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Lords of the Machine

Toll the Great Bell Once!
Pull the Lever forward to engage the
Piston and Pump...

Toll the Great Bell Twice!
With push of Button fire the Engine
And spark Turbine into life...

Toll the Great Bell Thrice!
Sing Praise to the
God of All Machines!
Excerpt from the Catechism of the Autoculus of Mars
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In Warhammer 40,000, Mankind's golden age is long past, and many of its technological secrets have been lost. When the Emperor was reuniting humanity, he found on Mars a strange priesthood devoted to the preservation of what knowledge remained. This Mechanicum, later renamed the Adeptus Mechanicus, became a vital part of the Imperium, providing technical expertise, planet-wide factories known as Forge Worlds that produce everything from lasguns to civilian goods, and incredible weapons such as the Titan Legions. They are theoretically subordinate to the Imperium, and their highest-ranking member is one of the twelve High Lords of Terra, but the Machine Cult has its own specialized army, the Skitarii, and run the aforementioned Titan Legions, standing slightly apart from the Imperium of Man despite propping it up. Mars itself is not only the Mechanicus' capital, it's one of the most important Forge Worlds in the Imperium, and houses several Titan legions.

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The Adeptus Mechanicus are not just humanity's last source of technological knowledge; they actively worship machinery, and venerate the Emperor as an aspect of an entity they call the Omnissiah. They believe that all devices have a "machine spirit" that must be placated in order for them to function properly, and therefore the Machine Cult's maintenance rituals involve a lot of incense, sacred oils, and chanting. This is a bunch of ignorant superstition that should have no effect on how devices function...but nonetheless, it seems to help. They also hold that for humans to perfect themselves they must take on more aspects of the machine, and therefore undergo voluntary augmetic "upgrades," be they mechadendrites or other artificial limbs, or replacing the illogical half of their brain with a computer. Calling a Tech-Priest "more machine than man" is a compliment, and most Imperial citizens find the Priesthood of Mars hard to relate to, yet necessary.

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While gifted mechanics and craftsmen, Adeptus Mechanicus orthodoxy holds that all technological advances have already been discovered, and they therefore place more emphasis on reverse-engineering or recovering old knowledge than they do on experimentation or upgrades. Thus, the Mechanicus has kept mankind's technology working for ten thousand years, but has made little to no technological progress in that time. In fact, they have actually regressed, making some starships, weapons, and other devices irreplaceable because the Tech-Priests don't know how to build them any more. They are a parallel to medieval craftsman's guilds in the way they preserve skill but quash innovation with a monopoly on technology.

Although they made an appearance in the 1st and 2nd Editions of the Epic game system, the Adeptus Mechanicus had little official tabletop presence in the core Warhammer 40,000 game beyond specialists attached to other forces, such as the Tech-Priest Enginseers serving with the Astra Militarum and the Techmarines of the Adeptus Astartes. The Games Workshop subsidiary Forge World produced the first Adeptus Mechanicus miniatures for Warhammer 40,000 in the form of the god-machines of the Titan Legions and later begun producing a proper Adeptus Mechanicus army although, as a Forge World army-list, it wasn't generally considered tournament legal. In early 2015, Games Workshop produced the first official Adeptus Mechanicus rules and models, split into Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus sub-factions. September 2017 saw the release of Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus that includes the 8th Edition rules for the Cult Mechanicus, the Skitarii and the Knights of the Questoris Mechanicus. In March 2018 the campaign box set Forgebane included the Adeptus Mechanicus, and the Questoris Mechanicus, as the Imperial forces fighting against the Necrons.


