs and Barons who lead contingents of Knights into battle are often supremely skilled combatants with battle honours that can take hours, if not days, to recite in full. Some editions of the game have represented this by giving the Warlord of an Imperial Knights force better characteristics than his followers.
  • BFS: Tempest Warblades, large power blades carried by the Cerastus Knight-Castigator that can cleave another Knight in two and reduce whole enemy units to ash.
  • Blade on a Stick: Some Knight variants carry power lances, large spears that combine hydraulic power with a powerful disruption field to cause a massive amount of damage when the Knight charges. The Cerastus Shock Lances carried by the Cerastus Knight-Lancer are also able to release a blast of electromagnetic plasma.
  • Blood Knight: The Styrix pattern of Questoris Knight are avoided by many Knightly Houses due to their near-uncontrollable machine spirits that seem to revel in the destruction that they unleash. The Nobles of these Houses believe that these machine spirits have been tainted by the slaughters of the Age of Strife and the Great Crusade. Other Houses, however, attempt to harness the power of these unhinged machine spirits, forming them into lances and unleashing them against the enemy.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • By the standards of Imperial super-heavy walkers, Knight suits are actually easy to mass produce and require only a single operator, as opposed to the centuries it takes for a Forge World to build even the smallest class of Titan, not to mention the training the Princeps and his crew requires. As a result of this, Imperial Knights see far wider use than the god-machines of the Titan Legions, despite each individual Knight packing far less firepower.
    • Compared to some of the more esoteric weapons used by full-sized Titans (such as vortex missiles that create holes in reality) the majority of Knight suits are armed with relatively humble battle cannons and melta weaponry. However, while these weapons lack special rules or flair, they still get the job done.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: The process of interfacing with a Throne Mechanicum not only imprints the Noble's personality on the Throne, it also changes the personality of the Noble: instilling strong feelings of honor and duty, a respect for order and hierarchy, and a veneration for one's ancestors. The exact reason for this is unknown, but some believe that it is either an unintended error or a form of mental Restraining Bolt to help stop Nobles from going rogue. Only the Thrones Mechanicum used by House Taranis of Mars are free of this mental conditioning algorithm, something the Nobles of the House believe makes the greatest Knights in the eyes of the Omnissiah.
  • Chainsaw Good: Adapted from the mighty chainsaws the earliest Knight suits used to fell trees on newly colonised worlds, the reaper chainsword is one of the most common close combat weapons used by Questoris-class Knights. These large weapons are fitted with razor sharp adamantine teeth that can cleave through all but the thickest of armour and inflict a massive amount of damage to enemy bunkers and armoured vehicles.
  • Close-Range Combatant:
    • The Knights Lancer is a rare pattern of Knight that specialises in hard-hitting, lightning assaults. Although some Lancersnote  are equipped with rapid-fire battle cannons, the Cerastus-class Knight Lancer typically replaces this with an ion gauntlet shield, greatly reducing its ranged capabilities while greatly increasing its survivability in close combat.
    • Unlike most other patterns of Questoris Knight that are fitted with a single close combat weapon, the Knight Gallant is equipped with both a reaper chainsword and a thunderstrike gauntlet. While this loadout leaves the Gallant significantly under-gunned compared to other super-heavy walkers, the reckless and aggressive nature of the Knight, and those Nobles who pilot them, means they are most at home charging headlong into the enemy and would do so whatever their armament.
  • A Commander Is You: The ultimate Elitist army. It's an entire "army" of Humongous Mecha with each one costing in the ball-park of 400 points, easy, and each one is incredibly hard to bring down. They also have excellent ranged firepower, and most balanced armies will be crushed as they lack the sheer anti-armour firepower needed to deal with them. However you will probably never have more than 3-4 models in any one game. The Knights are usually brought in as allies for other Imperial armies rather than run as a separate faction.
  • Communications Officer: The Master of Vox is one of the honoured ranks that a Questor Mechanicus Baron can achieve. It is the duty of the Master of Vox to network the communications of the various Lance formations of a Questor Mechanicus House during a battle, as well as handle communication with allied forces. To achieve this role, the Baron's Knight will be equipped with enhanced communications equipment. The rank has no in-game effect however.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion:
    • As with other large vehicles in the 8th Edition rules, Knights have the Explodes Ability that causes it to deal mortal wounds on every unit nearby when it is reduced to 0 wounds. The duel plasma reactors of the Dominus-class Knights mean they have a chance of exploding with a blast close in size to that of an exploding Titan.
    • In previous editions of the game, Knights were Super-Heavy vehicles, and thus if they suffered an Explodes! result from a penetrating hit, the diameter of its blast was 15 inches note  and could scatter (representing the Knight staggering and falling), so it had the potential to take out a large chunk of an army if it went boom.
  • Deflector Shield: All classes of Knight are protected by ancient energy fields known as ion shields. Unlike most Imperial defence shields, ion shields do not completely enclose the Knight and have to be manually positioned by the pilot to absorb incoming attacks. In the early editions of the Epic game system, ion shields were represented by a bonus to the Knight's front arc armour, whilst in the 6th and 7th Editions of the core Warhammer 40,000 game the Knight player had to declare which arc a Knight's shield was protecting when it was fired upon. The 8th Edition of the rules simplified things however, giving the Knight a standard 5+ invulnerable save against shooting from any direction as well as a couple of Stratagems that can briefly enhance an ion shield's effectiveness.
  • Feudal Future: The society on the majority of Knight Worlds is highly feudal, divided between the serf-like Drovers (who tend to herds and crops and are equipped with simple unarmed walkers); the Sacristans (a subset of the Mechanicus who look after the mecha and keep the peace between noble houses); and the Nobles of the Knightly Houses (who have exclusive access to the Humongous Mecha and use these to defend their subjects) who are sworn to a number of high lords. In turn, all the lords of a planet answer to a single Princeps or High Monarch, who is sworn to either Mars or Terra, respectively.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon:
    • The avenger gatling cannon is fitted with an auxiliary heavy flamer as a standard loadout, further increasing the weapon's already impressive Anti-Infantry capabilities.
    • The Acheron-pattern flame cannon is a massive flamethrower used by the highly aggressive Cerastus Knights-Acheron that is almost as powerful as the flamer class weapons utilized by Titans. Employed as much as a terror weapon as a weapon of extermination, Knights-Acheron are infamous for their excessive use of these weapons, reducing their enemies to ash floating through flame-scorched ruins.
    • The conflagration cannons fitted to the Dominus-class Knights Valiant are a trio of massive flamethrowers combined together into a single terrifying weapon that can engulf entire enemy formations in a sea of inescapable fire.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: The basic close combat attack for all Knight suits larger than an Armiger is to crush their enemies beneath their titanic feet. In previous editions, this was represented by the Thunderstomp attack that all super-heavy walkers could use, no matter what their race. The 8th Edition rules gave Imperial Knights titanic feet as a default weapon on their datasheet and introduced the 'Thunderstomp' Stratagem that has a chance of causing mortal wounds on engaged enemy after the Knight has made their close combat attacks.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Knights equipped with thunderstrike gauntlets can pick up defeated enemies and hurl them at their opponents. In-game, the 8th Edition rules represent this with a 50% chance of causing a nearby enemy unit to suffer mortal wounds if the Knight kills a monster or destroys a vehicle with its gauntlet.
  • Harpoon Gun: The Dominus-class Knight Valiant is equipped with a thundercoil harpoonnote . The weapon is designed to impale an enemy vehicle before delivering a powerful electrical discharge that fries its mechanisms. The Valiant can then reel the harpoon back in to use it again.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack:
    • The reaper chain-cleavers fitted to Armiger Warglaives are able to make a sweeping attack that can scythe through entire squads of infantry. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving the weapon two profiles, one for regular strikes and one for sweeping strikes that double the amount of attacks the Warglaive can make.
    • When surrounded by swarms of lesser infantry, the Noble pilots of Knights equipped with reaper chainswords will often swing their weapon in a bloody arc through the enemies ranks. In the 8th Edition of the game this is represented by the Chainsweep Stratagem that gives a Knight a chance of dealing mortal wounds against all nearby enemy units.
  • Homing Projectile: The shieldbreaker missiles used by Dominus-class Knights are an advanced variant of the hunter-killer missile, the most common form of self-guided munition used by the wider Imperium. The machine spirits of these guided munitions can be further enhanced in 8th Edition with the 'Oathbreaker Guidance System' Stratagem that allows them to be fired at concealed and hard to hit targets.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • The Code Chivalric followed by Nobles demands certain protocols of behavior and rules of engagement that must be adhered to, regardless of circumstance. Since the Becoming ritual undergone by every Noble essentially programs adherence to the Code Chivalric into them, they could literally be said to default to their code of honor as a behavioral guide before their reasoning mind even has a chance to address the problem.
    • Nobles of House Hawkshroud pride themselves in always fulfilling their oaths of allegiance, honouring their depts and answering any request for aid, no matter the cost. As a result of this, the House's home world of Krastellan is relatively lightly defended by the standards of Knight Worlds, something the Orks of Waaagh! Zagsmasha have taken advantage of since the opening of the Great Rift.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Imperial Knights are unique amongst the factions of the core Warhammer 40,000 game as they are an army consisting entirely of mecha of various sizes.
  • Knight Errant: Freeblade Knights are individual Nobles who, due to exile, being on extended attachment to an allied force, or being the last survivor of their House, often decide to forge their own path across the galaxy. Such Knights often opt to take up a quest, seek out mighty foes to slay or to protect whichever world they may end up on, but most still follow the codes of honour enforced by their Throne Mechanicum and will fight just as furiously as their Household brethren.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • Knights Lancer, a rare type of Knight suit notable for being much faster and more powerful than other kinds, in addition to having better close-combat abilities. The main reason they're only used as scouts and flankers instead of being the default type is because they're too difficult to manufacture to make in large numbers.
    • The ancient and advanced Cerastus-class Knights are slightly larger than the more common Questoris-class Knights and have a level of durability almost on a par with that of the Dominus-class in addition to their 'Blessed Autosimulacra' Ability that allows them to repair themselves. Despite their increased size and power, Cerastus Knights in 8th Edition have the same base Movement characteristic as Armiger-class Knights and, when moving at full speed, are slightly faster than their small and light counterpart due to their 'Flank Speed' Ability.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: Even by this setting's standards. The Knight Worlds are generally on a medieval tech level, apart from the Knights and any other toys the Adeptus Mechanicus feels like giving the local rulers.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • In early editions of the Epic game system, the heavily armed and armoured Knights Crusader and Knights Castellan were considerably slower than other classes of Knight but had improved armour saves and were equipped with Quake Cannons, massive weapons normally mounted on full scale Titans.
    • The 8th Edition of Warhammer 40,000 introduced Dominus-class Knights (represented by the Knight Castellan and the Knight Valiant) that have a slower Movement speed but more Wounds and firepower than the "standard" Questoris-class Knights.
    • The Acastus Knight Porphyrion is one of the largest Knight suits in existence, being nearly as large as the Scout Titans of the Collegia Titanica. These massive Knights are able to unleash massive amounts of firepower that can destroy almost any target and, in the 8th Edition rules, although they have the same armour save as other Knights the Porphyrion has a higher Wounds characteristic. This massive weight and power results in the Propyrion having the lowest Movement characteristic of any Knight, however.
  • Plasma Cannon: The 8th Edition version of the Knight Castellan is armed with a plasma decimator. Even on low power, these massive plasma weapons are capable of obliterating entire formations of enemy troops with ease and, like most other plasma weapons in the edition, can be supercharged to take on larger enemies.
  • Power Fist:
    • Thunderstrike gauntlets are massive power fists that can cause shockwaves just by being clenched into a fist.
    • Some classes of Knight, such as the Cerastus Knight-Acheron, are armed with a Reaper Chainfist that combines a power fist with a powerful chainblade.
  • Super Prototype: The Paragon Gauntlet was the first thunderstrike gauntlet ever produced and is thought to be a perfect copy of the original STC design. In-game, this masterwork is able to deal far more damage than its lesser imitators.
  • Sword and Gun: The default armament of many Questoris-class Knights, such as the Knight Paladin or Knight Errant, is a Reaper Chainsword mounted on one arm with a ranged weapon on the other. This loadout gives the Knight a good mix of ranged and close combat ability, allowing them to engage the enemy at a mix of ranges.
  • Taking You with Me: The conditioning that Nobles undergo to pilot their Knight suits makes them more than willing to sacrifice themselves to bring down their foes. Whether it is overloading the reactor of a heavily damaged Knightnote  or continuing to attack even as they are dragged down by the enemynote  Nobles will sell their life as dearly as possible.
  • Veteran Instructor: The arms-masters and precepts of the Knightly Houses are veteran Nobles who have fought the enemies of the Imperium for decades. Due to their experience, these Nobles are given the duty of training young Noble squires so that the are ready for their Ritual of Becoming and they are highly respected by even the highest ranked of a Houses Nobles. In battle arms-masters and precepts typically pilot Knight Preceptors and are accompanied by squadrons of Armiger-class Knights piloted by their students. To represent this the 8th Edition rules for the Knight Preceptor grant nearby Armigers a re-roll to their to hit rolls.

