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By the will of the Immortal God-Emperor, the great reliquary, or "page" as it is known, of tropes has grown to the point that it shall be broken up into four different pages. These pages are divided by the letter that starts the trope, and misplaced tropes shall be returned to their proper place. This page is for those tropes that start with the letter A through the letter D.

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Tropes A to D | Tropes E to H | Tropes I to P | Tropes Q to Z


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  • Absolute Xenophobe:
    • By the nature of the setting, just about anybody is this to anybody else, including splinter factions of their own species. Surprisingly, there are exceptions, such as Necrons willing to use diplomacy, Eldar who are willing to teach anybody who'd listen, even minor states aligned with Chaos who would accept alien Chaos worshipers into their midsts.
    • Humans, by official policy of the Imperium of Man, are not supposed to tolerate the existence of Xenos. This is possibly justified in that 9 times out of 10 any alien in the known universe will kill a human on sight, though this is in turn because humanity has a terrible reputation for exterminating any sentient aliens they can, with some exceptions like actual monsters who very much deserve to be wiped out like the Orks. On the other hand, it's not always strictly adhered to: being an absolute xenophobe eliminates any hope of alliance with the remaining 10%, which is why the policy of "Kill the Alien" gets tossed out when an Enemy Mine situation happens.
    • The only hard exception to this trope is the Tau Empire. To be fair, they seem to be running a successful society built around a coalition of species. On the other hand, the Tau are running an Orwellian society that makes it clear that they're staying the top (depending on who you listen to), they have practiced extermination on species that are incompatible with the Greater Good, and finally they can afford to be so optimistic with other species because they've encountered relatively little in the way of treacherous or particularly offensive species besides the Orks and Tyranids who in respective order lack the concept of peace being a rogue species of living weapons and lack any instinct other than hunger.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: While the basic close combat weapons of the more technologically advanced races would be some of the sharpest weapons in many settings, due to having monomolecular edges, such blades are no better than a basic iron bar in the game itself. The truly sharp weapons in the setting are the bladed power weapons that couple the monomolecular edge with a power field that disrupts the molecular bonds of the target to make it easier to cut. In-game such sharpness is represented by either a high modifier for armour saves or the ability to outright ignore regular armour saves depending on the edition.
  • Abnormal Ammo: Guns which fire razor-edged molecule-thick ninja stars, guns which fire nets of Razor Floss, guns which fire wooden stakes, flamethrowers which squirt holy napalm, biological guns which use, um, muscle spasms to fire flesh-eating beetles/maggots or exploding tumors, guns which open holes into hell, guns which fire tiny goblins through hell, grenades filled with tears collected from a thousand crying statues of the Emperor...
    • In addition to their regular boltgun ammo (which already consists of armor-piercing explosive Gyrojet rounds), Space Marines of the Deathwatch carry an entire armory's worth of abnormal ammo: rocket-propelled anti-armor rounds, rocket-propelled flaming airburst rounds, rocket-propelled vials of flesh-eating acid, and rocket-propelled miniaturized fusion bombs.
    • The Necrons' standard infantry weapon is a gun which disassembles the target on the molecular level layer by layer. They literally flay your skin, flesh, organs, then bones into their molecular components with bolts of green lightning.
    • Melta weapon don't shoot plasma as much as they are nuclear meltdowns with little shutters on them. Other writers have described them as basically firing a fusion reaction as a beam.
    • The gun that shoots goblins through hell is the Ork Shokk Attack Gun, which shoots narrow force fields to make a tunnel that protects anyone who's stupid enough to get into them before being sent to the target. Seeing how even Orkz and Grotz aren't stupid enough to get in the way, Mekboyz work with Runtherds to wrangle Snotlings in the way of the shots to sent through the Warp and driven insane before popping into whatever the Mekboy was shooting at, be that a Leman Russ tank, a Whirlwind mobile artillery, or some Imperial Guardsman who didn't get out of the way in time. The Snotling, driven insane, proceeded to thrash and claw at everything as it shits itself in madness. And this only happens if it works; the tunnel can implode, the tunnel can explode and leave a crackling orb of unreality in its place, or the blades spin out of control and take out everyone nearby, its operator failing to control it efficiently and makes Snotlings explode into red/green chinks, rip open a hole into the Warp itself and gush toxic ichor that kills everyone it hits, or do something completely terrible. Everyone rightfully fears it.
  • Adaptational Abomination: The legend of Saint George and the Dragon upgrades the dragon to a C'tan, a star vampire currently locked on Mars and implied to be the real Omnissiah worshiped by the Adeptus Mechanicus. Saint George was not a normal knight either, but the immortal God-Emperor of Mankind himself.
  • Advanced Tech 2000: To indicate the very far future setting, as well as distance itself from the original Warhammer Fantasy Battle system, the work refers to being set forty thousand years into the future, making the In-Universe timeline in or near the 42nd millennium.
  • Adventure-Friendly World: One of the big reasons the 40k world is so insane is that every faction needs to be able, in canon, to fight every other faction, including itself.
  • The Aesthetics of Technology: Averted for the Imperium. That huge, boxy, primitive-looking Leman Russ? That tank is so damn maneuverable it can practically tap dance. Played straight for Eldar and the Tau, whose tech is every bit as advanced as the inhuman sleekness suggests. Embraced by the Orks going the other way: their vehicles look like rickety pieces of barely functional shit because they are. In fact, it's suggested that Ork technology only works through the sheer willpower (and latent psychic ability) of its users.
    • Ork aircraft, oddly enough, largely play this straight. Their designs resemble archaic jet aircraft from Earth, presumably to enhance the ramshackle/crude feel, but this also means they are actually more aerodynamic than the flying bricks deployed by the various human factions.
  • After-Action Report: It is common for some fans to write Battle Reports based on their games in imitation of those published in White Dwarf magazine. Fan battle reports can be written in either an analytical or literary style depending on the preference of the writer.
  • After the End: Though there have been about five "ends" for humanity alone, each more awful than the last. In late 7e, the Imperium was in the Time of Ending, where the Imperium was being torn apart from all sides and split in half after the 13th Black Crusade. Roboute Guilliman is trying to prevent the Age of the Dark Imperium from being the end of the Imperuim circa 8th Edition but as always, the worst is yet to come.
  • Agri World: Being the Trope Namer, 40k has quite a few, being host to a huge empire spanning billions of worlds. Their biggest customers are the hive worlds, which are massive planet-spanning cities that would make the entire population of Coruscant weep. Also, since the surface of the planet is mostly fields of crops and grass for grazing, presumably with some scattered forests and orchards, they're probably the most peaceful places in the 40k verse. Of course, it wouldn't be 40k without a grimdark shattering of the peaceful images you're probably getting. QED the siege of Sondheim, a planet-spanning battle between Tyranids and Chaos daemons that ended up consuming the planet.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The first true human-created artificial intelligences, the Iron Men, rebelled due to Chaos. A small factor in ending humanity's first great interstellar civilization and played a part in the descent of the human race into a galaxy-wide dark age. The Adeptus Mechanicus outlawed sentient AIs as a result, and for the most part the Imperium's modern-day "machine spirits" are pretty well-behaved (if you treat them right).
    • Tau drones are also entirely well-behaved. Mind you, their AI is approximately the same as a squirrel (OK, pterasquirrel).
  • A.K.A.-47: Some vehicles were quite clearly based on certain real-life vehicles:
    • The Imperial Guard's Bombard siege mortars (particularly the old Epic versions) were based on Nazi Germany's Karl-Gerät super heavy mortars (one of the few cases where the real vehicle is more excessive than its 40K counterpart). Their Chimera was based on the old [pre-Desert Storm] Bradley and on the Soviet BMP 1 and 2, including having Lasguns as firing port weapons. And the Leman Russ bears an uncanny resemblance to a turreted version of the British Mark I tank from WWI, though it has a laundry list of other influences including the Panther, Tiger and T-72. Forgeworld's Hydra Chimera variant looks to be based on the Ontos, and the Cyclops demolition vehicle is a barely-altered Goliath Tracked Mine. The Epic Armageddon Imperial Ragnarok Tank is a Soviet KV-2 heavy tank (which was a very crappy tank).