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    Notable Adeptus Mechanicus tropes 
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Red Axe is a massive Omnissian axe whose cutting edged was made with a unique starmetal that emits a crimson glow. The Martian relic weapon is said to be able to cleave through even the toughest material, something the 8th Edition rules represent by giving The Red Axe the highest Armour Penetration value of any weapon available to an Adeptus Mechanicus army.
  • Admiring the Abomination:
    • Tech-Priests have a bad tendency in the fluff to get really worked up over Necron tombs, and will abandon all semblance of sense to poke and prod at what should, at best, be nuked from orbit. This almost always gets them in big trouble, and by extension anyone they're working with. The Ciaphas Cain short story "Echoes of the Tomb" reveals that this is precisely the reason he's short two fingers; the Tech-Priests he was with awakened Necrons who promptly butchered the Tech-Priests and almost killed Cain before he was able to escape, taking a glancing hit from a Gauss rifle on his hand.
    • How the rest of the Adeptus Mechanicus view the Xenarites of Stygies VIII, who actively study and acquire xenos tech and have made multiple incursions into the Webway to try to find the Black Library of the Aeldari.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: While most Tech-Priests will search for knowledge in the ruins of the past if they have the opportunity, the Tech-Priests known as Explorators make it their life's work. These independently minded Tech-Priests explore the dark fringes of the galaxy, searching for the lost knowledge of the Dark Age of Technology, archeotech and valuable STC data. Due to the dangers inherent in the regions that they operate, Explorators must be more than ready to defend themselves and will often travel in the company of an entire Adeptus Mechanicus Explorator Fleet or as part of the retinue of a Rogue Trader.
  • Age Without Youth: Tech-Priests can be very old indeed; they tend to prefer methods of their own to the juvenat treatments used by the Imperium at large. These methods preserve life without such niceties as removing the appearance of extreme age. Of course, a Tech-Priest of such seniority is unlikely to have any visible flesh left in any case.
  • Arm Cannon: Kastelan Robots outfitted for ranged combat have heavy phosphor blasters mounted on the end of their arms in place of their crushing Kastelan-pattern Power Fists.
  • Attack Reflector: Kastelan Robots are equipped with powerful energy shields known as repulsor fields that protect the automata by reflecting enemy attacks. In game terms there is a 1 in 6 chance of an attack aimed at the Kastelan to hit the unit that fired it.
  • An Axe to Grind: The traditional melee weapon and badge of office of the Adeptus Mechanicus is the power axe. Often taking the form of large halberd-like axes, the blades of these weapons typically sport a cog-like serrated edge in imitation of the Machina Opus, the holy symbol of the Omnissiah.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: A major cause of the Technological Stasis. To the Mechanicus at large, the Age of Technology was the absolute pinnacle of humanity's capacity for technological development, and nothing could possibly hope to improve on those machines, which is why they are so focused on finding and reverse-engineering STCs when they are found instead of coming up with new concepts. The other reason is, well... new, untested designs risk being corrupted by Chaos if they're not designed properly, which impedes research.
  • Bio-Augmentation: "Organicists" is the name given to a school of thought within the Mechanicus that gives the same value to organic life that they do to inorganic construction. They see an organic body as its own kind of machine, taking in fuel, producing waste, and generating action like any constructed device. Much like their fellows though, they are not content to exist unaugmented, and seek to improve their bodies to become closer to the Omnissiah. The difference is that they're much more willing to graft engineered organs and other biological components to themselves in addition to more "normal" mechanical enhancements.
  • Brain in a Jar: After the rebellion of the Iron Men, the ancient Human Federation decreed that Artificial Intelligence was Abominable Intelligence and forbidden from study. The Emperor maintained this stricture verbatim. To get around this, the Mechanicus created machine spirits and servitors, using the brains of dead individuals to serve as a CPU for more advanced hardware like Automatons, shipboard computers and pretty much anywhere where an actual CPU could be used. This is allowed because it still has the machine dependent on the Holy Human Form. It is strongly implied that the non-organic element of AI is primarily what makes it dangerous, and given that cascade failure is usually a staple of cybernetic revolt, this actually makes a lot of sense. Whether an AI that emerges unintentionally from the development of one or more systems is "abominable" or holy is yet another matter of internal division. It should be pointed out that there are Imperial war machines that are wholly sentient, however they cannot function without a consenting human pilot. Warmonger Artillery Titans are one example.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: By and large, they are good engineers despite everything. They do understand a significant fraction of their devices, and always strive to learn more—but this doesn't demystify anything, it simply brings them closer to union with the holy Omnissiah. Depending on the writer, sometimes these quirks are actually what helps them to become good engineers. The most famous example being that the prayers they chant are actually activation codes they memorized mnemonically, or a way for them to count how many seconds to wait before performing another action.
  • Cargo Cult: The Adeptus Mechanicus' worship of technology is completely literal, and they attend their machines with prayers as much as with tools.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Red is the ancient heraldic colour of Mars, the world on which the Adeptus Mechanicus originated, and the colour has become inexorably linked with the order and the worship of the Omnissiah. Due to this strong link, devotees of the Machine God serving in other branches of the Imperium, and all but the most independent of forge worlds, will include a shade of red somewhere in their colour scheme.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Human technology achieved full Clark's-Third levels during the Age of Technology, and most of that know-how has been lost to time since. Hence, the highest levels of technology for the Imperium are seen as magical by Imperial society, including the Tech-Priests themselves.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Members of the Adeptus Mechanicus that are relatively friendly tend to be...quirky at best.
  • Combat Tentacles: One of the more common enhancements used by Tech-Priests are mechadendrites, long and flexible bionic tendrils that are intended for delicate mechanical work but often see use as weapons in background material and Gaiden Games. While regular mechadendrites rarely have rules for use as weapons in the core Warhammer 40,000 game, specific mechadendrites, such as the special item of wargear known as Anzion's Pseudogenetor, will occasionally receive combat rules.
  • Companion Cube: Well, who hasn't resorted to pleading and begging when dealing with a computer at some point? The Adeptus Mechanicus are simply the (il)logical culmination of such desperation.
  • Construction Is Awesome: A central belief of the Cult Mechanicus. Every finished item that rolls off their assembly lines is a prayer made manifest; every factory is a temple; every building, no matter how big or how small, is a monument to the Machine God.
  • Corrupt Church: The Tech-Priests frequently apply For Science!, and their cult holds a great deal of power in the Imperium. Most do genuinely think of the progress such applications can do.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Subverted. As a Tech-Priest advances in the ranks, he usually replaces more and more of his "weak flesh" with augmetics, at the same time as his mind draws farther away from normal human concerns. Some undergo a procedure known as the Rite of Pure Thought that replaces half their brain with a computer, in order to approach the Omnissiah's perfect reason, something more moderate Tech-Priests consider somewhat extreme. It is not however the cybernetics that cause the loss of humanity however, instead it is caused by the Tech-Priests' existing deep-seated and extreme beliefs.
  • Decapitated Army: Downplayed with Kastelan Robots, which must be carefully programmed by specialised Tech-Priests known as Cybernetica Datasmiths with each new task, lest they simply continue ad infinitum with their existing orders. If you lose the datasmith, you can't change the protocols, which can cause the Kastelans to stand still and shoot, or to forget they have guns.
  • Deflector Shields: Almost all high ranking Tech-Priests incorporate some form of defensive shielding into their systems, most commonly a refractor shield designed to disperse attacks into multispectral bursts of harmless energy.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: When a Tech-Priest develops a new design, he is not using his corruptible human creativity, he is using divinely inspired reason to extrapolate it from existing devices and the inherent order in the universe.