Sir Hekhtur the Chainbreaker & Canis Rex

There are none so detestable in all the length and breadth of the Imperium as those who make slaves of its loyal servants. Honest toil in the Emperor's name is one thing, for through industrious labour and needful hardship does a man ready his soul to receive the Emperor’s grace. But when the alien or the heretic places the yoke of slavery upon the necks of honest Imperial citizens, and turns their good works to foul ends, that is a sin of unforgivable magnitude. There is only one punishment fitting for such abominable tyrants… Death.

A former scion of House Cerberan, Sir Hekhtur was captured and tortured alongside his fellow pilots until his Knight Preceptor, Canis Rex, miraculously activated itself and freed its master. Since the fall of his House, Sir Hekhtur has offered his services as a Freeblade to the forces of the Imperium across the galaxy, determined to free all those oppressed by xenos warlords and heretical tyrants.

  • Last of His Kind: Sir Hekhtur is the last loyal Noble of House Cerberan, his fellows and entire world having been slaughtered or tortured into madness by the Iron Warriors.
  • Power Fist: Canis Rex is armed with Freedom’s Hand, a masterfully crafted thuderstrike gauntlet that, in-game, can cause double the damage of the regular version.
  • Slave Liberation: Since his escape from Iron Warriors captivity, Sir Hekhtur has vowed to free all those Imperial citizens enslaved by heretics and xenos.

    Mutants and Abhumans 

Twisted flesh, twisted soul.

The Imperium does not simply worship the Emperor, but also the holy human form. Part of the Imperium's Manifest Destiny states that humanity has a right to rule the galaxy. However, the simple fact is that after thousands of years on other worlds, various human populations have evolved into different types of humans. These are referred to as Abhumans or Mutants, variously; Abhumans are fairly minor, stable strains of mutation that are effectively the result of natural evolution caused by different environments, while Mutants are far more bizarre in form and stem from the wide variety of genetic degeneratives at loose in the galaxy at large — radiation, genetic warfare, toxic chemicals, et cetera. While the Imperium officially disdains them, some are useful or even necessary. In the time of the Emperor, the view of Abhumans and Mutants was more lenient, but after ten thousand years, the Imperium has taken a more draconian approach.

In the background, the most important of mutants are the Navigators, families who were genetically engineered in the distant past to navigate the Warp with psychic powers. Collectively, they form the Navis Nobilite, wealthy families who are necessary for the Imperium to survive. On the tabletop, certain Abhumans are useful to the Imperial Guard for specialist skills. Mutants, in the background and to an extent on the tabletop, are typically executed on sight for their genetic damage or kept as slaves. As a result, they are eager worshipers of Chaos, aided by the fact that Chaos tends to both cause mutation in its followers and treats those bearing mutations as being blessed by the Gods.