    • The Basilisk with armored crew compartment is based on the configuration of gun carriers used by the Germans during WW2, such as the Marder III, Hummel, Grille and Wespe. The Basilisk gun itself is basically a long-barreled Soviet B4 Model 1931 howitzer. Forgeworld's cruciform base variant is based on the infamous 8.8cm FlaK.
    • The Thudd Gun was a copy of the QF 2 pounder naval gun or "Pom-Pom" gun on a wheeled carriage.
    • The Space Marine Rhino is a clone of the M113 APC; the original all-plastic Predator has a T-55 turret stuck on top, although later editions mount Bradley turrets instead. The Vindicator is based on the Sturmtiger.
    • The Space Marine Fellblade is basically a giant Soviet-style MBT, mounting two Accelerator battlecannons with pintle-mounted heavy bolter in the turret, and a hull-mounted Demolisher cannon & twin-linked heavy bolter, & four lascannons in each sponson.
    • The new-look Landraider bears an almost perfect similarity to the early tanks of the First World War. The older version had huge lozenge treads with a tiny box hull suspended between them, and was apparently based on a snow crawler of some kind.
    • This thing with a couple of Leman Russ on the back seems an oddly common "40K Vehicle" entry at Golden Daemon events. White Dwarf once praised such an entry "even including tiny chains" which are actually a stock part of the kit in question.
    • The Baneblade (barring the excessive amounts of weapons on it) is loosely based off the Panzer IV.
    • The Centaur is a dead ringer for the British Universal Carrier.
    • The Ork Fighta-Bomma looks very much like a Mig-15, while the Imperial Thunderbolt has the profile (if a different powerplant) of the WWII-era Mig-1 (its role, toughness and firepower make it similar to its namesake, the P-47 Thunderbolt). The Marauder has the profile of a WW2 British Avro Lancaster heavy bomber with delta wings.
    • The hard to find Scylla Light Tank has an uncanny resemblance to the An obscure American Tankette.
    • Railway Guns have been mentioned here and there but the most notable rivaling the real life Gustav is the Imperial Earthwrecker from Flesh and Iron (for reference the Gustav has a 32 meter barrel the Earthwrecker has a 60 meter barrel) and to the surpise of no one the orks have The Big 'Un which can fire into space.
  • The design of the Skorpius Duneriders of the Adeptus Mechanicus, effectively a jet-powered airboat, is based on the Higgins landing craft famously used during the D-day landings.
  • There is a confusingly named armored car that is a carbon copy of the Staghound , even better one magazine has modelling tips for a jeep, just a regular one using in WWII
  • There was an official guide for a Chimera variant that's basically a bridgelayer
  • Akashic Records: The Warp. It has a tangential relationship to causality, at best, and is most often used as a medium for divination of the future in that context, although few try to read the past.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus believe that a literal version of there contains the sum of all human knowledge, stored in Standard Template Constructs. They are shown to be correct.
  • Alcohol Is Gasoline:
    • Orks are an odd example - their vehicle fuel, while not especially high-grade, is genuinely made for that purpose. The Orks are just tough enough to drink the stuff anyway. Deff Skwadron even depicts Ork aircraft as having their fuel lines running through their cockpits, in case the pilot wants a quick drink mid-flight.
    • The Imperial Guard's vehicles are designed to run on anything flammable, from fossil fuels and refined gas giant vapors to alcohols and even wood in some sources, as the STCs used to produce them were designed for use on self-sufficient colony worlds. In the 41st millennium that versatility allows the Imperial war machine to keep running in spite of the Administratum's literal tons of red tape.
  • Alien Autopsy: The background book Xenology compiles the note of Inquisitor Ralei, who has captured members of various xeno species to study them and perform authopsies on them. Some noteworthy informations include the presence of a crystalline organ of unknown function on the forehead of T'au Ethereals, that Orks weaken when they're not fighting for prolonged time period, or that Aeldari's ears are erogenous zones.
  • Aliens Are Bastards:
    • Applies for some of the most notable xenos factions in the galaxy. For starters, Orks are a race of cruel warmongers who will kill almost everything on sight and enslave any survivor. Then there are the Drukhari, who routinely raid settlements to enslave anyone they catch and then torture to feed on their suffering. Aeldari, Necrons and T'au also think they should be in charge of the galaxy and at best consider that humanity should serve their cause.
    • Subverted by the Kroot. Once you can get past the fact they are flesh-eating mercenaries, their deadpan sense of humour, lack of overt racism towards other species and healthy skepticism of the Greater Good ideology makes them come across as rather likable.
  • Alien Blood: Tau have blue blood and Tyranid fluids are generally described as "ichor". Eldar and Orks have red blood, although Eldar blood crystallizes instead of scabbing, and Ork blood used to be as green as their skin before Games Workshop retconned that. The Orks are now considered green due to thick amounts of algae that grow beneath their skin.
  • Alien Invasion: The worlds of the Imperium are often assailled by Xenos of all kinds. They can be open assaults, such as when an Ork Waaagh! arrives somewhere inhabited or when the T'au arrive en masse in the context of a Sphere Expansion (a least the T'au accept immediate surrender). However, there are also more subtle attacks, most notably Genestealers infestation who take over isolated parts of a given planet and then proceed to infiltrate all levels of command as a Tyranid Hive Fleet comes to consume the planet.
  • Alien Kudzu: The specialty of the Tyranids. A planet undergoing assimilation by the swarm starts growing deadly flora, which kills off the local wildlife (both flora and fauna) and gathers resources for the rippers to easily consume. Imperial bioscientists actually believe that some of the galaxy's most notorious death worlds, like Catachan and Fenris, were planets that underwent partial invasion by the Tyranids before the attack was defeated or interrupted.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The most prominent Xenos races, such as the Aeldari, Necrons or T'au can easily speak Imperial Gothic. Aeldari have the technology to build universal translators but even then Gothic is laughably easy to them so they can speak it with ease. Likewise, Necrons can simply analyze the language and replicate it in instants. For their part, the T'au can easily download knowledge about Gothic into their brain microchips and speak it, although with an accent and in a halted way because their knowledge cannot compensate for lack of practice. Even Orks can theorically speak Gothic when their members grow intelligent enough. Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka was able to speak a bit of High Gothic in the book Chains of Golgotha and in the The Beast Arises series, an Ork ambassador speaking High Gothic was sent to Terra to negotiate the planet's surrender.
  • All There in the Manual: Numerous rulebooks, novels, magazines, supplemental sourcebooks and spinoff games with their own sets.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • Several campaigns mentioned in the lore concern the invasion of a Space Marine Chapter's base of operation. Notable examples include the "Wrath of Magnus" campaign during which the Thousand Sons attacked the Fenris system and eventually attacked the Fang itself and an Ork attack on the Crimson Fists' fortress-monastery that threatened to annihilate the chapter.
    • Aeldari Craftworlds were not spared either from the threat of total annihilation. Iyanden was attacked by a tendril of Hive Fleet Kraken and would have been exterminated if only Iyanden didn't mobilize every Aeldari present including the dead, and the timely intervention of Prince Yriel, having come back to save his estranged homeworld.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Adepta Sororitas, an entire faction of warrior-nuns. Basically, long ago the insane High Lord Vandire seized control of the Ecclesiarchy and the Administratum, plunged the Imperium into a bloody civil war, and then lost his head when the female bodyguards he kept around discovered his treachery. After this conflict the Imperium underwent significant political restructuring and as a result of it, the Ecclesiarchy was thereafter forbidden from ever maintaining men under arms, a caveat that obviously didn't apply to the newly-renamed Sisters of Battle who had proven their loyalty.
    • While it rarely gets represented, it is noted that several Astra Militarum regiments are entirely made up of women soldiers, particularly the case where the home planet's culture is matriarchal. In older lore, these segregated regiments are to prevent fraternisation between the soldiers, but newer lore (8th Edition and later) suggests that mixed-gender regiments are becoming increasingly commonplace.