  • Does Not Like Magic: The majority of Tech-Priests have an inherent mistrust, at best, of psykers and Psychic Powers in general due to their inherent illogical nature. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the Mechanicus specific Tactical Objective "A Victory for Logic" that grants the Adeptus Mechanicus player extra Victory Points for killing enemy psykers.
  • Elemental Barrier: Electro-Priests are surrounded by a voltagheist field that resembles will-o-the-wisps of electromagnetic force. This high voltage electric field protects the Priest by dispersing the energy of an attack in a puff of ozone and discharges as powerful electric shocks against the Priest's enemies. In the 8th Edition rules, the voltagheist field gives the Electro-Priest a 5+ invulnerable save and a chance of causing mortal wounds against his enemies.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: It is heavily implied that the Tech-Priests may be worshiping the C'Tan known as the Void Dragon, who is possibly imprisoned on Mars. The Emperor arranged things so their designs and beliefs were inspired by the Dragon without ever really focusing on it.
  • Enemy Scan: The Eye of Xi-Lexum, a techno-relic of Forge World Agripinaa, is an advanced servo-scull created from the remains of a highly talented Tech-Priest. The machine spirit of the Eye is able to analyse enemy vehicles during a battle, identifying their weaknesses with the same withering gaze that the Tech-Priest was renowned for in life. The 8th Edition rules for the Eye represent this by giving a re-roll to wound against nearby enemy vehicles.
  • Eternal Engine: Mechanicus standard for interior (and exterior) decor. Wall-to-wall gears and electronics, only broken by the odd devotional shrine. The longer-established Forge Worlds are nothing but.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Priesthood may be a cult of techno-worshiping fanatics with few scruples, but one Tech-Priest was horrified by their use of phosphorex weaponry and so he destroyed almost all the phosphorex weapons in existence, as well as the dataslates that held their design. As a result, the Mechanicus now has reverted to the less powerful phosphour weapons and the last remaining phosphorex gun has been relegated to being a rarely-used, sacred relic...but not before being used to burn that particular Tech-Priest at the stake.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • The Dark Mechanicum, which worships the Omnissiah as a form of Chaos Undivided and supplied arms and technical expertise to the Traitor Legions both before and after the Horus Heresy.
    • There have also been references to other Heretek groups who don't worship Chaos but have rejected being part of the Imperium, finding it too stifling.
  • Eye Scream: Electro-Priests do not see in the conventional sense. The channeling of sacred electric force boils the eyes in their sockets, or else melts them so they run, globular and bubbling, down the cheeks, a sacred phenomenon the order knows as the Omnissiah’s Tears.
  • For Science!: The Machine Cult will do anything to find an STC or understand an ancient device...except, usually, take it apart to reverse engineer it. This is partly because it would be heresy and offensive to the machine spirit, partly because they could not guarantee that they could put it back together, and partly because creativity unbound by exacting procedure opens up one's mind for daemons. Anything sufficiently old and awesome is normally subjected to endless tests of function and non-invasive scans, making Mechanicus reverse-engineering nearly as slow as their acceptance of new designs.
  • Genius Bruiser: Secutors are Tech-Priests dedicated to the art of war.
  • God Is Evil: It is heavily implied that the Omnissiah is not an aspect of the Emperor (not that he is necessarily "good" either mind) but in reality the ancient C'tan god known as the Void Dragon, meaning that they are unknowingly worshipping one of their most dangerous enemies.
  • Good Old Robot: The Kastelan robots not only look like rejects off of Forbidden Planet, they are an older technology that is far more acceptable than the A.I. 'Iron Men', as they are pre-A.I. and require a datasmith Tech-Priest to swap out their program cards in order for them to function effectively.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: "Binary", an audible but non-verbal form of communication used by Tech-Priests to communicate complex information to one another via implanted speakers and brain-interpreter augments. Its use is forbidden to all but those inducted into the mysteries of the Machine Cult, and those employing it use as a means of hiding what they wish to discuss from those outside their orders.
  • In the Hood: The standard outfit for priests of the Machine God is a hooded red robe. If a Tech-Priest expects to go into battle, they will usually don an armored suit, and trade their robe in for a hooded red cloak that allows them a bit more freedom of movement.
  • Hollow World: The forge world of Lucius is one of the Supernatura Majorius, a wonder of the Imperium. The world is hollow with its interior surface covered by massive factories powered by an artificial sun of mysterious origin that sits at the planet’s core.
  • Kill It with Fire: Tech-Priests can load up on phosphor and incendine weaponry to torch the enemy with. They can rival the Adepta Sororitas in how much flame they can bring on heretics to the Omnissiah.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: The only way to describe their behaviour when they find something resembling lost tech. Multiple branches of the Imperium wishes they would at least let them prepare first. Most Necron attacks are actually due to Tech-Priests getting a little too poke-happy around their tombs.
  • MacGuffin: The second-biggest prize for the Tech-Priests is a Standard Template Construct, one of many designs dating back from the Age of Technology that were made to be as adaptable and robust as possible, using technology long since lost to man. The biggest would be a Standard Template Constructor, an automated factory and technical library that can build or describe any of them. So far, all they have found are partial, damaged ones that can only create one or a few — and even these are worth more than whole star systems. Just one example: in First And Only, one of the characters describes the discovery of an STC fragment for making knives as a prize beyond reckoning, and every one in the group of Guard scouts that found it was given their own planet, or so the story went.
  • Machine Worship: The group that inspired the trope.
  • Mad Scientist: Some Tech-Priests rather lose their perspective in seeking ancient technology or pursuing the Omnissiah's thoughts in the workings of technology and the universe.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Though rare after the various Retcons over the course of First Edition, the Mechanicum still has the "Legio Cybernetica", squads of brainless-but-tough robots (or full-conversion servitors, Depending on the Writer) each commanded by a single Tech-Priest. In the Horus Heresy books, the better part of the Legio Cybernetica sided with the Traitor Legions.
  • Medieval Stasis: The Adeptus Mechanicus' beliefs have mostly ensured this for the Imperium. There is some innovation, but it occurs at a positively glacial pace. However, this may be changing due to the extreme danger the Imperium is in at the beginning of the 42nd millennium, as the Mechanicus seems to have at least partially unleashed the creativity of their priests, resulting in a flood of new technologies. This is actually canon for the Mechanicus on Ryza; they're up against hundreds of billions of Orks but are slowly taking the planet back because they're bringing new weapons into play. Also, the Mechanicus on Stygies VIII are obsessed with xeno-tech and are officially sanctioned by Holy Terra to collect, research and apply it. They've successfully breached several Webway portals, with the ultimate goal of entering the Black Library of the Eldar.
  • Moral Myopia: They consider technology from the Age of Technology to be the pinnacle of humanity's technological capability, but disdain more advanced xenos technology because it's made by aliens, although some Tech-Priests are implied to be jealous of that very technology. One example is how many members of the Adeptus Mechanicus seek to shed as much of their flesh as possible and become machines, yet many of them consider the Necrons, who accomplished this at the racial level, abominations (even without knowing that becoming Necrons was almost completely forced on the Necrontyr).
  • Neural Implanting: Some of the sacred implants of the Omnissiah are cogitator databases hooked directly into the brain (sometimes removing "useless" portions of the brain to make room) which contain information on how to build some of their most advanced technology. There is some speculation that this is what enables the Tech-Priests to build very complex technology without actually understanding the principles on which it works, the implants containing information on how to construct something without explaining the why of it. It is worth noting that this was absolutely true of all Tech-Priests in the early era of the game, where low-ranking members were directly implanted with the procedures they needed. New editions have since Retconed this sort of implant to be restricted mostly to high-ranking Tech-Priests, actually authorised to design and research, for whom it is no substitute but rather an extra advantage. The more novice Tech-Priests must build their technology through rote memorization taught to them by their superiors, with all the religious pomp and circumstance their construction is known for. The knowledge-bearing sacred implants are only gifted once a Tech-Priest has been properly indoctrinated against potential misuse of the Omnissiah's secrets.