General Abhuman and Mutant tropes

  • Adaptational Heroism: The original Beast Men of Warhammer Fantasy are irredeemable Chaos mutants who loathe mankind and shun technology. The Beast Men of 40k are simply a product of evolution and can be loyal Imperial citizens if treated well.
  • The Atoner: Beastmen who followed the Imperial Cult were ruthless in purging the Emperor's enemies as penance for the "sin" of mutating.
  • Beast Man: The Homo sapiens variatus strain of abhuman, more commonly known as Beastmen, are goat-like humanoids with long, curved horns and shaggy fur. Although some have served the Imperium valiantly as part of the Militarum Auxilia, Beastmen are still most persecuted of all the abhuman subspecies and many scholars believe they could be reclassified as true mutants.
  • Body Horror: Generic mutants. Even those who haven't been touched by Chaos can sport all manner of strange and unnatural features, including but not limited to: extra eyes/mouths/limbs, rotting flesh, atrophied bodyparts, unnaturally swollen musculature, oversized bodyparts, scales, fur, fangs, claws, slime-oozing skin, blisters and warts, tentacles... Essentially, a mutant is living Body Horror and may or may not have Lovecraftian Superpowers as a result of it.
  • Cat Folk: This is the fandom's general perception of the felinids, who didn't get any specification aside from their scientific name (Homo sapiens hirsutus, literally "hairy") and the name of their home planet, "Carlos McConnell". Fan-created depictions range from "Imperial Catgirls" to full-on furries.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Originally, many Abhumans were transplants from Warhammer, but as time went on, they stopped being updated or even mentioned. The Squats are the most famous example of this.
  • Dumb Muscle: Increased size, strength and toughness at a cost of lowered intelligence is a fairly common mutation. Some, however, are bigger, stronger, and tougher than regular humans while being just as smart or smarter than humans.
  • Extra Eyes: They're a common mutation, and can turn up in the strangest places.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Imperium typically takes a very dim view of mutation from the accepted norm of the "Holy Human Form", though the degree to which a typical citizen subscribes to this will vary. One major reason for this is that mutation is often a sign that one is becoming corrupted by the Warp, potentially becoming a vessel for the Ruinous Powers. However, this hatred extends to those whose mutations are caused by more "mundane" sources, such as generations of exposure to radiation or industrial waste, leading to widespread hatred and distrust of all mutants. Since mutation can continue to appear generation after generation, killing all mutants tends to be impractical, so most are allowed to exist as an oppressed underclass, looked down upon by all.
    • Abhumans are subraces of humans whose differences have manifested into stable genotypes, without the randomness seen as signs of corruption. They often suffer some prejudices related to their differences, but find a much better measure of acceptance, especially if those differences make them valuable to the Imperium in some way. Navigators in particular, while still somewhat feared, are also held in a degree of awe due to the absolutely essential role that they play in the Imperium.
  • Heavy Worlder: How Ogryns and Squats came to be, even though they went in completely different directions. This was explained in older fluff as the Squats being descended from the inhabitants of mining worlds who explicitly set up their cities underground to pursue minerals and escape their worlds' toxic atmospheres, with the lack of headspace accounting for their height and the high gravity for their toughness and strength.
  • Human Subspecies: The stable abhuman strains are self-perpetuating offshoots of humanity, descended from populations of baseline human colonists in the Dark Age of Technology who had to adapt to extreme or unusual environments, such as the Ogryns descending from the inmates of high-gravity prison worlds or the Nightsiders from inhabitants of lightless planets. As such, they're no more at risk of Chaos corruption than anyone else. Doesn't stop most Imperial citizens from considering them no better than xenos or mutants, mind.
  • Lightworlder: One abhuman strain, the Longshanks, have grown extremely tall and thin after millennia spent living on low-gravity planets. As a result, they are unable to endure Earth-normal gravity, and are effectively stuck on their homeworlds.
  • Lizard Folk: The Scalies of Necromunda, a strain of massive reptilian abhumans marked by scaly skin and the ability to regrow lost limbs and regenerate wounds.
  • N-Word Privileges: Many refer to each other as "twists", but for a non-mutant to use that would be seen as a nasty insult.
  • Radiation-Immune Mutants: One of the reasons why mutants are often employed as a labor force is that they are often willing (if only grudgingly so because Fantastic Racism and circumstances limit their options) to perform labor in and around whatever corrupting influence mutated them in the first place (caustic industrial chemicals, aggressive fertilizers, radiation-leaking reactors, toxin-laden mines, etc.) While they are not necessarily immune to further effects, they are already twisted beyond the Holy Human Form and a little more would hardly make things much worse for them.

Specific important mutants and abhumans


In my high seat I gaze into the immaterium and see the shadow that our own universe casts into depthlessness. This eye... this eye sees gentle flows of soul-stuff where the becalmed mind might starve to death, and tides and churns of genius and hate. The warp mocks the power of words to describe. But what I can never turn my back on is the power and the beauty of the Emperor. I see His soul shine out from Earth and His presence fill every corner of the immaterium. [...] I have known from the first time I beheld it that I could do nothing but follow that light with my life.

One of the most important strains of abhuman in the Imperium, the Navigators of the Navis Nobilite are mutants thought to have been created through genetic manipulation during the Dark Age of Technology. Navigators sport a third eye in the centre of their foreheads that allows them to see the fluctuations of the warp and the light of the Astronomican, and thus guide Imperial ships (relatively) safely through the immaterium. Their importance to interstellar travel and trade has allowed some Navigator Houses to gain incredible power, and the head of the Navis Nobilite, the Paternova, is one of the permanent members of the High Lords of Terra.

  • Arranged Marriage: Since Navigators can only pass on their psyker genes by procreating with other Navigators, marriages among the Navis Nobilite are arranged usually between rival houses to ensure genetic stability and as a form of alliance.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: When the Paternova dies, the Heirs Apparent (the most powerful Navigators of each house) become larger, stronger, and more aggressive. They then fight and kill each other for the right of Paternova.
  • Blindfolded Vision: When not actively guiding a ship, Navigators will cover their Third Eye, as looking into it can cause madness. This makes limiting others' exposure to it necessary. This covering can take many forms, from a headband, to a veil, to an eyepatch, to a low-pulled hood, or even occasionally a cybernetic shutter-like metallic eyelid.
  • Body Horror: Thanks to a limited breeding pool, the possibility of imperfect genetic tampering on the part of some ancestors, and generations of necessary Warp exposure, Navigators often suffer from a variety of minor mutations. As Navigators age these mutations become more obvious and extreme, with some of them even transforming into ugly frog-octopus things. It's an accepted fact of life for them and even during the brutal inter-house coldwars both sides will respect this secret and ensure that nobody breaks the masquerade. The Emperor was aware of these mutations but decided to tolerate them.
  • Deadly Gaze: Staring into a Navigator's Warp Eye is commonly said to cause either insanity or death. No one wants to test it, and Navigators must wear hoods, scarves, or headbands of psyk-resistant material around normal humans.
  • Extra Eyes: Navigators possess a "Warp eye" allowing them to see the currents of the Immaterium and guide ships through it. This is not a poetic turn of phrase.
  • Feuding Families: Among the Navis Nobilite, there exist conflicts known as Tradewars, which include limited conflict among the families. The Administratum tolerates these to a point, as long as they're short and not too destructive.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Averted by the Navigators when exposed to the Warp, which is what makes them unique in the setting in which this trope is otherwise played straight. Their Third Eye allows them to perceive the Warp in a way which will not overwhelm their mortal mind, enabling their ability to guild a ship through its currents. This perception is subjective, and each Navigator will see it in a different manner, so that when they try to describe it to others, the only way they can do so is through vaguely poetic metaphor.
  • The Navigator: Specialized in navigating through the Warp. They only have the Astronomican as a point of reference and must navigate their ships through the currents of the warp continuously to lead them into specific star systems.
  • The Patriarch: The Paternova, the leader of the Navis Nobilite, who is called the "father of the Warp", and is somehow able to increase the Warp sense of his family's Navigators.
  • Walking the Earth: Some Navigator families abandon their wealthy estates and take to wandering the galaxy.
  • Weirdness Coupon: The Navigators are mutants whose elders begin mutating beyond the norms of the "holy human form", and yet are fantastically wealthy and have a permanent seat on the High Lords of Terra. They're so absolutely vital to star travel that they have to be given these things.

Top: An Ogryn.
Bottom: A Bullgryn BONE'ead.

- Listen, Ordrogg, the Emperor's very pleased with all of you, OK?
- Him? He's pleased?
- Very pleased. He's watching you now. He says he wants you to go over to the Robots and stick with them. You got that?
- Yerr. On our way.