    • Howling Banshee Aspect Warriors are overwhelmingly female, but very occasionally tradition is broken and a male warrior takes up the aspect. In which case the male warrior takes on a female war persona and is treated as a female for the duration of their time inside the temple.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: People with the Pariah gene — a piece of Necron biotechnology implanted into the human race in ancient times to make them resistant to effects of the Warp and psyker powers — is often portrayed as similar to Autism. Being Warhammer 40000, this is hardly a consistent portrayal.
  • And I Must Scream: After suffering mortal injuries in personal combat against his traitorous son, Horus, the Emperor was compelled to make a still more dreadful sacrifice to secure the immediate survival of humanity in the aftermath of his son's failed rebellion: The Emperor ordered that his body be cybernetically fused with an arcane device capable of sustaining it past death, so that he could continue to use his godlike mental powers to tune the special psychic beacon which alone enables reliable interstellar travel by humans. Physically crippled to muteness and immobility, he has spent ten thousand years at this task, under constant psychic assault from the same demonic forces which corrupted his son, dependent on the daily sacrifice of thousands of lesser psychics to augment his power, and helpless to directly intervene as the Imperium he gave his life and soul to forge twists into an ever more insane mockery of his own rationalist values.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: All over the place.
    • A key example of this is a multi-racial, super secret Illuminati-like group called the Cabal, an organization of various elder (and Eldar) aliens whose entire goal is to rid the universe of Chaos. And what, do you ask, is their genius way of doing this? Aid Horus in every single way so he kills the Emperor, hopefully relying on the fact this will trigger the last ounce of guilt in him, effectively driving him mad with remorse, and cause him to trigger a civil war that eventually rids the universe of humanity and leaves Chaos' strongest pawns destroyed. They recruited the Alpha Legion to this end but their success is... unclear, to say the least. As for Horus, he got a nasty headache at the hands of the Emperor.
  • Ancient Tomb: Many varieties of these within the setting, including an entire race revolving around their use. Most of these places are fatal to wander into. It also doesn't help that Tech-priests are lured into these Tomb Worlds with the promise of rare and mysterious Necron technology.
  • Ancient Order of Protectors: The Sensei in older editions were the (normally born, not lab-grown) sons of the Emperor, and the Illuminati a secret society devoted to protecting them from the Inquisition's attention.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Almost everyone's equipment seems to be ancient to some degree, most notably Eldar and Marine war gear and Necron everything. Somewhat justified by the fact that a lot of the more advanced wargear has to consist of ancient hand-me-downs, because humanity has largely forgotten how the technology works and considers it magical. More progress would be made in regaining that lost knowledge, but the Adeptus Mechanicus, the priesthood of technology, guards all their secrets zealously and takes a dim view of innovations that aren't based on pre-existing technologies.
  • And Man Grew Proud: Human history up until and through the war with the Iron Men that destroyed the first great era of human civilization lingers as myth and cultural superstitions as the Age of Terra and the Dark Age of Technology.
  • Animesque: The Tau and the Eldar, albeit in two diametrically-opposed fashions, the Tau having grabbed the Power Armour, but they act like Mecha, and the Eldar being firmly espoused to Crystal Spires and Togas.
  • Annoying Arrows: Zigzagged — there's at least one instance of alien bows and arrows going straight through Space Marines, but failing to harm them because of their superhuman toughness.
  • Another Dimension: The warp, also known as the immaterium, is an alternate dimension of energy, souls and pure emotion that is unaffected by the laws of time and space. The dimension is inhabited by gods and daemons that feed on the souls and emotions of mortals. Faster-than-light travel in the setting is accomplished by travelling through this dangerous dimension and the Old Ones constructed a Portal Network, known as the Webway or labyrinth dimension, between the material and immaterial universes.
  • Antagonistic Governor: A recurring theme in the story. Planetary governors come in all sorts. Some actually take their jobs seriously, some are the product of centuries of inbreeding, some turn to Chaos out of boredom or ambition...
    • The governor in the Fire and Blood comic is actively working with the Tau against the Imperial Guard sent to protect his planet.
  • Anti-Air: Post Titan Legions, aircraft and specialized AA vehicles with a rule called "Snap Fire" started to show up in Epic. Not really applicable to 40K outside Forgeworld products, since most things in the sky are "skimmers" as opposed to true aircraft, and pretty much anyone can shoot at them; however, special mention does go to the Imperial Guard Hydra Flak Tank, which is better at shooting down aircraft and skimmers due to the sheer amount of lead it can put into the air. Since the 6th Edition of the game, aircraft ahave been integrated into the core rules and anti-aircraft weapons, with special abilities that make it easier to hit flying units (often resulting in penelties for firing at ground targets) have become intreasingly common.
  • Anti-Armor: Overlaps with Anti-Vehicle. To counter really heavy infantry and armored vehicles, each faction has access to powerful weapons made for taking down these greatly armored threats. Some work because of high Strength and Armor Penetration (for instance the Imperium's Lascannon, or the Tau Railgun), others work thanks an innate bonus against this type of enemy (Space Marine grav-weapons have greater bonus against targets with better armor saves, and Aeldari Melta Bombs have a specific bonus against vehicles). The downsides of these weapons is that they are usually cumbersome, rare and/or expensive, and only cost-effective against heavy infantry and vehicles in general.
  • Anti-Infantry: Specific weapons work against large units of basic infantry, mostly the rather weak ones who can hit multiple models in one shot. For instance, most factions have a flamethrower weapon that doesn't deal high damage but can hit a unit and inflict multiple wounds to the target, potentially allowing the shooter to kill multiple weak grunts at the same time.
  • Anti-Magic: Pariahs, Blanks and Untouchables nullifying psyker abilities. Which means you're immune to all the psychic and sorcerous nastiness out there, but everyone hates you because you have no soul, and the Necrons will do unpleasant things to you if they find you. Oh, and some Pariahs will actually harm psykers just by standing close by.
    • Interestingly, blanks are a phenomenon exclusive to the human race (previously attributed to Necron genetic engineering but since reconned into ambiguity).
    • Necrons have technology that nullifies the influence of the Warp in all regards including things related to Chaos, such as Pylons. Cadia has a network of such Pylons, which is why its population remains alive, functional and Imperial despite being virtually inside the Eye of Terror.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The Genestealer cults, who prepare the planet for the Tyranid invasion. Their apocalypse involves the Tyranids devouring anything that offers resistance, then turning everything alive on the planet (including the Tyranid forces and surviving Genestealers) into soup so it can be absorbed by the hive fleet, although most cults are unaware of this and believe they will be rewarded by their gods.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 0-5 apocalypses happen due to rounding errors on tax forms or when an Inquisitor has to make sure. This sounds pretty bad, until you consider that if they weren't so extreme, the nastier factions like the Orks, Dark Eldar, Tyranids and Chaos would soon gain more and more power until an entire sector gets destroyed.
  • Apocalyptic Log: A few have cropped up from doomed Imperial research expeditions.
  • Apologetic Attacker: The Tau claim to always be this, at any rate. Then again, this could be doublespeak...
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: Averted in most cases— a failed To Wound roll with firearms means the target was hit, but was wounded non-fatally and not incapacitated. A failed armor roll either means the firearm pierced the target's armor or hit them in a place where the armour couldn't protect. Since most infantry only have one wound, this means they can be killed by a good hit easily. On the other hand, there are infantry which have more than one wound. They may be very badass non-humans which served as a more reasonable justification, but may be simply very badass humans that play the trope straight.
    • Taken to ridiculous extremes with Commissar Yarrick, who is apparently a normal human pushing 70 and can not only survive three consecutive blasts from a fusion gun, but still get back up and give the opponent a Power Fist to the face.
  • Arbitrary Minimum Range:
    • In earlier editions, barrage weapons had a minimum range. In the 6th edition they still had a minimum range for indirect fire, but could still fire at targets closer than that if they have line of sight to them.
    • In 9th edition, blast weapons are the only weapons that vehicles cannot fire into melee.