  • New Technology Is Evil: ... because everything worth discovering was discovered thousands of years ago, or has always existed logically implicit in the universe, to be discovered by inspired reason rather than be invented by merely human creativity, more along the lines of New Technology Is Impossible. The possibility of uninhibited creativity leading to daemonic possession of machinery is also cited as a justification for this, although it's not that simple. However, there are arguments about this, with the Mechanicus being divided into camps fighting over whether to dedicate their resources to innovation or finding STCs. Also, recent Black Library books have the Mechanicus suddenly pouring out newly discovered and developed weapons and technology. Must have something to do with Hive Fleet Leviathan or the 13th Black Crusade rampaging through the galaxy at the end of the millennium.
    • It's revealed it's largely to do with the Archmagos Cawl having no respect for Mechanicus Dogma and the official support of Guilliman allowing him to send his new stuff out.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Mechanicus has legitimately lost lots of valuable STC data, but some writers have implied that they have more than they're letting on.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Many prayers of supplication to angry machine spirits involve a "ceremonial whack" at certain points in the ritual.
  • Planetary Romance: The latest incarnation of the Mechanicus army has a significant nod to Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. This is reflected in the long, fancy curls etched into archaic-looking radium rifles and pistols, which is a stark contrast to the gothic, heavy industrial look that the Mechanicus usually sported before.
  • Plasma Cannon: The forge world of Ryza is renowned as one of the greatest producers of plasma weaponry in the Imperium. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the unique Plasma Specialists Stratagem that can enhance the power of plasma weapons used by Adeptus Mechanicus units with the Ryza Keyword.
  • Power Floats: Some Tech-Priests install small grav generators in their cyber-mantle, and learn to use them to levitate. As a Tech-Priest goes up in rank and experience, some might eschew any other form of motion as the grav units allow them freedom to move despite their now quite awkwardly shaped enhanced bodies.
  • Power Glows: The ancient power axe Petre Cog-Toothnote , is said to be the first and most powerful Omnissian power axe ever created and its blade glows with an aura of power. Some less devout minds claim this glow could actually be due to extreme radiation saturation.
  • Psycho Electro: The Electro-Priests, whether Shock and Awe-discharging Corpuscarii or Life Energy-leeching Fulgurite, whip themselves up into a frenzy of religious ecstasy in battle, wielding their powers with wild and lethal abandon. This is in contrast to the more cold, deliberately mechanical attitude most Tech-Priests affect.
  • Recursive Ammo: Ordinatus Golgotha, from the 2nd Edition of the Epic game system, is armed with six enormous Hellfire Missiles, each of which is fitted with multiple warheads that separate before impact so that the war machine can devastate a large section of the battlefield with a single shot.
  • Religion Is Magic: In full force here, going along with the "magic" in question being indistinguishable from sufficiently advanced technology. The devotees of the Machine God even consider the theoretical principles on which their technology is based to be a form of theology.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The Galvanic Rifle, and the Radium, Phosphor, and Arc weapons are all revolvers firing exceedingly Abnormal Ammo, and they're all better than basic autoguns or lasguns.
  • Right Hand vs. Left Hand: If you think academic politics are bad now, just wait a few millennia and it will get worse. The Mechanicus rivals the Inquisition for in-fighting and scheming, for various reasons—whether or not the Emperor and the Omnissiah are actually separate entities, the "invention is evil" versus "invention is discovery" positions above, various more abstruse disputes, and simple struggles over prestige and promotion.
  • Robo Speak:
    • This is generally true of servitors and other communicative Wetware CPU devices created by the Adeptus Mechanicus.
    • Tech-Priests can approach this after heavy augmentation eventually replaces their voice box and much of their brain, but they are still human (in a manner of speaking) beneath it all, and as such they tend to fall into Spock Speak with a Creepy Monotone.
  • Shock and Awe: The Electro-Priests consist of two sects that work in opposite fashions, representing opposite sides of a dogmatic schism. The Fulgurite sect are deeply offended by the enemies of mankind having any electricity at all, especially the kind generated just by living, and suck it out of them with their Electroleech Staves. On the other hand, the priests of the Corpuscarii sect are living capacitors that use electrostatic gauntlets to create massive electrical discharges to fry enemies.
  • Stealth Expert: Due to the proscribed nature of their main field of study, the Tech-Priests of Stygies VIII have developed numerous technologies and tactical doctrines to assist them in concealing their activities from their fellows. In-game, the 8th Edition rules have the 'Clandestine Infiltration' Stygies VIII Stratagem, that represents the use of such stealth fields and auspex scramblers to deploy troops anywhere on the battlefield.
  • Surveillance Drone: Scryerskull pattern servo-skulls are macabre devices packed with sensors and analytical equipment that the Tech-Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus use to investigate and reconnoitre the battlefield. In the 7th Edition of the game these servo-skulls are standard equipment for Tech-Priests that allows them to investigate objective markers, while 8th Edition makes them a Stratagem with the same effect, in addition to allowing the player to ignore some penalties caused by scenario special rules.
  • Taking You with Me: With the correct prayers a Tech-Priest is able to encourage a seriously damaged machine spirit to enact a measure of revenge against their tormentors. The 8th Edition of the game represents this with the Machine Spirit’s Revenge Stratagem that causes an Adeptus Mechanicus vehicle to automatically explode when it is destroyed.
  • Techno Babble: Tech-Priests tend to do this a lot; it's referred to as "techna-lingua" within the universe.
  • Technopath: They only think they are, but sometimes it becomes true. With enough chanting, they can make Percussive Maintenance or an insane bodge job work when there's no way in hell it should, and some Tech-Priests are masters of "intuitive maintenance", diagnosing malfunctions by sound and touch and comforting the machine-spirit with nearly imperceptible adjustments.
  • Techno Wizard: With emphasis on "Techno." And "Wizard" too.
  • Teleportation: The forge world Lucius has access to some of the most advanced teleportarium in the Imperium. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the unique Lucian Stratagem that allows a unit with the Lucius Keyword to teleport onto the battlefield during the game rather than having to be deployed from the start.
  • Time Master: The Uncreator Gauntlet utilises reverse-engineered xenos technology to reverse the chronology of any machine it touches, reverting them into piles of component parts. The 8th Edition of the game represents this by causing addition mortal wounds to any vehicle damaged by the Gauntlet.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Electro-Priests stride bare-chested into battle.
  • Warrior Monk: Secutors are Tech-Priests who focus on the destructive potential of the Machine God, manufacturing and wielding some of the most potent of the Mechanicus' weaponry, and further augmenting themselves to enhance their combat abilities, becoming vessels for the Omnissiah's wrath.
  • Weirdness Coupon:
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus disdain the holy human body, altering it both cybernetically and biologically at will. They belong to the Imperial Faith only on the slimmest of technicalities, and some make an open secret that they don't even make that effort, preferring to see the Omnissiah as a separate and older divinity than the Emperor. Most suspiciously of all, they pursue knowledge on secretive quests under a regime that adores blind faith and unthinking loyalty. Yet, while some members run foul of the Inquisition, Ecclesiarchy, or Administratum in ways that range from embarrassing to deadly, by and large they are left alone as powerful if not respected members of the Imperial order. De facto, they are simply necessary no matter how evil a zealot may think they are. De jure, they are only joined to the Imperium of Mankind by a personal union, sworn to the Emperor's service separately from the Adeptus Terra that run everything else, and subject to it only on secondment.
    • Within the Mechanicus, eccentricities tend to increase with rank, although human failings like drug use and family attachments are surefire ways not to achieve higher ranks. Beyond this, a Tech-Priest of sufficient status and connections is unlikely to be convicted of tech-heresy for anything done while developing anything sufficiently useful, and may well be cleared of an existing conviction that sent him fleeing to work in the far corners of the galaxy.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: The Schizo Tech resulting from all this lost technology leads to ships with warp engines and force fields requiring slave labor to manually reload cannons the size of office buildings.