Hailing from high gravity worlds, often originally founded as prison planets, Ogryns are an abhuman strain known for their strength, size and stupidity. When recruited into Astra Militarum Auxilla Regiments their extreme durability and power make them exceptional shock troops capable of shattering an enemy battleline with a single, brutal charge. With the right indoctrination, the limited intelligence of an Ogryn is easily turned into an unwavering loyalty to their commanders and the Imperium that, when combined with their physical abilities, makes them perfect as battlefield bodyguards.

  • Artistic License – Biology: The Ogryns supposedly came about as a natural evolution of humans living on high gravity planets, with their increased muscle mass being used to offset the effects of gravity. In reality, this is likely the opposite of what would happen. Thanks to the Square-Cube Law, high gravity worlds would favour smaller lifeforms, not larger ones (the Squats actually got this part correct).
  • Bash Brothers: When not organized into a unit unto themselves, an Ogryn will usually be paired up with a "little'un" whose job it is to stay with the Ogryn at all times and keep them pointed at the enemy during combat and make sure they do not accidentally hurt themselves or others while out of it.
  • BFG: Ogryns will sometimes be employed as heavy-weapon teams, as they can easily swing around a large gun that would otherwise take two soldiers and a carriage to wheel around. Said Ogryns typically do best with weapons that have a high rate of fire and require little or very simple reloading since it is easier to hold an Ogryn's interest with such a "toy" that they continue to use it to enthusiastic effect.
  • The Big Guy: Of the Astra Militarum. While too slow-witted to ever use (and not break) almost all of the weaponry of the Astra Militarum, their might and durability is nigh unmatched and is even greater than Space Marines - though of course, any given Space Marine will prove superior at literally anything else. The equipment of “Bullgryns” allows them to act as walking cover for allied Guardsmen, meaning these big lugs can be strong enough to wear enough armor to be comparable to an armored vehicle.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Ogryns may be too dumb to use any weaponry that isn’t specifically made for them, incapable of basic hygiene, generally unable to comprehend orders any much more complex than “Move/stay there” and “Kill it!”, and too claustrophobic to ride inside of armored fighting vehicles, but their near-unparalleled strength, fortitude and loyalty (outstripping even Space Marines) makes them valuable troops for close-combat in the Astra Militarum’s neverending battle across the stars.
  • Canis Latinicus: The official Ogyrn species name is Homo sapiens gigantus. However, there are seven distinct types, including H. s. gigantus gigantus and H. s. gigantus cranopus.
  • Claustrophobia: Ogryns commonly suffer from extreme claustrophobia, with enclosed spaces making them very frightened and jumpy. In some editions of the rules, this claustrophobia was so bad that Ogryns were unable to enter a transport vehicle unless they were accompanied by a character as no Ogryn would refuse a direct order, no matter how uncomfortable it made them.
  • Close-Range Combatant: Ogryns are usually used to handle the sort of fierce hand-to-hand combat the Imperial Guardsmen can't be expected to reliably succeed in. In fact, Ogryns are so brawny and resilient that they're more formidable than a number of Close-Range Combatant units from factions whose overall focus is being Close-Range Combatants. That being said, Bullgryns are an alternative method of deploying them, which are more of an Ogryn Shield.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Ogryns are great at crushing enemies in close-combat, lifting or carrying things, absorbing weapons' fire, and are just about mentally incapable of anything else in military terms (they don't even like riding inside of enclosed vehicles), save for a small few that are enhanced to be at least capable of giving their Ogryn compatriots orders. Fortunately for their prospects, they do their specialization a lot better than any of the Puny Earthlings they fight for.
  • Dash Attack: Ogryns learn to use their sheer bulk to crush their opponents when charging into combat. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving Ogryns the 'Avalanche of Muscle' ability that gives them extra Attacks when they charge into combat.
  • Dumb Muscle: Ogryns are massive, powerful, and dumb, even moreso than your basic Ork Boy. During the Horus Heresy, it was said that those who fought on the Chaos side only did so because were told the other guys had betrayed the Emperor. The smarter ones are given augmetic upgrades called Biochemical Ogryn Neural Enhancement (BONE) to boost their intelligence a bit more. This allows them to become sergeants of Ogryn squads, called Bone'eads.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Chaos forces also makes use of Ogryns. Ogryn Berserkers are Khornate warriors, lobotomized and driven to murderous fury by a drug called Slaught. Plague Ogryns are used by the armies of Nurgle as walking disease incubators due to their size, strength, and endurance.
    • In general, "Big Mutants" tend to be depicted as being akin to Ogryns or as corrupted Ogryns.
  • Feel No Pain: A downplayed example - they're not quite immune to pain, but their Super Toughness nonetheless is said to let them act like nothing happened after being hit by enough gunfire to tear a bear to shreds.
  • Human Shield: The 2014 Astra Militarum codex introduced Ogryn specialists known as Bullgryns whose functionality in the armor is to act this way. Turns out that an Ogryn inside a massive suit of carapace armor and carrying a huge tower shield or force-field projecting buckler is a pretty good mobile wall. When you arm him with an underarm-slung grenade launcher, which is reinforced so it can stand up to being used as an improvised tonfa, or else with an armor-vaporizing greatclub, he can dish out a fair amount of damage, too.
  • Improvised Armor: The front plates of Bullgryn carapace armor are made from sections of tracks from Leman Russ tanks.
  • Improbably Low IQ: To give you an idea of how dumb Ogryns are, Nork Deddog, the setting's most famous Ogryn, knows the first letter of his name ("N is for Nork!") and can count to four. These accomplishments are said to make him a genius of almost unparalleled intelligence for an Ogryn.
  • The Klutz: Their great strength and poor self-control means that they tend to accidentally break things that they interact with, unless those things are large and reinforced. Hence why they virtually always use customized equipment.
  • Literal-Minded: Due to their Undying Loyalty, and their near religious belief in the chain of command, Ogryns will follow orders to the best of their ability until ordered otherwise, no matter the odds against them. If, for example, an Orgyn was told to guard an officer, and they'll fight to death to protect them, and should the officer die without the Ogryn knowing they will continue to guard his body while he waits for them to "wake up".
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: These ten-feet-tall giants of fat and muscle are about as mighty as you'd expect. Nork Deddog was noted to have dragged an entire Chimera armored fighting vehicle across a battlefield over to his wounded charge (he didn't want to actually go into it to get the medical kit that was inside).
  • Our Ogres Are Different: Ogryns are Abhumans who evolved on high-gravity worlds with barren environments. Unlike the Squats, who developed in roughly the same kind of environment but are much like classic dwarfs, Ogryns are huge, standing taller than even Space Marines.
  • The Pig-Pen: Ogryns are known for being flabby and having horrible hygiene, and are often called Fats, Flabs, Slobs and Stenches as a result.
  • Pistol-Whipping: In battle Ogryns will often use whatever they have at hand to batter their foes into a bloody pulp. As such the standard armament used by Ogryns, the ripper gun, is designed to be as sturdy as possible so that its wielder can be repeatedly used as a club yet still fire afterwards. The 8th Edition of the game gives the ripper gun both a ranged and melee stat line to represent this.
  • Private Military Contractors: In early editions of the game, some Ogryn tribes would hire themselves out to other military forces as mercenaries, with the 2nd Edition Codex: Orks including such units as an army list option.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Played with. Ogryn are taught to hate and kill the enemies of the Imperium, but this is usually the result of exploitation of their innocent, childlike nature more than inborn aggression.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The Ripper gun is the Ogryns' standard firearm, and is used just as much as a club as a shotgun. They are also capable of being fully-automatic, but the weapons have built-in burst-limiters to help make sure the Ogryns using them don't fire off all of their ammunition as fast as they would.
  • Super Toughness: Small arms fire is about as lethal to Ogryns as some flies buzzing around them, and Jumping on a Grenade just might cause them to feel something. Bullgryn formations make use of this by equipping some Ogryns with a bunch of armor and a shield to allow them to act as a moving bunker for other infantrymen.
  • Undying Loyalty: Ogryns believe that the Emperor has personally issued them every order (being worked down from the chain of command) and thus obey orders to the best of their abilities. In a tragic demonstration of this, many Ogyrns fought on the side of Chaos during the Horus Heresy, but they didn't knowingly do so: they all genuinely believed that they were still fighting for the Emperor and the Imperium, when really it was their superiors misleading them with lies.
  • Upgrade Artifact: Ogryn Bone'eads are Ogryns who have received extensive brain augmentation by the implantation of very high-quality neural implants provided by the Adeptus Mechanicus. Such implants are rare and precious, and few outside of the Cult Mechanicus are ever blessed with them, but in the case of Ogryns the Munitorium considers it worth the expense and effort to get at least one Ogryn in every group enhanced in this manner, as having a squad leader who can fully understand orders and think independently (if not particularly creatively) is a great force multiplier for Ogryn squads.
  • Weirdness Coupon: They're mutants, but they make extremely loyal soldiers who love cracking heretic and xeno skulls for the Emperor.