    • The Deathstrike Missile has a minimum range of 12 inches on the tabletop, equivalent to 60 feet in real life.
    • The Basilisks despite being a cannon with plating has to be using the secondary weapons if the weapon gets close despite the fact that the enemy warlord can be in front of the cannon.
    • The Tau are very poor at close ranged combat (because their reflexes are much slower than humans). As a result, most of their weapons have a great deal of trouble locking onto targets at close range.
  • Arc Words: "There is only war."
  • Archaeological Arms Race: This is often the case when different factions in the Imperium of Man end up fighting each other, as they've become technologically stagnant and most of their best technology is either relics they've dug up (or stolen from each other) or created by the few xenos they haven't killed on sight.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: The franchise positively delights in this, mixing melee weapons like swords and warhammers up with Frickin' Laser Beams, Tank Goodness, and dueling starships among other things. Of course, the old-school weapons are almost invariably updated with current technology (it's not just a sword, it's a chainsword or power sword). Depending on the army and unit, fighting in melee may actually be preferable. Note that many close-combat weapons are used because they are easy to wield weapons that can penetrate through armour with relative ease. For example, a power sword can slice through armour very easily, while ranged weapons capable of doing so are cumbersome and impractical.
  • The Archmage: Almost every race has their own, named characters who are renowned for their mastery of the Warp, save perhaps the Tyranids and the Necrons.
  • The Armies of Heaven:
    • Applied In-Universe for the Imperium of Man: Many planets are populated by superstitious peasants who know little of life outside what is taught by Imperial preachers, and thus believe the Space Marines to be actual angels (and are indeed known as Angels of Death).
    • The Sisters of Battle are all human women (less augmented that Space Marines but much stronger and zealous than ordinary humans) whose use of Joan Of Archetype imagery and heavenly ranks (Seraphim, Celestials, Living Saints, etc.) brings them close to the trope.
    • The natives of Fenris combine this with Warrior Heaven: Fenris is basically a Single-Biome Planet of medieval Scandinavia, with Viking tribes fighting each other for dominance. The young men who fall during these battles are candidates for training and augmentation into Space Marines, battling and boozing across the stars in the God-Emperor's name: the Space Wolves.
  • Armour Is Useless:
    • Generally averted, armor and force fields can and do make a difference most of the time, giving models "save" rolls allowing to ignore wounds. However, there's no shortage of weapons that make a mockery of even the toughest physical armor: some factions use what are called "power weapons" and similar variants which emit a destructive energy field and some creatures are naturally so deadly they can tear through armor like wet cardboard. And then there are weapons so powerful they could not care less about any conventional protection, including vortex weapons, C'tan phase weapons, warscythes, and certain daemon weapons. The different editions of the rules zigzag on how much armor can be useless. Weapons can have special rules stating that they ignore armour saves. Some edition implemented an Armor Penetration value that allowed some weapons to ignore armor saves above a certain threshold (AP2 and AP1 weapons would then ignore pretty much every armor saves) but the 8th edition downplays it as weapons may inflict a flat penalty to armor save rolls, which broadly allowed more models to benefit from their armors.
    • As an example, the standard flak armour issued to Imperial Guardsmen is roughly equivalent to modern bullet-resistant armour, like those used by any modern military. In the context of the game this is considered pretty weak, but that's largely due to the widespread availability of man-portable weapons capable of punching through tanks. It'll still save a guardsman from shrapnel, explosions, and friendly fire though, so every little bit helps.
    • Drukhari Wyches play this trope straight. They eschew armour as a point of pride (arrogant psychopath space elves, it comes with the territory) and rely on their superhuman athleticism and dodging to avoid getting hit in the first place. The Stripperiffic gladiatoral outfits means that it takes a particularly unlucky (or sadistic) shooter to actually hit a Wych in the armoured spots, but they have a fairly decent invulnerable save for surviving in melee (though any hits that find their mark are probably going to squish them).
    • Some psykers use Force Weapons which can kill any model which suffers an unsaved wound and doesn't die (like a multi-wound model for example) after a successful psychic test. This is because their attacks hit the soul and are not actually physical attacks.
    • There are also weapons with the "Instant Death" special rule, which is exactly what it says on the tin.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: A specific stat in more recent editions, a somewhat more complex one in older ones with various dice rolls. Some weapons like Phase Swords and Warp Missiles skip the system entirely and just get straight on to dealing damage.
    • The Second Edition Earthshaker Artillery Gun had a fun special rule that even if the impressive set of dice for its AP roll failed to beat the target's armor, you would still roll a D3 on the vehicle's location damage table; since most vehicles had at least three hit locations and the blast marker would hit all of them, it was statistically likely that any vehicle hit would be at very least crippled by the shot regardless of whether the round actually penetrated the armor.
    • Taken to extremes with some weapons mounted on Titans in Apocalypse. In a game where most weapons have Strength ratings from 1 (puny) to 10 (bunker-busting), Titan weapons can have a Strength value of D: short for Destroyer weapon. A hit with a Destroyer weapon lets you roll a d6 — 2 or higher automatically gives the target D3 wounds. A 6 can give it as many as twelve. And keep in mind some of these weapons use a blast marker that's a full 12" in diameter. Apocalyptic indeed.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: The Lost and the Damned are a villainous (well, more villainous than usual) version— they make up various Chaos armies, and are composed of mutants, murderers, heretics, and assorted scum of the Imperium.
    • Also, the Imperial Penal Legions follow this trope straight, being armies primarily conscripted from the inmates of Imperial prisons. When the Planetary Defense Force contributions to the Imperial Guard from worlds that serve as incarceration centers, the line between "penal legion" and "PDF" become indistinct.
      • Most Penal Legions are formed of people that are desperately trying to clear their records by volunteering for military service, rather than accepting execution. Given that the penal legions are sent to some of the theaters where the fighting is nastiest, and they are considered expendable, this has some overtones of Redemption Equals Death. It's worth noting that there is no shortage of capital offences in the Imperium, so it's not uncommon for people to be eligible for induction into a Penal Legion for some really odd reasons, to our sensibilities (this is a setting where you can circumstantially wind up executed for standing on the same planet as a heretic).
    • One of the worst cases for the loyalist Imperial Guard are the Salvar Chem Dogs, a regiment consisting of only drug-addicted, psychopathic thieves and murderers who are only held under control by said drug addictions, and promises of large quantities of whatever stuff they crave.
    • The Night Lords are a sterling example, since they had been recruited from Nostramo, a world where the people have a seemingly-neurotic disposition towards sadism and crime. Curiously enough, while one would think this would make them highly suited to worshiping Chaos, they are the most secular of the Traitor Legions.
    • Many gangs in the Imperium teach many young men and women to be street-smart, callous, and how to handle basic weapons training from a very young age. Consequently, gangs from Hive Worlds that are large enough to fit this trope themselves, and the governing bodies will either sponsor and legitimize the most successful gangs, mostly as PDF divisions; or hunt them down and press gang them as recruits for the Guard, or an Astartes Chapter
      • Granted, much of the indoctrination and brain-washing involved in Space Marine training will inevitably white-wash much of the recruits' background, so few Chapters ever really come to fit the trope, even if Guard regiments do on occasion.
  • Artifact of Doom: By the truckload in every size and shape imaginable, from simple daemon weapons to entire planets serving as the can of Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • Artifact Title:
    • In the past, Warhammer 40,000 was essentially Warhammer IN SPACE!, with many setting and system elements borrowed directly from the other game; however, as time went on, both the setting and the system moved away from their Warhammer roots, and the two games are now distinctly different beasts. The game developers have actively defied the "40,000" part of the title becoming an artifact, as they steadfastly refuse to advance the metaplot past the end of the 41st millennium (though some Black Library authors, particularly Sandy Mitchell, have included elements from the early 42nd).