Forces of the Cult Mechanicus:

    Servitors 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/battleservitors.png
A Kataphron Battle Servitor

As a direct result of mankind’s near extinction after the revolt of the Iron Men, the Imperium has a not entirely unreasonable blanket ban on advanced robotics and artificial intelligences. This is something of a problem, however, since advanced computing systems and tireless, easily-commanded laborers are extremely useful things. To get around this problem, the Adeptus Mechanicus creates Servitors, mindless human-based cyborgs heavily enhanced with technology (with that pesky free will issue removed in the process) that are used for a variety of purposes, from menial labor to warfare to serving as the organic cores of complex computers.

While most Servitors are created from vat-grown bodies, some are made from criminals sentenced to "Servitude Imperpituis".


  • Arm Cannon: Servitors equipped for ranged combat, such as Gun Servitors and Kataphron Battle Servitors, have one or more of their upper limbs replaced with heavy weapons such as multi-meltas, heavy bolters or plasma weaponry.
  • Artificial Human: Most servitors are purpose-cloned for their role, being grown in vats without functioning higher brain structures to be made into cyborgs after decanting.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Their free will, personality and humanity have been completely erased by their implants, leaving them as nothing more than mindless servants.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: While most cases of Servitude Imperpituis are sentenced as punishment for horrible crimes or heresy, some Space Marine chapters create their Servitors from failed Initiates.
  • Elite Mook: Praetorian Servitors and Kataphron Battle Servitors are massive, armoured and heavily armed servitors, bigger than Space Marines and often made from Ogryns and given treads or spider-like legs to support their immense weight. Praetorians generally guard Tech-Priests or holy sites, while Kataphrons are meant for more active combat roles.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: Servitors are often more mechanical than biological, and have their free will and personalities completely overwritten by their programming. They usually start out as mindless, vat-grown bodies, but criminals and heretics are often turned into Servitors as a punishment.
  • Lightning Gun: The heavy arc rifle is the default armament of the Katphron Breacher class of battle servitor. One of the larger types of arc weaponry utilized by the Adeptus Mechanicus, the heavy arc rifle unleashes triple-helical streams of electrical energy that are particularly effective at damaging vehicles as they short out the target’s circuitry and destroy its animating spirit.
  • Spider Limbs: The heavily armed and armoured Praetorian Servitors and Kataphron Battle Servitors tend towards this trope, when augmented with jointed mechanical legs.
  • Tractor Beam: The tension cannons mounted on some Kataphron Breacher battle servitors capture an enemy with a trio of tractor beams known as gaol-fields that then rotate in different directions to tear the target apart.
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: While most Servitors are made from vat-grown, brain-dead bodies, many are made from criminals and heretics. Kataphron battle servitors in particular are almost exclusively created from such unfortunates as experience has shown that artificial organic components will not bond properly with a Kataphron’s augmetics.
  • Wetware CPU: A servitor's brain is directly modified with invasive augmetics called "bio-programming" to get around the Imperium’s ban on advanced computers or robotics. In extreme cases, servitors are wired into networks directly, forming the organic core of a computer system.

    Skitarii 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/skitarii.png
L, R: A Skitarii Ranger and a Skitarii Vanguard.

The Skitarii, also called the Tech-Guard, form the primary military branch of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Sworn to specific Forge Worlds, they are generally equivalent to the Imperial Guard or the PDFs, but are much better armed than either, and usually act independently of other Imperial forces, as is standard for the Mechanicum.