Little thieves! Thieves and vagabonds, the lot of them. They're petty-minded, larcenous little subhuman scum to the last. Everyone overlooks it because they can shoot straight and can cook a decent meal. You can't trust them... any of them. They'll steal your chrono if you shake hands with them, and as likely to pick your pocket as praise the Emperor's name...
— Anonymous Imperial Guardsman

Despite being a diminutive and weak strain of abhuman, Ratlings have nonetheless proven to be invaluable recruits for Astra Militarum Auxilla Regiments due to their natural marksmanship abilities making them superlative snipers. Originating on isolated and peaceful agrarian worlds, Ratlings tend to be undisciplined and lazy, with a predilection towards hedonism and kleptomania that can get them into trouble with their human superiors. Their reputation as excellent chefs and their instinctive talent for black-market dealings can, however, gain Ratlings an acceptance from the common Guardsman that other abhumans struggle to gain.

  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Imperial Guardsmen they serve with generally take a dim view of these diminutive, greedy, thieving, lecherous, cowardly weaklings that would lose to Tau in hand-to-hand combat, but the Astra Militarum tolerates these flaws for the potential as excellent snipers, scouts and even cooks.
  • Canis Latinicus: The official Ratling species name is Homo sapiens minimus.
  • Dying Race: Ratling populations have suffered greatly due to Tyranid invasions of their worlds.
  • Explosive Breeder: Ratlings procreate like there is no tomorrow... and there may not be.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Due to their short stature, Ratlings are also referred to as Runtlings, Stunties, Halflings, or Maggots.
  • Friendly Sniper: ZigZagged. Ratlings are gregarious, enjoy a good feast, and make excellent snipers, but The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer warns that petty crime rates and illegal gambling increase in regiments with Ratling squads attached.
  • The Hedonist: Ratlings enjoy the finer aspects of life, which means they love to eat until sick, drink like fish and breed like rabbits.
  • Hobbits: Like Tolkien's hobbits, Ratlings are very short, compactly built, and tend to be portrayed with large, hirsute feet. They also love food, both the making and the eating.
  • Long-Range Fighter: These snipers are one of the worst units for close combat, so keep anything that could charge them very far away or see them beaten to death. Seriously, these guys will lose to Tau in a melee.
  • Medieval Stasis: Ratling worlds are largely agricultural and medieval in culture and civilization, with the Ratlings' unambitious nature and culture of hedonism keeping them that way.
  • Sniper Rifle: Ratlings are often recruited into the Imperial Guard as snipers, equipped with sniper rifles and flak armour.
  • Supreme Chef: Not exactly, but they can certainly do a lot with very little.


We have always been a race of traders. It is natural to us that we should trade the fighting skills of our Brotherhoods. As well as bringing us a profit, it also allows our youngsters to gain experience and honour, and to keep alive the skills which our strongholds may one day need for their own defence.

A diminutive and stocky strain of abhuman adapted to a subterranean life on the high-gravity worlds near the galactic core, the Squats are thought to be one of the more populous abhumans in the galaxy. Separated from humanity for tens of millennia on barren planets with radioactive surface conditions, the Squats have developed advanced technology and food production systems, but also had a fatalistic attitude toward life. Both militaristic and mercantile, the Squats have had contact with a number of xenos races, developing an intense enmity for the Orks while establishing more peaceful and beneficial relationships with some Aeldarinote  communities. Eventually, the Squats were rediscovered by and reabsorbed into the Imperium but are allowed a greater autonomy than some other abhuman strains as their tech fascinated the Adeptus Mechanicus and their military might made them a welcome addition to the Imperial armed forces.

While popular in the Epic-scale game system, the Squats never saw much use within the core game, nor did they fit very well in the increasingly Grim Dark setting, having been introduced when the setting was a transparent In Space version of Warhammer. In addition to this, the game designers could never settle on an adequate theme for the army, and depictions of them wavered between goofy space dwarfs and miniature Badass Bikers. In 1994, they were discontinued with later explanations claiming that the Tyranids had descended upon their Homeworlds and stripped them clean of all life. For a long time it was Games Workshop's official position that they wouldn't even be mentioned in the background material, or on any of the official websites. This policy was eventually change to making the Squats a background race with that the reprinted edition of Space Marine listed an encounter with Squats in its novel summary, and the 6th and 7th edition rulebooks' appendices listing Squats as one of the main abhuman strains. In 2018, the Squats finally made a return to the tabletop with a new model in the form of Grendl Grendlsen, a Hired Gun for the 3rd Edition of the Gaiden Game Necromunda.