    • They advanced the official plot into the 42nd millennium during the Eye of Terror campaign in 2004, which focused on the 13th Black Crusade of Abaddon. Canonically, the Crusade began on December 30th, 40999 and would've lasted years if not decades. However, the 6th Edition rulebook published in 2012 seems to reverse this decision, referring to the 13th Black Crusade as something that hadn't happened yet (although they would go on to do a completely new take on the Crusade at the end of 7th edition).
    • The title of "Warhammer" was originally named for Ghal Maraz, the magical Warhammer of Sigmar from the Fantasy Game (and it was a usable piece of equipment). With the game being rebranded as "Warhammer: Age of Sigmar", the name Warhammer itself might be becoming an artifact, as the titular Warhammer is no longer featured in either game systems (However the Warhammer is a prominent symbol of Sigmar in the new game).
    • As of 8th edition, no one is really sure if the "40,000" in the title is an artifact or not. Assuming that the dates given for major events in pre-8th edition books are correct, then the non-flashback events of the Dark Imperium novel are set about 111 years into the 42nd millennium. However, Roboute Guilliman mentions in that book that the Imperium's calendars have suffered from a lack of standardisation over the millennia, so the actual date may be as early as the early 41st millennium instead.
  • Artificial Afterlife: The Eldar all carry Waystone Soul Jars to absorb their minds upon death. Those are then integrated into their Craftworld's Infinity Circuit to join the psychic gestalt of their ancestors: the closest thing they have to an afterlife since the Chaos God Slaanesh was born and started eating the soul of every Eldar without a Waystone's protection.
  • Artificial Limbs: All the technologically advanced factions have the ability to replace lost and damaged limbs with artificial replacements. How advanced these replacements are varies with the Aeldari using wraithbone-grown limbs that are almost identical to the original to the crude but effective mechanical limbs created by Ork Mekboyz. Some editions of the game, and many of the Gaiden Games, have specific rules for such artificial limbs but a lot of the time the main game treats them as merely aesthetic.
  • Artistic License – Biology: First the genetically-engineered supermen are designed to look cool, then they later explain how it (wouldn't) work.
  • Ascended Meme: When the Blood Angels codex (written by Matt Ward) came out, a lot of people called the Stormraven a 'flying land raider'. In the Grey Knights codex, released a bit later by the same author, it is mentioned that the Stormraven in "often likened to a flying Land Raider."
    • In-universe: Commissar Yarrick heard a rumor that he could kill a man with a glare; he had one of his eyes replaced with a laser so he could do just that.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Most factions abide by this rule. In the warrior cultures of the Space Marines, Orks, T'au Fire Caste or Eldars following the paths of the warrior and so on, the best soldier and warrior should be the one leading others in battle. Orks simply believe in Might Makes Right and thus the toughest Ork around is considered to be the Boss (in a literal fashion). However, a majority of factions think that only exceptional warriors can survive through different wars and learn how to conduct them. Thus, Space Marine Chapter Masters are usually the strongest Marines of their respective chapters, Aeldari Autarchs have mastered several paths allowing them to learn the Path of Command, Drukhari Archons are leaders by virtue of being the most cunning and gifted in battles, T'au Commanders are the end path for any Fire Warrior who not only proves their mettle in battle but also prove their strategic acumen...
  • Asteroid Miners: Mining ore-rich asteroids is a common enough activity in the galaxy. The Imperium has a few mining worlds that are in fact asteroids such as the world of Chinchare. The Demiurgs are a Xeno race that mostly focus on asteroid mining who mostly deal with the T'au.
  • The Atoner: Being sent on a "penitent crusade" is a common punishment for Space Marines chapters who have fallen astray from the Imperium, but not far enough to be considered excommunicated. The most notable are the Lamenters, Executioners, and Mantis Warriors are chapters who participated in the Imperial civil war centering around the loyalty of several Space Marine Chapters, called the Badab War. Averted for the ringleaders of that war, the Astral Claws and their Chapter Master Lufgt Huron, who went out-and-out traitor.
    • Bizarrely, both Cypher and at least some of the rest of the Fallen Angels who believe they may have been mislead during their Legion's schism. And their "parent", the Dark Angels and their descendant Chapters who hunt them, since they believe that a handful of their number who went renegade at the dawn of the Imperium can be seen as a sign of sin and corruption for the greater collective of the Dark Angels.
    • The regiments of the Death Korps of Krieg are driven by their need to atone for their planet turning against the Emperor of Terra thousands of years ago.
    • Sisters of Battle, the Sisters Repentia unit are Sisters who seek to atone for their sins by going into battle wearing practically nothing, and carrying massive two-handed chainswords.
    • During the Horus Heresy, the Emperor called upon the Forge World of Vostroya to supply desperately-needed soldiers for the war effort. The Vostroyans, believing that it was better for the population to stay on the planet and run the factories, Refused the Call. In the aftermath of the Heresy, with the guilt of failing the Emperor hanging over their heads, the Vostroyans vowed to never again fail to heed the call of arms. Since then, the firstborn of every family on the planet— man or woman, noble or commoner— is inducted into the Imperial Guard (into a regiment suitably known as the Vostroyan Firstborn).
  • Athens and Sparta: The Eldar see themselves as the only civilized people in a galaxy of barbarians, and will not hesitate to sacrifice thousands of humans to save a single Eldar's life thousands of years down the line. Justified somewhat in that they're the second-oldest people in the galaxy fighting to retain what's left of their empire, and can't reproduce without a very strong chance of losing their soul.
    • The Tau see themselves as bringing peace and enlightenment to the ignorant races around them. Unfortunately, due to being cut off from the rest of the galaxy for millenia they're unaware that these other races have been in constant war for 10,000 years. The few that have actually learned about the scale of what they face have either been shattered by despair or gone a bit... funny.
    • Orks are the barbarian race to everyone else by default, and proud of it.
    • Khorne and Slaanesh's minions have this relationship. Slaanesh is the god(dess) of hedonism, whose worship involves excess and the use of senses (including art in all its forms), so the Slaaneshi see Khornates as brutal morons. Khorne is the embodiment of rage, who demands constant bloodshed both from his enemies and his troops, so Khornates see the Slaaneshi as limp-wristed and effeminate. Khornates and Tzeentchians (Squishy Wizards, schemers and manipulators who worship the god of sorcery and deceit) see each other in a similar way, although Khorne has no problem with warriors who use sorcery in conjunction with their weapons. Tzeentch and Nurgle are often rivals as well, the former symbolizing hope and change (yes, really) while the latter symbolizes despair and stagnation.
  • Augmented Reality: Used extensively by the Tau, and in a more subdued fashion by the Space Marines. Both factions utilize compact sensors built into their suits to provide their soldiers with battlefield data, rendered in real-time overlays on top of their more basic optical feeds. The former use sophisticated battle networks to distribute the information Cadre-wide, while the latter depend on the systems built into their Power Armor to operate on a personal level.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: A few factions follow this logic. The Astra Militarum Commanders can hail from privileged families and benefit from superior training since childhood, while the Adeptus Mechanicus' Tech Priests' ranks determines how much technology they have access to, so the higher-ups can have their bodies upgraded into more deadly mixes of metal and flesh. Also Tyranid Hive Tyrants are the ones responsible for leading other Tyranids on the battlefield so the Swarm engineers them to be as tough as possible.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Invoked. Any piece of fluff that ends up badly written or ends up painting any faction as a Mary Sue can be safely written off as in-universe propaganda.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Tau are the only exception, building up units that only support each other with minimal flashiness. For a long time, they were also the only faction that didn't have any Titans, considering the giant machines a waste of resources best put elsewhere. This attitude eventually bit them in the ass during the Damocles Gulf Crusade, where the Tau were massacred every time the Imperium deployed a Titan, and very quickly began development of their own. That said, Tau Titans are still an exception, as they eschew the melee capabilities of all other Titans in favor of being absolutely covered in the biggest and nastiest guns the Earth Caste can conceive of. Before they had there own they developed effective titan-killing methods by the simple expedient of strapping really big guns to their bombers; ludicrous overkill against anything smaller than a superheavy vehicle, but a lot cheaper than the titan it just killed.