  • Abnormal Ammo: The Skitarii models released so far definitely tend toward this.
    • The Plasma Caliver is the most "normal" weapon their infantry have. Their standard-issue rifles? The Galvanic Rifle and the Radium Carbine.
    • Their special weapons, aside from the aforementioned Plasma Caliver? The Arc Rifle, which shoots even-more-electrically-charged bullets than the Galvanic Rifle and can EMP a tank to death with a few shots, and the Transuranic Arquebus, a huge anti-materiel rifle firing what are essentially depleted uranium bullets (but made from even heavier and less stable elements further down the periodic table).
    • For their leaders, they've got pistol versions of the Radium Carbine and Arc Rifle, and the Phosphor Blast Pistol, which removes the ability to gain a save boost from cover, due to the light coming off the glowing corpses of its targets.
  • Anti-Air: One of the weapon options for the Onager Dunecrawler is the Icarus Array. This weapon pod is designed to bring down aircraft by putting out a massive amount of firepower and consists of missile launchers, grenade launchers and autocannons, all optimised with the appropriate special rules for targeting flying enemy units depending on the edition.
  • Armored Coffins: Crewing an Onager Dunecrawler is almost universally fatal, if only because the fusion reactor turns the inside into a radioactive slow cooker. Once the old pilot expires, a new pilot is dunked into the filthy electro-amniotic tank that serves as the cockpit. The background text for the Onager explicitly compares its crewmen to batteries — eventually, they will be used up, discarded, and replaced...but such is life for a Skitarius.
  • Artificial Limbs: A standard trope for the Machine Cult, but most Skitarii have their legs replaced from the knees down as a standard augmentation as a response to the harsh terrains of most Forge Worlds.
  • Brown Note: Sicarian Infiltrators emit a barrage of precisely calibrated white noise that overwhelms the senses of man and machine alike, causing ears to bleed and eyes to water uncontrollably and leaving the enemy nearly helpless against the Infiltrator’s assault. Both the 7th and 8th Edition versions of the rules represent this by causing nearby enemy to take a penalty to their statsnote .
  • Chicken Walker: The strange bipedal Ironstrider engines, ridden by both the Sydonian Dragoons and Ironstrider Ballistarii, sport the chicken-legged, reverse-joint two-limb configuration of this trope.
  • Deflector Shields: Onager Dunecrawlers are equipped with Emanatus force fields, sophisticated defence shields designed to overlap with each other for increased protection. In the 8th Edition of the game this is represented by the Dunecrawler receiving an invulnerable save that increases in effectiveness if it is in close proximity to other Dunecrawlers.
  • Dual Wielding: The Sicarian Ruststalker cyborg assassins forgo ranged weapons, always wielding a pair of deadly transonic weapons. Their standard armament is a chordclaw and the knifelike transonic razor but they can upgrade these to a pair of transonic blades, longswords that, in both 7th and 8th Edition, allow the Ruststalkers to hit harder in combat.
  • Frontline General: The 7th edition version of the Skitarii is one of the few aversions of this trope in the game by having no HQ units and no characters. This is due to Skitarii being directed by Tech-Priests who send orders remotely from orbit.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Being totally disposable Cannon Fodder, Skitarii are not given much in the way of radiation shielding. Vanguards are noted for wearing leaky nuclear reactors on their backs and firing radium bullets at enemies. One Skitarii-specific artifact, the Pater Radium, is a rad-pack that is noted to cause rapid degradation of hair, teeth, and bones. It's often awarded to Skitarii commanders who show initiative and creativity in battle, which sounds odd... until you realize the Adeptus Mechanicus hate initiative and creativity.
  • Implacable Man: Skitarii don't have transport vehicles. They're often given a destination several months in advance and just start walking. They march through bogs, deserts, and all sorts of hostile environments, arriving right on schedule as the fighting starts.
  • Lightning Gun: The Skitarii make great use of rare and powerful arc weaponry in battle. Powered by ancient batteries, some of which predate the founding of the Imperium, these arcane weapons fire bolts of electrical energy that are able to fry an organic target's brain or destroy a vehicle’s controlling circuitry in an instant.
  • Martyrdom Culture: In the name of the Omnissiah, Skitarii will gladly wield equipment that kills them as fast as it kills the enemy. This ranges from censers that spew toxic gas to Radium weaponry. Even a slow death in the radioactive interior of an Onager is a fate to be envied.
  • Mini-Mecha: Ironstrider engines are light walkers that stand roughly twice the height of a human and were originally invented in an attempt to create a perpetual motion machine. Fast, agile and able to traverse rough terrain, the Skitarii use these strange machines as a form of mechanised cavalry.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Although they don't receive rules within the game itself, the most cybernetically enhanced of the Skitarii, who are known as Alpha Primus, are placed in charge of Skitarii cohorts by their Tech-Priest masters. These tactically astute overseers are highly dedicated and reliable commanders, able to operate independently of a Tech-Priest's supervision for many years. Some older background material also mentions other ranks of Skitarii such as Skitarii Tribunes, entrusted with higher leadership roles; and Masters of Skitarii, who command entire brigades.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Ruststalker Princeps who lead squads of Sicarian Ruststalkers often have their combat abilities augmented with the addition of a third bionic arm so that they can wield a deadly chordclaw alongside a pair of transonic blades.
  • Sniper Rifle: The Skitarii make use of a number of highly accurate weaponry, such as the rapid fire radium jezzail and the extremely long ranged transonic arquebus, to target enemy champions and leaders. The 8th Edition rules represent this by allowing models with these weapons to ignore the usual restrictions for targeting characters.
  • Spider Tank: The Onager Dunecrawler, one of the primary armoured vehicles used by the Skitarii and a workhorse vehicle for the Adeptus Mechanicus as a whole, is propelled across the battlefield by four insectoid legs in imitation of the giant insects that its creator believed were used as beasts of burden on ancient Terra.
  • Vibroweapon: The transonic weapons carried by Sicarian Ruststalkers are able to adjust their resonance to match the molecular frequency of their target, allowing the deadly weapon to pass through armour as if it wasn’t there. Both the 7th and 8th Edition version of the rules represent this by giving transonic weapons a one in six chance to automatically wound and gain a boost to their armour penetration.
  • Walking Wasteland: Skitarii Vanguard are so soaked in radiation from their dangerous wargear and the hostile environments they operate in that to approach them unprotected is a death sentence. It is for this reason that Vanguard warriors are often known colloquially as rad-troopers. Both the 7th and 8th Editions of the game represent this by giving nearby enemy units a penalty to their Toughness due to radiation poisoning.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: A maimed Skitarii, if judged worthy and retaining a head, torso, and some measure of limb stumps, can be rebuilt into a Sicarian, a cybernetic creature so heavily augmented that there’s very little human left under the machine.

    The Titan Legions 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_warlordtitan.png
A Mars pattern Warlord titan.

The Ground trembled every other heart beat ... the sound echoed louder with each beat, and haunted your soul as if doom was approaching ... and then I saw it towering in the sky, still miles away. The fear and awe one felt was indescribable. I can only image the sheer terror our enemy felt when they beheld the sight of the Emperor Titan.
— excerpt from the memoirs of Precept Catotus, Griffins Titan Legion

The colossal god-machines of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Titans are enormous, towering over any foe, and extremely powerful, unmatched by anything except another Titan. Directed by a Princeps whose mind is linked directly into the machine’s workings, a Titan boasts incredible destructive power, although its greatest weapon is perhaps the terror it instills in its enemies.

Titans are operated and maintained by a sub-faction of the Mechanicus that is officially known as the Adeptus Mechanicus Collegia Titanica, but is more commonly known simply as the Collegia Titanica or the Adeptus Titanicus. The Titan Legions themselves are the military arm of the Collegia Titanica, collectively known as the Divisio Militaris, with at least one Legion based on each Forge World.

Imperial Titans generally come in three main types of increasing size and firepower: Scout Titans, such as the fast and agile Warhound; Battle Titans, such as the multi-role Reaver, the fire-support Warbringer and the workhorse Warlord; and the Emperor Class, such as the long ranged Warmonger and the mighty Imperator.

Due to their size, the god-machines of the Titan Legions were mostly consigned to the background material, and the 6mm-scale Epic game systems such as Adeptus Titanicus, Space Marine and Epic 40,000. Advances in casting technology eventually made Warhammer 40,000 scale models more viable and Games Workshop’s Forge World department produce a range of Titans. The 8th Edition rules for using Imperial Titans in Warhammer 40,000 can be found in the Imperial Armour – Index: Forces of the Astra Militarum book. Adeptus Titanicus: Horus Heresy, an updated small-scale Gaiden Game similar to Epic, that focuses on Titan vs. Titan combat was released in August 2018.

NOTE: Imperial Knights are technically a type of Titan but are not covered here due to their unique origins and fluff, which is very different from the regular Titans. For tropes relating to them, see Current Imperial Factions.