  • Badass Biker: The Squats used bikes as personal transports to cross the barren landscapes between their Strongholds. The Squat Engineers Guild were particularly well known for using entire squadrons of warriors riding armed and reinforced bikes and trikes to support the Warrior Brotherhoods of a Stronghold. In-game this gave the Squats far more speed and manoeuvrability than is usual for a Dwarf-themed faction and was one of the race's few unique elements.
  • Base on Wheels: The Land Trains that travel across the barren surfaces of the Squat Homeworlds consist of several large, tracked machines linked together to form a larger mobile structure with each individual car typically having its own speciality, ranging from transport to self-defence or artillery. Originally created to transport supplies between Strongholds, Land Trains had to be durable enough to survive the harsh conditions of the Homeworlds and heavily armed to protect themselves against alien (Ork in particular) raiders. When adapted for war, these massive machines prove to be powerful assets, acting as mobile fortresses that anchor the Squat battle line.
  • Canis Latinicus: The official Squat species name is Homo sapiens rotundus.
  • The Bus Came Back: 2012's 6th Edition rulebook saw the return of the Squats to the background material and in February 2018 saw the announcement that a new Squat mode, the first in 20 years, would be produced for the Gaiden Game Necromunda.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Between the 3rd and 6th editions of Warhammer 40,000 Games Workshop refused to acknowledge the Squats as part of the setting, taking measures ranging from simply ignoring any questions about them to suspending posters being from the official Games Workshop forums for mentioning them too much. Some Black Library novels were even rewritten slightly when they were rereleased, such as Grimm from Ian Watson's Inquisition War trilogy being Ret-Conned into a Tech Priest.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: It took Games Workshop a while to decide if they wanted to keep the Squats in the setting or not, which meant that there was a long period of time where there was really no word on when the next update for them was coming out until they finally made their dropping official.
  • Cool Airship: The Squats were known to field heavily-armored, rigid-bodied lighter-than-air craft in battle.
  • Demoted to Extra: Although they returned to the background material in the 6th Edition of the game, the Squats haven't returned as a playable unit of faction in the core game.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: When they were first discontinued the reason stated in the background information was that the Squat Homeworlds had been devoured by a Tyranid Hive Fleet. This idea was subsequently dropped from canon.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Downplayed. The Squats used to trade with the Eldar during their Age of Isolation before the establishment of the Imperium. But when they were attacked by Orks, they sent requests to the Eldar for aid, which the Eldar ignored. Relations between the Squats and the Eldar have been cold ever since then, with the Squats regarding the Eldar as unreliable and untrustworthy.
  • Enemy Mine: The background material for the 2nd Edition of the game mentions that two of the most influential Squat Leagues, the League of Thor and the League of Grindel once fought a bitter war against each other that caused the destruction of several Strongholds and untold loss of life. The war only came to end when the two Leagues came under attack from a massive Ork Waaagh! that forced them to combine their against their hated foe.
  • Expy: As with many other factions who date back to the 1st Edition of Warhammer 40,000, the Squats were originally created as a far future version of their Warhammer counterpart, the Dwarfs.
  • Future Copter: The Iron Eagle Attack Gyrocopter is the primary aircraft used by the Squat Engineers Guild. The Iron Eagle has a high-powered turbofan mounted on each side of its hull which, when combined with the aircraft's gravitic thrusters, gives it phenomenal manoeuvrability.
  • Heavy Worlder: Strangely enough, the Imperial Guard's Ogryns also come from high-gravity worlds, but turned out completely different. The demands of their unbreathable high-pressure atmospheres and underground warrens may have been a contributing factor to the Squats current size.
  • Higher-Tech Species: The Squats were very dependent on their technology from the foundings of their Homeworlds, and lost only a small fraction of it in comparison to what the bulk of the humanity lost from the Dark Age of Technology. Spared from the restrictions of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Squats innovated freely, their harsh situations making such necessary. When the Imperium finally reestablished contact with them, the Squats had developed a wide variety of technologies that no one else had, such as power generators which drew directly from the Warp, and neo-plasma, as well as superior metallurgy.
  • Mood Dissonance: Part of the reason Squats were problematic were that they tonally did not fit in with the rest of the setting.
  • Powered Armor: The elite Hearthguard wear suits of Exo-armour, heavy armour comparable to suits of Imperial Terminator Armour.
  • Private Military Contractors: Squat mercenaries are highly sought after renowned for their skill, determination and reliability, especially when fighting against Orks. Early editions of the Epic scale version of the game represented this by allowing any army, except Orks and Chaos, to include companies of Squad mercenaries in their force.
  • Recycled In Space: The Squats were 40K's take on the Dwarfs from Warhammer.
  • The Scottish Trope: An unofficial but heavily enforced rule on the old Games Workshop forums was that anyone who stated that the Squats should be brought back would be banned. Therefore, any mention of them would decidedly have to avoid a direct reference to their faction's name.
  • Target Spotter: Colossus super-heavy vehicles are always accompanied by an Iron Eagle Gyrocopter that maintains a constant data-link with the massive war machine's fire control centres so that it can instantly relay accurate targeting data. In game terms this partnership allows the Colossus to use the Gyrocopter's line of sight when firing its artillery weaponry.
  • Tunnel King: As a culture. The Squat Homeworlds almost never had a breathable atmosphere, and often a high pressure one at that, so the Squats became experts in underground construction and living by necessity. This in turn is part of why they were so hard to rout when invaded—their underground warrens were resistant to bombardment from above and the confined spaces would heavily favor the defenders.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Best summed up by this quote:
    You people do well at war because you treat it as a religion. We do well because we treat it as a business. It is just a matter of outlook.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The monstrous Hellfury Cannon mounted on the Cyclops super-heavy vehicle fires a stream of phased particles that react with each other to create a beam of pure energy that can destroy any target it hits. Even energy fields are little protection as the energy flux within the beam overloads them in swift succession.
  • Weirdness Coupon: The Squats were only ever part of the Imperium in the most nominal sense, the Great Crusade having fought almost to a stalemate over their worlds when the Imperium tried to forcibly absorb them. The conflict was settled with a variety of treaties in which the Squats could maintain their self-governance without Administratum oversight and were allowed to maintain their own culture, only offering the Imperium their occasional effectual support. The fact that they maintain their own culture, do not report to Imperial authorities, vary from the norm of the Holy Human Form, and do not believe in the Imperial Cult would normally be seen as an unacceptable level of deviance on the Squats' part. However, this arrangement works due to the general stability of their genome, their fundamental reliability, dislike of xenoforms, and resource and technology contributions to the Imperium.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Inverted by the Squat psykers known as Living Ancestors who are thought to gain their Psychic Powers because they have lived for so long. It is believed that after living for longer than the typical 300-year life expectancy a Squat grows closer to the spirit world and after approximately 500 years of life the Squat begins to manifest psychic abilities that enable them to tap into the powers of the afterlife.

    Officio Assassinorum 

For those that defy the Imperium, only the Emperor can judge your crimes. Only in death can your receive the Emperor's judgement.

The Officio Assassinorum (Office of Assassins) is one of the Imperium's most closely guarded secrets. Founded during the Great Crusade to remove threats to the Emperor's plans that the Master of Mankind could not be seen to move openly against, the Officio in its current form was official sanctioned in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy. Based on Holy Terra itself, the Officio Assassinorum is organised into a series of temples, each one dedicated to a particular murderous art. There are many Temples of the Assassins in the service of the Imperium, the largest and most famousnote  of which are the shapeshifting Callidus, the soulless Culexus, the berserker Eversor and the sniper Vindicare. Other, lesser temples include the propagandist Vanus, the poison masters of the Venenum and the disbanded Maerorus. No matter their particular style, however, the operatives of the Officio Assassinorum eliminate their targets, be they xenos, heretical or Imperial, with cold proficiency.

Such is the importance of the Officio Assassinorum, its Grand Master is one of the permanent members of the High Lords of Terra, and only this council have the authority to sanction the deployment of these embodiments of the Emperor's Justice. With the opening of the Great Rift, however, the threat that the Imperium faces is greater than ever before and every single Imperial Assassin has been deployed simultaneously for the first time.

Originally classed as "diplomatic agents" in the 1st Edition of Warhammer 40,000note , the Imperial Assassins were revamped into their current form during 2nd Edition and have had rules in most subsequent editions. Assassinorum: Execution Force, a board game pitting all four major assassin types against Chaos Space Marines, was released in 2015. The 8th Edition rules for Assassins were included in the Index Imperialis: Assassins article from the March 2019 issue of White Dwarf.

General Assassin tropes:

  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: The Assassins were founded so that the Emperor would never have to get his hands dirty. They also have vaults containing forbidden alien technology which the Adeptus Mechanicus would consider heretical.
  • Brain–Computer Interface: Vanus Assassins are equipped with specialized augmetics that increase their brains' ability to absorb data, essentially turning them into human computers.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Some of the more... "volatile" Imperial Assassins are subject to this, being mindwiped after every mission and having their next mission subliminally programmed into them while kept sedated. Eversors are a common example, though this is not necessarily limited to them.
  • Carnival of Killers: While rare (in part because the Officio Assassinorum only takes in a couple of recruits each year and can't afford to take massive losses), there have been occasions where multiple Imperial Assassins are deployed to eliminate a single target. This kind of grouping is known as an Execution Force, and only two have been mentioned in the fluff - the very first one, commissioned during the Horus Heresy to assassinate Horus, and another tasked with assassinating Lord Drask, which forms the plot of Assassinorum: Execution Force. A third Execution Force is indicated to have been deployed during the Second Agrellan Crusade to decapitate the T'au leadership, as members of Callidus, Culexus, Eversor, and Vindicare temples were present and attempting to kill the high ranking T'au in the region, with the Culexus succeeding in eliminating Aun'Va.
  • Charles Atlas Super Power: While there is some element of augmentation common to many Assassin Temples, much of an Assassin's abilities come from their long Training from Hell as much as anything else.
  • The Chessmaster: The Vanus Temple consists entirely of these. As one of their members said, 'the cleanest kill is one that another performs in your stead with no knowledge of your incitement'.
  • Egocentric Team Naming: The original Assassin Temples were named after the Directors Primus of the pre-existing organisations of Assassins who met at the outset of the Great Crusade to dedicate themselves to the secret destruction of the Emperor's enemies.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Exceptional young orphans taken in by the Schola Progenium are subjected to various survival tests in dangerous conditions and combat amongst each other. Those that survive are even more badass. This is not enough to survive anything further that a future Assassin will face, so these students are then given extensive augmetic surgeries through arcane technologies to make them superhuman enough to withstand the next phase of training.
  • Master Poisoner: While many Assassins utilise a variety of poisons and toxins on their missions, operatives of the Venenum Temple are the true masters of the art. One piece of Flavor Text details the successful Assassination of all thousand members of an anti-Imperial planetary government by the Venenum Assassin Urua Thereaux who spent three days poisoning the chairs of their council chamber.
  • Murder, Inc.: The Officio Assassinorum provides elite Assassins used by Imperial organizations such as the Inquisition. The Grand Master of Assassins, the head of the Office, is one of the High Lords of Terra, and is heavily monitored by the other High Lords, as the Grand Master could (and at one point did) easily wipe the others out.
  • Psycho Prototype: Legienstrasse, the lone Assassin created by the now-defunct Maerorus Temple, went rogue and took an insane amount of effort to kill, including multiple attempts by the Space Marines, Inquisition, and other Assassin temples.
  • Rule of Seven: When they were first introduced to the game's background material, there were only seven Assassin Temples who trained the Imperium's greatest killers. While the background has been expanded to include minor, unnamed, temples and the disbanded Maerorus Temple, there are still only seven named Temples active in the game's storyline.
  • Spy Catsuit: The stereotypical garb of an Imperial Assassin is a layer of "synskin", a kind of semi-organic body sheath applied directly over the Assassin's flesh. Multiple variations of it exist, some of which enhance strength, others of which have chameleon qualities, and some are capable of changing shape (along with the wearer).
  • Straight for the Commander: During the 32nd millennium, Drakan Vangorich (then-Grand Master of the Assassins) orchestrated the deaths of all the other High Lords in a bid to take control of the Imperium. He was eventually killed by a Space Marine strike force, but not before an extremely bloody conflict.
  • Super Reflexes: Imperial Assassins of all stripes have their reflexes trained to such a level that they can literally Dodge the Bullet in combat.
  • Training from Hell: All Assassin candidates are selected as children and go through 10 years of harsh, intensive training just to become novice Assassins, with tests and trials continuing throughout their lives.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?:
    • The Inquisition's Ordo Sicarius monitors the Assassins to keep another major power grab from ever happening.
    • Certain elements of the Inquisition have secretly sought ways to police or even eliminate the Space Marines, and the Assassins are privy to these machinations.