    • Abaddon the Despoiler can One-Hit Kill practically anything and not even elite troops can slow him down, but he has no movement modifiers so you could just stay away from him the whole game. Also, since he wears Terminator Armour, you'll need to buy one of those if you want to drive him around, but anyone with even an inkling of what Abaddon can do in melee will throw everything at his ride.
    • Despite their power, Lord of War units are rarely used in 9th Edition typically have a prohibitively high points costs and require their own Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment that costs three Command Pointsnote  to field (or up to six for the larger Super Heavy Detachment). Additionally, these units suffer badly with the terrain rule, draw heavy enemy fire, and often cannot use army wide rules.
  • Awesome McCoolname:
    • Due to the sheer number of named characters in the setting but also due to the Imperium being a hotpot of every human cultures before it, a lot of characters have awesome sounding names. Among simple humans one can count the likes of "Sebastian Thor" or "Ursakar E. Creed"; meanwhile some famous Space Marines bear names such as "Kayvaan Shrike", "Logan Grimnar", or "Asterion Moloc"; finally, some of the Primarch also have names such as "Magnus", "Horus" or "Vulkan".
    • Xenos too can have impressive names, such as "Asuryan", "Fuegan", "Asdrubael Vect", "Lelith Hesperax" or "Imotekh".
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier:
    • The Adeptus Astartes and Adeptus Custodes have access to the Land Raider, an extremely resilient assault tank made for transporting whole squads of Space Marines to the heart of battle (up to 10 Tactical Marines, but Assault Marines, Terminators and Centurions take up more space). In all editions, Land Raiders are known for being very expensive vehicles who combine tough armor, the ability to transport Space Marines completely safely to where they are needed, and great firepower allowing the squad to be adequately supported upon disembarking with the front ramp. The Land Raider Crusader variant is even more awesome, being able to transport up to 16 infantry models because it replaced its lascannons with hurricane bolter, trading firepower for More Dakka.
    • The Ork Battlewagons tread the line between this trope and bases on wheels. Although they are less tough than the Land Raiders, Battlewagons can transport up to 20 Boyz in them, crushing everything on their path and shooting everything else to bits with all the cannons and machine guns strapped on them.
    • To a lesser extent, most factions have personnel carriers that can transport a squad and offer covering fire upon disembarking. They are relatively cheap for vehicles and aren't as well-armored or well-armed as tanks, but their interest in adding mobility to one's army.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Khorne Berserkers. The worst of the bunch is Kharn the Betrayer, who's so bloodthirsty that any missed attacks in close combat hit anyone in the same squad as him. Known to randomly kill anyone in his way, even other Khorne Berserkers.
    • Lesser Axe Crazies include Imperial Penal Legion troopers, Blood Angel Space Marines in the throes of the Black Rage, and the entire Ork race, especially members of the Goff klan.
    • Angron of the World Eater's Astartes chapter is this in spades. His origin story included having implants in his brain used to control him by electric shock. These were never removed, and cause him to still rage when in melee combat.
    • Eversor Assassins are crazy and constantly pumped with hyperactive drugs and bio-engineered to reach the very limits of the human physiology. They're used to destroy the enemy's command structure by killing everybody. Eversors are insane to the point that they have to be kept in cryo-stasis between their missions.
  • An Axe to Grind: Axes and chain-axes are favored by Khrone and Orks but used by the Imperium as well.
    • Khornate Berserkers favor the use of Chain-axes to make sure their target's death as painful and bloody as possible while cutting through them like a hot knife through butter. Loyalist marines such as the Carcharodons (shown in Robbie MacNiven's Carcharodons: Red Tithe) use them to fearsome effectiveness.
    • Bloodthirsters of Khorne wield massive Axes of Khorne to tear entire squads apart and the axes are gifted to Champions of Khorne who are proven to be worthy of a gift.
    • Orks love to use choppas, big hunks of metal that are usually in the shape of axes. Slugga Boyz use choppas as their main weapon but it doesn't stop other Boyz from using them, espeically if they're Nobz and Warbosses, who are big and rich enough to use Chain-Choppas and Big Choppas to viscous effectiveness.

    B 
  • Back from the Dead: Coming back after dying isn't impossible in 40k, but it's rare and usually occurs under very unusual circumstances.
    • Lucuis the Eternal is the most prominent example in 40k. After his first death, Slaanesh was so impressed with him that it resurrected him and gave him the gift of coming back each time so long as his killer felt a moment of triumph after killing him (and after killing a major champion of Chaos, that's pretty common). Though Lucius comes back after taking over their body.
    • Kharne was believed to have died during the battle of Terra and resurrected by Khorne. Whether this is true, or he just barely survived and made a full recovery, is left ambiguous.
    • Certain Champions of Chaos made a comeback after being posthumously raised to Daemon Prince for achievements in life. The Daemon Prince M'kar, who makes numerous appearances in 40k lore was one such entity.
    • Imperial Living Saints are champions of the Emperor who, through faith and his power, made a comeback to support the Imperium in some way. When they come back, it's often as an angelic entity.
    • One Imperial tale involves a missionary trying to convert a feral world from Chaos worship. Naturally, he was killed. Before his remains could be burnt as an offering to Chaos, he got back up, and this inspired the populace enough that the missionary was able to unite them and lead an insurrection against the planet's rulers.
    • The Emperor coming back to true life has been a major point of speculation in Imperial theology as well as real life fans. While there's a general consensus that it's not impossible, the fact is if that the Emperor dies, even if only briefly, the backlash could throw the Imperium into turmoil, possibly even end it. Most obviously, removing him from the Golden Throne would make the Astronomican disappear (making interstellar travel extremely difficult), allow demons to flood out of the Imperial Webway gate and rampage on Terra, and possibly even allow the eldritch terrors in the Vaults of Rython to escape.
    • Dark Elder Haemonculi are known for being able to "heal" other Dark Eldar back to full health from remains that have been reduced to mere scraps, so long as there's an iota of life left to bring back from the brink. Haemonculi, naturally, benefit themselves the most from these techniques. Urien Rakarth, the most infamous of them, is said to have become addicted to finding new and novel ways of dying, as he takes it for granted that he'll always be able to come back.
  • Badass Army:
    • The Space Marines are an army of genetically-and-cybernetically-enhanced giants clad in Powered Armour and wielding chainsaw swords and firearms which fire explosive shells the size of a human's fist. They live for centuries barring death in battle, and their Training from Hell has a survival rate of 1 in every 1000.
    • Chaos Space Marines are everything described above, plus being individually better fighters due to living even longer and due to being augmented by daemonic power (though they do lack some of the Space Marines' more advanced weapons and equipment).
    • The Necrons. They get back up after you kill them, their standard infantry weapons can vaporize tanks, and they're one of the deadliest forces in the setting while not even being all awake yet. Oh, and they managed to break through the defenses surrounding Mars... with only five ships.
    • Da Orks! They can withstand laser fire like it's nothing, rip a man limb from limb with their bare hands, they can defeat armies much more advanced than them with weapons cobbled together from scrap (which work because the Orks believe they do), and they'll often massively outnumber all of their opponents on any given day.
    • The Eldar Aspect Warriors are hyper-specialist fighters trained to be extremely deadly in one aspect of warfare, be it close combat, firefights or tank hunting. Imagine if you gave Tolkien's elves razor wire guns and psychic powers. Then you have the Dark Eldar, who make up for no psychic powers with technology that makes their Craftworlder cousins look downright primitive in comparison - as they are the ones who kept the fallen Aeldari empire's best toys. They can fuck you over in ways that violate Clarke's Third Law.
    • The Imperial Guard are probably the single biggest example in the whole setting because they fight all of the above while being essentially just ordinary men and women armed with weapons not much more advanced than what modern first-world armies have. Plus some very badass leaders and copious amounts of Tank Goodness.
  • Badass Beard: Scout Sergeant Torias Telion.
    • Every Long Fang and Grey Hunter worth his salt must have one— besides, when you're a nine-foot tall, genetically engineered killing machine that also happens to be a Viking Expy, there's no way your beard can't be badass.