  • Abnormal Ammo: Quake cannons fire shells imbued with the death cries of planets shattered by Exterminatus. Some Emperor Titans carry ballistic missiles that open Hell Gates where they hit. The one known Castigator Titan had a cannon that fired daemons, although that was likely due to its Chaos corruption.
  • Anti-Air: Imperator-class Emperor Titans are equipped with Defence Lasers, massive laser weapons generally fixed to static defensive positions and used to engage ships in low orbit. The Defence Lasers mounted on Imperator Titans have sophisticated auto-trackers that allow the god-machine to use these weapons to target enemy aircraft.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: On those occasions when an Emperor Titan, the rarest and most powerful type of Titan by a very wide margin, is part of a Titan Legion, its Princeps is invariably the one in charge.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Only the most skilled and battle-hardened Princepses are allowed to pilot the enormous, ludicrously powerful Emperor Titans, due to the incredible force of will needed to rein in these Titans' machine-spirits.
  • BFG: Needless to say, Titans mount absolutely enormous guns, although the Hellstorm Cannon (which can strip a lesser Titan of its shields with one volley), the Volcano Cannon (which can melt stone and one-shot a lesser Titan), the Quake Cannon (which fires shells imbued with the death-cries of shattered planets), and the Plasma Annhilator (which can kill cities) take the cake.
  • BFS: Some Titans mount absolutely enormous Chainswords, specifically for combat against each other.
  • Blade on a Stick: Secutarii Hoplites are armed with arc lances, which are spears that happen to shoot electricity.
  • Chainsaw Good: Titans outfitted for close combat are often equipped with Titan-class chainfists. While the exact style of chainfist varies, all consist of a powerful, motorised saw blade that can rip apart enemy Titans and gargantuan creatures. The rules for Titan chainfists vary with gaming system and edition but all are capable of inflicting massive damage against an opponent with a successful hit.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Titans are incredibly powerful, but they are made for a very specific type of warfare, being engaging massive static installations and especially other large mobile war engines. Outside that role, their tactical applicability is rather limited. For this reason they are almost always either supported by Skitarii or deployed to support other Imperial forces so that by combined arms they compliment each other's role.
  • Epic Flail: During the early editions of the Epic game system, Battle Titans equipped for siege warfare would often be fitted with Wreckers. The Titan primarily used these massive wrecking balls to demolish enemy-held buildings and fortifications, but it was equally effective when used to crush opposition units, automatically destroying one in each round of combat.
  • Explosive Overclocking: Titans are powered by advanced but capricious plasma reactors. While relatively safe under normal conditions, during battle a Princeps can draw more power from the reactor to increase their god-machine's combat abilities but this can damage, or even destroy, the delicate systems of the reactor. In the Adeptus Titanicus: Horus Heresy Gaiden Game, this is represented by players being able to draw extra power from their plasma reactors to increase their speed, manoeuvrability, firepower and/or defences. Doing so however risks dangerous overheating the reactor and giving it a chance of doing extra damage to the Titan or, in extreme circumstances, causing a full blown reactor meltdown.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: Titan inferno guns note , are some of the largest flamethrowers used by the forces of the Imperium. These massive flamers are fitted to Warhound and Reaver Titans operating in dense terrain, such as the urban sprawls of hive cities, where they can devastate entire formations of enemy infantry.
  • First Church of Mecha: Titans are built as walking idols to the Machine God's wrath and are often colloquially known as god-machines. Each Titan is considered a holy relic and is treated with the veneration that a more typical Imperial citizen would reserve for a living saint. Some background material also indicates that some of the more primitive populations that witness the mighty war machines in battle will take to worshiping the Titans themselves as gods and/or a physical incarnations of the God-Emperor.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon:
    • Early editions of the Epic game system included the Deathstrike Cannon as a weapon option for Warlord Titans. This massive artillery weapon is one of the most powerful weapons available to a Titan and replaces the god-machine’s head with the centreline weapon mount that can only fire at targets directly in front of it.
    • The carapace weapon mounts of the Lucius pattern Warlord Titan are limited to a forward facing position. This isn’t much of a disadvantage for the Warlord as the highly warlike nature of the war machine means that it will always be found advancing straight at the enemy.
  • Handicapped Badass: A Titan's Mind Impulse Unit requires the Princeps' nervous system to undergo extensive augmetic modification for the interface, which sometimes leaves him unable to physically function outside of his Titan without life support mechanisms. For example, in Graham McNeill's Forges Of Mars trilogy, the Princeps of the Warlord Titan Lupa Capitialana is blind, limbless, has a distended skull, and has to live in a fluid-filled tank.
  • Humongous Mecha: Ranging in size from the relatively modest Warhound-class titans at 14 meters or so to the colossal Emperor-class titans, which are essentially fortified cathedrals on legs, at least 100 or so meters tall (accounts contradict each other; some older fluff claims their height goes all the way up to 2 km). A few models, such as the Castigator-class from the Dark Age of Technology, were much bigger and much more powerful.
  • Laser Cutter:
    • The Laser Burner from early editions of the Epic scale game system consisted of a high-powered, but extremely short-ranged, laser projector that would cause metal to vaporise and electrical systems to burn out. Designed to be used against enemy Titans, Laser Burners caused serious damage to a number of locations as it was drawn across the enemy's hull.
    • The Saturnyne lascutter is a powerful weapon that can be fitted to Warlord Titans in the 8th Edition of Warhammer 40,000 for use against enemy buildings and warmachines. The lascutter unleashes a focussed blast at close range that does an increasing amount of damage, the longer it is focused on a target.
  • Long-Range Fighter: The Warbringer Nemesis Titan is a dedicated Titan hunter designed to destroy its prey with massive ranged firepower. The Nemesis is equipped with multiple, high yield ranged weapons, including the massive Nemesis quake cannon, that can obliterate even the most powerful of foes at extreme range.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: Downplayed. Titans aren't truly alive, but their machine spirits are so powerful that they border on sentience and even under the Princeps' control, they tend to behave like living things, expressing simple emotions such as rage, defiance, belligerence, sorrow, and victory.
  • Military Mashup Machine: Titans are Humongous Mecha Land Battleship Walking Cathedral Idols to the Machine God.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Weaponized with Vortex Missiles, relics from the Dark Age of Technology whose warheads open Warp portals upon detonation, sucking anything in the general vicinity into the realm of Chaos. They are generally used against fortifications that the Imperium just needs gone, and only as a last resort, since once opened, there's no real way of closing the Warp gate, controlling it, or stopping Daemons from pouring out.
  • Plasma Cannon: The Plasma Annihilators and Plasma Destructors carried by Emperor Titans, and the smaller Melta Cannons and Plasma Blastguns.
  • Power Fist: Some Titans carry Power Fists, scaled to match. They also have Titan-class Power Claws for crushing attacks, and Chainfists that combine this trope with Chainsaw Good.
  • Psychic Powers: The Warlord-Sinister class Psi-Titan is an ancient extremely rare variant of the Warlord Titan equipped with psychic weaponry and is able to manifest powerful psychic abilities. Crewed by enslaved psykers and piloted by a Blank, Psi-Titans are only deployed against the most deadly foes such as the forces of Chaos.
  • Siege Engines: Early editions of the Epic game system had the Corvus Assault Pod. A specially designed arm mount, the Corvus allowed a Warlord Titan to transport a detachment of Space Marine Terminators and deploy them directly into the upper floors of enemy-held buildings and defensive walls, turning the Titan into a massive, walking siege tower.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: Void Shields, the Titans’ main line of defense, generally invisible as anything beyond a faint haze until hit.
  • Target Spotter: In early editions of the Epic game system, Battle Titans could purchase a Carapace Landing Pad that came with a recon Land Speeder. This Land Speeder ranged ahead of its Titan partner, relaying targeting information that allowed the God-Machine to fire at targets of its line-of-sight with far greater accuracy.
  • Teleportation: The Titans of the Legio Astorum, also known as the Warp Runners, are highly advanced and are the only god-machines in the Imperium capable of surviving the rigors of teleportation, allowing the Legion to use the superior teleportarium of their home forge world of Lucius to deploy directly into battle.
  • Two Beings, One Body: The princeps, along with two or more moderatii (operators who control subsystems such as weapons), physically links himself with the Titan's systems, and he and the Titan operate as one. Since the princeps interacts directly with the Titan's very powerful machine spirit, he must have extremely strong willpower in order to maintain control and his sanity.