Tropes for the Vindicare Assassin:

Exitus Acta Probat: the outcome justifies the deed.
— Dictatus Vindicare

Some of the greatest marksmen in the Imperium, Assassins of the Vindicare Temple are snipers beyond compare, able to bring death to their targets from extreme range with great ease. Armed with custom-built exitus weaponry that they treat with the care and attention that a parent has for a child, Vindicare Assassins use a variety of specialised ammunition to deliver the Emperor's Judgement with a single shot regardless of the measures their target may take to defend themselves.

  • Abnormal Ammo: In the background material, and some editions of the rules, Vindicare Assassins are equipped with a variety of specialized shells used in their exitus weapons. Expensive and very rare, these shells are capable of one-shotting a tank, nullifying Deflector Shields, or injecting the target with a lethal neuro-toxin.
  • Ace Custom: Literally every exitus rifle and pistol is custom built to perfectly fit the ergonomics of the Vindicare who is to wield them.
  • BFG: The exitus rifle is a highly advanced Sniper Rifle as long, if not longer, than the Vindicare is tall. Despite their size, Vindicare Assassins are able to handle the exitus rifle as easily as other troops can handle smaller rifles.
  • Cold Sniper: Vindicare assassins are conditioned to be emotionally cut off from other humans so that they never hesitate to pull the trigger on the target. Their training has left them so dehumanized that their vocabulary only includes words that would be useful for work.
  • The Fatalist: An outlook Vindicares tend to have as a result of their indoctrination. On the rare occasion they find any part of their work amusing, it usually lends itself to the Gallows Humor of the inevitability they see everywhere.
  • Hand Cannon: As if they weren't overcompensating enough with their exitus rifles, the Vindicare Assassins also get the exitus pistol, which is supposed to provide them with plenty of firepower in the event of an emergency.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Assassins of the Vindicare temple are expert marksmen and infiltrators, complete with special guns and ammunition allowing them to potentially one-shot a tank from kilometers away. In-game the Vindicare's Deadshot ability makes them one of the few units capable of targeting a character model, even if they aren't the closest model, and in third and fourth editions were the only models that could pick out individual models from units, allowing them to snipe special weapons and squad leaders.

Tropes for the Callidus Assassin:

To assume the shape of the accursed, and deliver death from the purity within you.
— Dictatus Callidus

Subtle and deceptive, the predominantly female Callidus Temple use their shapeshifting abilities to spread confusion and misinformation amongst enemy forces and organisations before eliminating key figures, plunging the foe into chaos and easy prey for an Imperial assault. Callidus Assassins are also dispatched when the High Lords of Terra wish to remove someone in upmost secrecy, the operative eliminating their target and disappearing without leaving a clue as to who was responsible.

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Phase Swords used by Callidus Assassins are able to cut through absolutely anything by phasing in and out of realspace.
  • Amazon Brigade: The vast majority of Callidus Assassins are female, as polymorphine works better for women.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Phase swords are worn on a bracer attached to the back of a Callidus Assassin's wrist so that she has her hand free to manipulate objects and wield her poisoned blades.
  • Braids of Action: Callidus assassins are usually depicted in both artwork and their models with a huge braid of hair which is the only part of their bodies that is uncovered.
  • Humanshifting: Callidus Assassins have access to polymorphine, allowing them to disguise themselves as a member of just about any humanoid race. They are employed to infiltrate enemy organizations, supply them with false intelligence or bad advice, and surgically remove the leadership. Transforming into non-humanoid races is possible but requires surgery and extra equipment to complete the transformation.
  • Kill and Replace: Callidus Assassins not only kill their targets, they frequently assume their roles and duties in order to cause subtle disruptions and destabilize the entire operation.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Callidus Assassins carry multiple poisoned knives and needles about their person as secondary weapons. The Assassin will use these blades against particularly tough opponents as their poison is so lethal they will wound any living opponent.
  • Swallowed Whole: One piece of Flavor Text tells the tale of an infamous Callidus Assassin known as Mother Gullet. Upon discovering that her target, a defiant Imperial Governor, had a young son that he doted on, the Assassin infiltrated the palace and used polymorphine to distend her jaw so that she could swallow the infant prince and smuggle him out of the palace inside her own body. The Imperial authorities were then able to use the prince as a hostage to ensure the Governor's compliance.
  • Transformation Trinket: Callidus Assassins use a drug known as polymorphine to achieve their Voluntary Shapeshifting. When properly trained, polymorphine allows the operative to alter her body to assume the appearance of any human and most humanoid aliens. Transformation into more monstrous xenos and mutants is possible by combining Polymorphine with biogenetically created implants surgically inserted into the Assassin's body that react with the drug to create specific forms.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Polymorphine not only allows a Callidus to change into members of other species, it can allow them to distort their bodies to, among other things, fit through spaces that a normal human would never be able to get through.

Tropes for the Eversor Assassin:

Fear me, for I am your apocalypse.
— Dictatus Eversor

Where other Assassins typically eliminate their targets with stealth and cold precision, the operatives of the Eversor Temple are berserk killers who are unleashed to eliminate enemy leaders, and everything else in the immediate area, in the most gruesome way imaginable. Intended to spread maximum terror amongst entire enemy forces, Eversor Assassins are the purest killers and the bloodiest weapon available to the Officio Assassinorum.

  • The Berserker: Eversors are pumped so full of performance-enhancing combat drugs that their bodies explode if the drug flow stops. Because these drugs enhance lethal aggression and cannot be shut off without killing the addicted Assassin, putting them into cryo-stasis is necessary to keep them alive between deployments.
  • Human Popsicle: Due to their near uncontrollable nature, Eversor Assassins are kept in cryo-suspension between missions. Mission briefings and technical information are fed to the Assassin through a neuro-link while they are still in suspended animation and they are only awoken once their drop pod is already on route to a planet's surface.
  • Meaningful Name: The Eversor Temple specialises in the total destruction of the target while leaving a bloody trail of bodies in their wake. The name of the Temple reflects this, roughly translating to "Destroyer" or "one who destroys or overthrows" in Latin.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: The executioner pistols wielded by members of the Eversor Temple are specialist combi-weapons consisting of a bolt pistol and a needle pistol. These weapons are able to unleash a hail of mass-reactive bolts before quickly switching to firing highly toxic darts that can kill with the merest scratch.
  • One-Man Army: Eversors are intended to be this, smashing into and slaughtering entire buildings, mansions, and bases of enemy troops. They can come close to matching a Space Marine in direct combat, and a group of them nearly annihilated a Space Marine strike force during the attempted coup known as the Beheading, where the master of the Officio Assassinorum tried to take over the Imperium by killing the other High Lords.
  • Skull for a Head: To enhance the terror caused by their barbaric assaults, the helmet of an Eversor Assassin is fashioned into the likeness of a skull.
  • Taking You with Me: Eversor Assassins, along with their dangerously unstable cocktail of chemical enhancements, have two-part explosive chemicals in their body. As long as their heart keeps circulating blood, the two parts will not come into contact, but once the Eversor is killed the blood stops circulating and the chemicals join, causing the Assassin to explode and ensure that their target is killed even if the Eversor only survives long enough to get near the target.
  • Weapon for Intimidation: To the extent an Assassin is a Living Weapon, Eversors are built for shock-and-awe attacks. No subtlety and minimal discretion means they simply tear through anything and anyone between them and their target in a manner that is as vicious as it is efficient, spreading the fear of Imperial retribution amongst enemy forces.
  • Wolverine Claws: The primary close combat weapon of the Eversor Assassin, the neuro-gauntlet, consists of an armoured glove with hyper-alloy blades and syringes built into its figures that inject lethal neurotoxins into the target.