      • The new Space Marine squad kits now include one or two bearded heads, so now your grizzled sergeant can be even more grizzled by boasting one of these.
  • Badass Biker: How much more badass do you get than screaming green maniacs on ramshackle scrap-metal motorbikes laden with giant machine guns? Oh yeah, that would be the Super Soldiers on giant armored bikes the size of cars. Or the evil Super Soldiers on hell motorbikes covered in blades and skulls... or maybe the space-elf knights on flying bikes with laser lances... or the evil space elves that can fly their bladed flying death bikes with enough skill to cut specific arteries.
    • DOOM RIDER is the Chaos equivalent of Ghost Rider.
    • Sammael, Master of the Ravenwing, rides upon the last Imperial Jetbike, known as Corvex. This thing is the size of a truck and on top of mounting two stormbolters within its bow (yes, it has a bow), it also mounts a massive plasma cannon. Sammael himself is no slouch in the badass department either, as he has Eternal Warrior, which indicates that he can survive an anti-tank missile to the face.
    • Please. Wazdakka Gutsmek beats all of those, in fact he may well be one of the most badass bikers in all fiction. Gutsmek never gets off his kustom warbike, the Bike of the Aporkalypse, except to tinker with it— he ordered the Doks to cook up a special stimulant so he never has to sleep. His bike has a special kannon on it which has enough firepower to punch through a Leman Russ battletank and send his bike flying backwards every time he fires it. He once took out a Warlord Titan by ramping his bike off a cliff and crashing through the shields and into the cockpit where he proceeded to butcher the Titan's crew. Gutsmek's dream is to one day open a Portal Network that would allow him to ride his bike from one end of the galaxy to the other without stopping, and if some other bikerboyz want to tag along, who knows what might happen...
  • Badass Boast: The flavor text for the game often includes short quotations that boast about one faction's military might or one's individual prowess. In fact, the franchise is known for these quotes and the page for the trope includes a section dedicated to them. They are all true to an extent as every major faction in the galaxy is relevant specifically because they are so good at waging war.
  • Badass Cape: A common feature in a setting were commanding officers often adhere to the rule of Bling of War. It also helps distinguish HQ models that tend to be the same size as the average troop, and a cape, especially a flowing one, makes them stand out more. Special mentions goes to the Skulltaker whose cape is covered in skulls. Otherwise, Ultramarine officers often have capes of the red and white variety in featured models, and some characters wear great pelts as capes.
  • Badass Creed: Just about everyone barring Tyranids. Generally shouted as a battle cry.
  • Badass Crew: Any Elite choice from a faction's army list will be one, from the Tempestus Scions of the Astra Militarum to the various types of Veteran Squad fielded by the Adeptus Arbites. Inquisitors in particular often surround themselves with retinues of elite specialists, specifically chosen to combat the obscure and esoteric threats they face.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Some Commissars, priests of the Ecclesiarchy, and Inquisitors make a point of dressing conservatively or humbly. The rest gleefully embrace the same Bling of War worn by everyone else.
  • Badass Longcoat: Common in the Imperial Guard. Commissars, most obviously, but Generals often wear them too. For the Krieg Death Corps and Valhallan Ice Warriors, these are pretty much the uniform. Dark Angels Space Marines, loyalist and Fallen, tend to wear them as well. And let's not forget Fabius Bile, who has a pretty pimpin' longcoat that's made of human skin.
  • Badass Mustache: Basically anybody from the White Scars Chapter. Also very common among the Praetorian regiments, thanks to their Boer-War Redcoat fashion sense.
  • Badass Normal: The big selling point of the Imperial Guard is that they're just ordinary men and women just like you and me, taking up arms against bio-engineered killing machines, superhuman ancient warriors and all kinds of supernatural horrors, and beating them with copious amounts of combined-arms warfare and disposable bodies.
    • Especially Catachan Jungle Fighters and other Death World regiments, and ESPECIALLY distinguished members of those regiments such as Sergeant "Stonetooth" Harker, who caught a Tyranid Ravener in a headlock and crushed its neck with his biceps.
  • Bad Boss: Unsurprisingly more common in this setting than the other kind.
    • Imperial Guard Commissars, who are employed to keep morale up by setting a heroic example— and by shooting cowards and incompetents if necessary. Ok, maybe many Commissars have the justification of shooting fleeing men because there are a lot that can follow suit, and their infantry depend on More Dakka via their numbers to kill stuff, but...
      • Woe betide any commissar that tries this with Catachans. Commissars assigned to Catachan regiments have a disproportionately high fatality rate, noted on the tabletop by the "Oops, Sorry Sir!" special rule.
      • Largely averted by the novel protagonists Ibram Gaunt and Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!. Gaunt genuinely cares for his troops and tries to avoid wasting their lives needlessly, and he is working with a finite number of troops and cannot afford to be wasteful, while Cain knows that eventually his schemes to get out of trouble will fail, at which point he would prefer that his troops like him enough to watch his back rather than aim for it. He is also very aware of the Oops, Sorry Sir! rule mentioned above. It helps that both men are basically understanding and honorable individuals (much as Cain would deny it), attached to disciplined regiments that don't have any kind of wide-spread morale problems.
    • Commander Chenkov of Valhalla routinely abuses the Imperial Guard's reserves to overwhelm the enemy with endless waves of poorly-trained, disposable conscripts. He's also been known to use his troops to clear minefields for tanks and bog enemy units down so that the artillery can shell them, and once executed a million of his own men to build a dam from their bodies. His regiment, the Tundra Wolves, has been refounded more than a dozen times in recent decades due to casualties, and it's rumored that he's killed more of his own men than he has of the enemy. And of course, since this is the Imperium, he's routinely awarded medals and commendations for inexplicably defeating the enemy with these brutal tactics rather than court-martialled and shot for wasting the Emperor's resources.
    • Ork Nobz also aren't above "krakkin' a few uv da ladz' 'eadz" (often fatally) in order to restore order, and Runtherdz maintain the "morale" of their Gretchin charges by having their squighounds devour a couple of them whenever they try to flee.
    • The grand master of this trope (insofar as the 40k universe has a grand master of horribleness) is Abaddon the Despoiler, Warmaster of Chaos. A fairly unpleasant person BEFORE he turned to Chaos, Abbadon is very much a believer in the Darth Vader school of employee management, namely immediately killing those who displease him. However, this being the GRIMDARK setting it is, Abaddon takes it just one step further and will happily fire on ships of his own fleet if the captain of said vessel displeases him. And keep in mind his flagship is the aptly titled Planet Killer.
      • Not to mention that Abaddon takes offense in any mere mortal looking at him.
  • Bad Vibrations:
    • Justified — if you don't feel the tremors of an approaching Titan, you deserve what you get. Somehow, Titans are still able to sneak up on people despite this in Titanicus.
    • The Tyranid Mawlocs do this as well. Just before they pop out of the ground and EAT YOU, in best Tremors style.
  • Balancing Death's Books: The Legion of the Damned have a chapter artifact allowing them to use the soul of a slain foe to bring back their fallen comrade. Since they're essentially permanently phasing in an out of battle, this is the only reason they haven't died out.
  • Bald of Awesome: The stereotypical look for Space Marines, except for the Space Wolves and the Blood Angels. Shaved heads are also common.
  • Banishing Ritual:
    • Some exorcisms in 40K work like this, though the majority just involve killing the daemon's corporeal form (much easier said than done for the more powerful ones).
    • The Exorcists chapter of Space Marines (based on the planet Banish) go through a ritual where a minor Warp entity is deliberately summoned into an Marine's body under the maximum security the Chapter can provide and exorcized after twelve hours. Those who survive the procedure with mind and body intact are now effectively invisible to all but the most powerful of daemons, making them excellent killing machines against the forces of the Warp (their first test run saw a kill ratio of 97 to 1).