     Devoted Followers of the Omnissiah 

Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tech_dude_7.jpg

The Omnissiah filled the Galaxy with mysteries so that we might learn from them, coming step by step closer to his perfect being. To ignore them, even in the face of war, is heresy.

A Magos Dominus (a Tech-Priest in charge of leading the forces of the Mechanicus on the field of battle), Cawl is a rather large Archmagos that went out to Cadia during a massive assault spearheaded by the Black Legion, a mighty man known to always bring his Skitarii and Electro-Priests wherever he goes.


  • An Axe to Grind: As is traditional with the Adeptus Mechanicus, Cawl wields a massive power axe.
  • The Cracker: Is said to have the ability to hack into his opponents' machines with data-shunts to impede their functions.
  • Combat Tentacles: Cawl's cybernetic body is covered with an entire of hive of mechadendrite tentacles that the Archmagos Dominus uses to engulf and disassemble his foes. The 7th and 8th Edition versions of Crawl's rules represent this by giving him additional attacks.
  • Enemy Mine: Is willing to work with xeno races, if the threat is dire enough. Gathering Storm shows that the 13th Black Crusade is a dire enough situation. Working with the Eldar, Cawl is able to make a suit to function as a mobile life-support system for Roboute Guilliman.
  • Exact Words: He tells the other members of the crusade that he made a deal with the "Lord of Ultramar", when they arrive in the sector and Calgar doesn't recognize him, they immediately begin to suspect him as a traitor. But he just responds by saying he demands to see the Lord of Ultramar, in other words, he wanted to see Roboute Guilliman.
  • The Fog of Ages: He has been alive for so long that, mechanically enhanced or not, his memories have withered away over time. It takes the prodding of some outside sources to get him to remember promises he made 10,000 years back. It's not entirely clear if those memories are real or not; even he finds the lack of detail odd.
    • It's even worse than that: in the 8th Edition Codex, it's mentioned that Cawl's memories have been wiped not only once, but twice, over the course of his long life, but even then he still knows more than the average Dominus.
  • Frontline General: While many other high ranking Tech-Priests prefer to direct their forces from fortified installations or orbiting ships, Cawl often oversees a battle personally, trusting his personal defences, powerful weapons, and a mind sharp enough to predict enemy attacks quickly enough to avoid them.
  • Large and in Charge: For a member of the Mechanicus, he is noted to be quite massive, especially when compared to the troops he leads. How massive? Official artwork shows him to be standing taller than a throne sized for the revived Roboute Guilliman, and on the tabletop a normal Magos Dominus is on a 50mm base. Cawl? He's using a 105x70mm oval base, which is the same sized base for a Tau XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit and base-wise is only slightly smaller than most large walkers or beasts.
  • Mad Scientist: The Mechanicus at large views Cawl as a borderline heretic due to his apparent lack of regard for its dogma. Among his more radical ideas, he admitted that human technology and its current understanding is lacking compared to other races, reverse-engineering xeno technology to get around that, and has even gone so far as to create what may actually be an Artificial Intelligence (a big no-no in the Imperium) based on his own personality and memories. He proposed to Guilliman the idea of creating new Primaris Marines using the gene-seed from the Traitor Legions and even the two Lost Legions, and while Guilliman balked at that notion and forbade from doing it, fearing the possible disastrous consequences, he suspects Cawl will try it anyway or may have already done it. A few Primaris Chapters already in service do have loyalist Primarchs listed as their genetic source but do not have anything in common with their alleged forebears, like the supposedly Dorn-descended Sons of the Phoenix.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: He has dabbled in many fields of science. He's improved on the Space Marine template, but has also worked on the weapons and armours Primaris Marines would use, has improved Guilliman's flagship, has maybe created artificial intelligence and copied his personality into a machine, and is working on Necron technology to reverse-engineer their pylons.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Cawl is introduced in the Gathering Storm campaign, where it's revealed he was sent on a secret mission by Roboute Guilliman that, due to Roboute being put into stasis, has taken 10,000 years to complete. Since then, he's been conspicuously inserted into Mechanicus lore prior to that timeframe, up to and including to being part of the biologis team the Emperor led in creating the Black Carapace implant.
    • Retconned partly in the Horus Heresy novels. Cawl was a young tech adept (a junior rank) during the later years of the Great Crusade and Heresy. He'd bounced around different forge worlds learning different disciplines before escaping Leman Russ's attack on Horus. Although he'd started experimenting at a young age, there was no evidence he'd ever been part of the Emperor's biologis team.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: This is a given considering the setting, but it is notable that Guilliman begrudingly makes use of his services because he is the only one crazy enough to do what he asks. Even back in the days of the Mechanicum, which were a bit more forgiving of what is now considered heresy, Cawl was apparently seen as having a few of his screws loose.
    Cawl Inferior: His colleagues are limited. Their beliefs have become a faith that they dare not challenge. The Adeptus Mechanicus is far more trammelled in its thinking than the Mechanicum of your time was, my Lord Guilliman, and the archmagos was a radical in those distant centuries. You would not have come to him if he were not.
  • Whip It Good: His arc-scourge is an electric variant that can strike several foes at once.


Thus do we invoke the Machine God.
Thus do we make whole that which was sundered.


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