Tropes for the Culexus Assassin:

That which is unknown and unseen commands the greatest fear.
— Dictatus Culexus

The Culexus Temple are the strangest and most esoteric of the major Assassin Temples due to the nature of their sinister operatives. The ranks of the Culexus Temple consist exclusively of those who possess the Pariah Gene, an extremely rare genetic mutation that renders the possessor soulless, their very presence an anathema to the powers of the warp. Through arcane equipment and training these Pariahs are turned into the perfect weapon to unleash against those psykers who threaten the Imperium, their unique abilities making them all but invisible to witch-sight and precognition, while their strange weapons able to reduce their target to nothing but a withered husk.

  • Anti-Magic: The specialty of the Culexus. In addition to them being able to mess with psykers just by being near them (due to being Blanks), the animus speculum weapon mounted on their helms draws power from nearby psykers to shoot bolts of anti-psychic energy that are especially lethal to psykers. In-game, they have a number of special rules that make them particularly adept at targeting psykers, such as the Abomination rule that gives the psyker penalties to their Psychic and Deny the Witch tests.
  • Cool Helmet: Culexus Assassins have virtually all their equipment mounted in their helmet. Said helmet is necessarily so over-sized to accommodate this that one speculates they get neck-reinforcing augmentations to wield it effectively.
  • Eye Beams: Culexus Assassins' primary weaponry are built into their skull-shaped helmets, with point of discharge being mounted over the eyes. Their looks can literally kill.
  • Our Souls Are Different: Culexus Assassins are horrifying creatures that seem to lack a soul, thanks to the Pariah gene. Ordinary people find them quite disturbing, but the Assassins are trained to prey on enemy psykers, who are especially sensitive to them. Their wargear fires what has been described as bolts of anti-soul.
  • Skull for a Head: The faceplate of the animus speculum helmet worn by the Culexus traditionally sports a skull-like face or mask.

    Sisters of Silence

Fools may call these women abominations, hags, and freaks. Only the wise know the Sisters as the bravest of all Humanity's saviours — they who battle Chaos itself.
Inquisitor D'Maros

A mysterious organisation of warrior-women, sometimes seen as part of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, the Sisters of Silence are one of the Imperium's greatest weapons against the threat posed by psykers. Founded and organised by the Emperor himself, the Silent Sisterhood is composed entirely of women who possess the Pariah gene, making them the bane of those who practice the psychic arts as their mere presence can dampen and dispel powerful psychic abilities. The Sisters of Silence took part in many of the greatest battles of the Horus Heresy, such as the assault on Prospero and the Siege of Terra, but in the aftermath of that tumultuous era many of the few surviving Sisters were left scattered and isolated. It wasn’t until the resurrection of Roboute Guilliman that the Sisters of Silence began to take a more active role in Imperial affairs once again, including aiding the Primarch in his fight against the Daemon Primarch Magnus the Red on Luna. After retaking his role as Lord Commander of the Imperium, Guilliman issued the Dispensatus Anathema that recalled the Null-Maidens to Terra, where they were organised into new Vigils and joined the Indomitus Crusade to assist with the relief of the Imperium following the opening of the Great rift. As the Indomitus Crusade advances across the war-torn Imperium isolated groups of Null-Maidens have been brought discovered and more Vigils so that they can continue to defend the Imperium against any and all psychic threats.

Like the Adeptus Custodes, the Sisters of Silence first received rules and models in the Horus Heresy: Burning of Prospero board game and in March 2017, they received an official mini codex in the 7th Edition Talons of the Emperor box set. The rules for the Sisters of Silence in 8th Edition were included in the Index: Imperium 2 book that was released in June 2017 before being updated in the Index Imperialis: Sisters of Silence article in the October 2019 issue of White Dwarf.

  • Amazon Brigade: The Silent Sisterhood are one of the oldest all-female organisations within the Imperium, with a history that stretches back for many millennia. As with much of their origin, the reason for them only recruiting female Blanks is unknown but there are rumours of entire secret bloodlines of Blanks that provide recruits for the Sisters of Silence.
  • Anti-Magic: The Sister of Silence are an organisation consisting entirely of Blanks, beings that have a negative warp presence. The mere presence of a Blank makes psykers acutely uncomfortable, even causing actual pain, and their psychic abilities are dampened or even shut down. All versions of the 8th Edition rules represent this with the Psychic Abomination ability that renders all Sisters of Silence immune to psychic powers and makes it more difficult for enemy psykers to manifest or deny powers.
  • BFS: Null-Maidens that fight as part of Vigilator Squads are armed with executioner greatblades, two-handed swords as long as the Sister wielding them is tall, that are capable of cleaving through flesh and armour with equal ease. This is represented in the 8th Edition rules by the greatblade boosting the Strength of the wielder and hiving high stats for both Armour Penetration and Damage.
  • Bling of War: The Null-Maidens of the Silent Sisterhood traditionally wear the highly ornate, golden Vratine power armour associated with the direct servants of the Emperor and many Vigils, such as the Vigil Indomitus, still wear armour of similar colouring. Those Vigils that have developed their own colour schemes continue to wear ornately crafted armour, however, often with trims and decorations in precious metals.
  • Elective Mute: When fully inducted into the Sisterhood, the new Null-Maiden must take a vow of silence called the Oath of Tranquillity, something visually reflected by their armour covering their faces below the eyes. Amongst themselves the Null-Maidens of the Silent Sisterhood communicate mainly through various forms of sign language.
  • Guns Akimbo: Some rare Prosecutor Squads have been known to exchange their boltguns from paired bolt pistols, particularly when fighting in close terrain where the higher number of shots that two pistols can unleash is more useful than the range of the bolter.
  • Hand Signals: The Sisters of Silence communicate between themselves with their own unique and complex sign language called Thoughtmark. There are a number of different forms of Thoughtmark, such as the simplified Battlemark, and most Null-Maidens also train in other forms of sign language, such as the battlefield signs used by various Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes.
  • Hero-Worshipper: The novel Dark Imperium mentions that, as with many within the Imperium, some Sisters revere the resurrected Primarch Roboute Guilliman as a living saint, something the Lord Commander of the Imperium finds uncomfortably shocking.
  • Hover Tank: As with the Adeptus Custodes, the Silent Sisterhood have access to technology unavailable to other branches of the Imperium and have been known to field grav-tanks such as anti-gravity versions of the Rhino Transport, as well as the rare and sinister Kharon Pattern Acquisitor.
  • Mage Killer: It is the role of the Sisters of Silence to hunt down and eliminate the greatest psychic threats that the Imperium faces. The Null-Maidens of the Silent Sisterhood are highly trained in the elimination of those who use Psychic Powers and are equipped with special anti-psyker weaponry. The 8th Edition rules represent this specialisation by giving every Sister of Silence psyk-out grenades (which have a chance of dealing mortal wounds against psykers and Daemons) and the Witch Hunters special rule (allowing them to re-roll wound rolls against psykers they are fighting). The rank and file Prosecutor Sisters are also able to ignore the usual targeting restrictions when firing at psychic characters.
  • Voice for the Voiceless: The background material mentions that members of the Silent Sisterhood have to communicate with outsiders they will often be accompanied by a Proloquor, a novice Sister who hasn't yet taken the Vow of Tranquillity, who will translate the Sisterhood’s unique sign language.

Alternative Title(s): Warhammer 40000 Imperial Factions


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