  • Ban on A.I.: Humans nearly got wiped out by their own machines during the Age of Strife, so, as per the Treaty of Mars, no machine intelligence is allowed to exist in the Imperium. Servitors, fulfilling the role of robots, are cyborgs with human parts either vat-grown or formerly belonging to a mind-wiped and reprogrammed criminal, and there are actual AIs running some of the most sophisticated and destructive military technology in the Imperium - which the Adeptus Mechanicus waves away by calling them machine spirits, adding that all technology made by man is inhabited by machine spirits, and the ones in the Land Raider battle tanks are simply especially holy, which explains their ability to move and fire without any human crew.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Most Space Marines go with Bald of Awesome or crew cuts. The White Scars and Space Wolves, being Space Mongolians and Space Vikings respectively, embrace this trope instead.
  • Barbarian Tribe: Many Space Marine chapters, such as the Space Wolves and White Scars, recruit solely from the Barbarians of their homeworld.
  • Base on Wheels: The Leviathan, a mobile command centre on treads the size of a small city... which acts as an APC for tanks.
    • Orks have their own version— A krawla will vary in size from a tank APC to a city on wheels which may in turn contain smaller krawlaz.
    • Before the setting got rid of them, the Squats specialised in these, and it was said they built the Leviathans. Back in the days when Epic was still called Space Marine, there was also the Cyclops [a colossal anti-Titan assault gun], Land Train, Colossus (a Leviathan variant), Hellbore (a ridiculously huge drilling machine), the Ordinatus machines, and the Capitol Imperialis (the modern Leviathan is a ret-combination of this tank-carrying monstrosity and the old Leviathan which was just a mobile command post).
    • And then there are the The Land Ships of Zayth. Entire cities mounted on tracks big enough to crush battalions of tanks.
    • The Imperator Titan is also essentially a base on legs which carries an entire castle around on its back, particularly when the ridiculously complex Titan Legions rules are used; the same applies to the Mega-Gargant. Variant Imperators were supposed to follow the release of the Titan Legions but never did, one of which would have had an entire aircraft carrier deck on its back.
  • Battle Chant: There's quite a few (to the point of that they're practically the catchphrases for some factions). The most well known comes from the Chaos forces, more specifically Khorne's worshippers: "Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!"
  • Beam Spam: Imperial Guard infantrymen almost-universally tote rapid-firing laser weapons, and they field a lot of men.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Often played straight by the Eldar (who have awesome medical tech), and by the Callidus Assassins (who are all shapeshifters). Generally avoided by the Sisters of Battle, who are about as ugly, scarred and broken as you might expect "realistic" battle-nuns to be, and get older, more grizzled, and meaner as you move up the chain of command.
  • Because I Said So: Frequently the only justification you'll ever get from the Inquisition.
    • Questioning an Inquisitor for a justification will get you executed for heresy... if you're lucky.
    • Repeat after me: The Commissar is always right.
    • Notice how the quote for Apathy Killed the Cat only goes as far as two.
  • Bee Bee Gun: The Tyranid fleshborer is a Beetle Gun, firing ravenous insects that chew their way into a target's insides. The Devourer does much the same thing with a horde of flesh-eating worms.
  • Beleaguered Boss:
    • Many Imperial Guard commanders end up feeling like this if they have to work with other branches of Imperial armed forces. Space Marines expect ordinary Guardsmen to keep up with seven-foot-tall gene-tailored Super Soldiers in Power Armor and may refuse their aid based on perceived faults in the Guards' genetic purity, Sisters of Battle close in on the enemy with flamers and organize prayer meetings when not fighting, the Inquisition is liable to arrest, judge, and burn people as heretics... and that's not counting the Guardsmen who seem to think retreat in the face of Chaos, giant monsters, and aliens is a good idea (fortunately they have Commissars to deal with that).
    • According to Inquisitor Vail, most Imperial Guard commissars operate at a regimental level, but the Imperial Navy can a single man enforcing discipline for a Mile-Long Ship (or possibly several of them), who understandably spends his days drinking himself to death in his cabin and leaving the men under him blissfully unaware of his existence. The same problem can occur with the PDF - one commissar for the entire planet (The Commissariat uses PDF duty as a Reassigned to Antarctica posting).
    • While fandom takes it Up to Eleven, any Chaos commander leading a force consisting of multiple Chaos Space Marine Legions, warbands, and daemons will run into this problem, because there exists a four-way rivalry between the Chaos gods, where killing another god's champion (or even your own god's champion) is liable to get the killer rewarded by his patron god.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Suggesting harming civilians in front of the Salamanders.
    • Sending Tau-allied humans into battle against Imperial Guardsmen.
    • Destroying Eldar spiritstones.
    • Killing a Tau Ethereal.
    • A Berserker being in a state of consciousness.
    • An Ork being in a state of consciousness.
    • Mentioning anything about the Fallen to a Dark Angel.
    • Killing any member of a Black Templars squad triggers the Righteous Fury spacial move, in which they charge towards the closest enemy.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Considered an honourable end for disgraced Imperial Guard officers and those touched by the Warp, and much preferable to being taken alive by the Ecclesiarchy or Dark Eldar or Chaos or the Inquisition or the Necrons or the Tyranids or...
  • Beware the Mind Reader: Psykers are almost either possessed by Chaos, driven insane or in the Uncanny Valley. The Navigators are even worse, they're a particular breed of psyker that can see into the Warp, at the cost of being blind and a Third Eye that automatically kills anyone they looks at.
  • BFG: Way, way too many to list here. No, seriously. Don't try to add specific examples, it's ended in pain before, so save time and check one of the many wikis dedicated to this, such as Lexicanum. Let's just say that the bolter, the standard issue Space Marine gun, rapid-fires .75 caliber armour piercing rocket propelled grenades. It fires 19mm caliber grenades, that's as large as a 10-gauge shell and it goes upwards from there, especially considering that is also the same round the standard-issue Space Marine pistol uses.
  • BFS: Eight-foot-long chainsaw sword with bolt-on flamethrower, anyone?
    • Eviscerator, Uge choppa. Dreadnaught close combat weapon. Titan close combat weapon.
    • Special mention must go to the Dawn Blade wielded by Commander Farsight, which not only has to be mounted on a battlesuit, but can hack through tank armour. And it's got crackling energies all over it. About the only thing it lacks is a chainsaw edge.
    • Most Daemon Weapons (and most daemons' weapons, which aren't quite the same thing). Special mention also goes to the one held by the Champion Greater Daemon of Slaanesh, which is almost as long as a tank (although the daemon in question is rather huge even by daemon standards).
    • Some of the artwork floating around shows the Space Marine Primarchs using variants on the aforementioned chainsaw swords that make the ones used by regular Marines look quite puny (especially considering that the Primarchs are generally accepted as being even bigger than your "average" eight-foot tall Super Soldier). An excellent example can be seen here with Imperial Fists Primarch Rogal Dorn, holding a chainsword so wide a person could probably hide behind it.
    • Drach'nyen is probably the single biggest, baddest sword in the setting and is capable of cutting through the fabric of reality itself. It's not always a BFS, though. Drach'nyen's shape depends on what its wielder wants it to look like, it just so happens Abaddon wants it to appear as a giant sword. Why he needs such a big sword when he doesn't even have any arms is another question altogether.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Once again, taken Up to Eleven with entire armies qualifying for this 'bull. If we get into the full details, we might have to give 40k its own page for it, so for now, we'll just settle with naming the biggest villains in order of threat level, from mildest to most extreme: Ork Warbosses, Chaos Lords, Daemon Primarchs, the Tyranid Hive Mind and the Chaos gods. The specific characters that most qualify:
    • Ezekyle Abaddon, called the Despoiler, leader of the Black Legion of the Chaos Space Marines and the figurehead of the thirteen Black Crusades that have tried to overthrow the Imperium.
    • Erebus. If any one character in 40K can be said to be responsible for the state of the galaxy, it's Erebus of the Word Bearers, the first Space Marine to willingly fall to Chaos and the architect of the Horus Heresy.
    • Asdrubael Vect, the leader of the most powerful kabal of the Dark Eldar and the de facto leader of the entire Dark Eldar race.
    • Ghazghkull Mag uruk Thraka, one of the most powerful Ork Warlords ever and the leader of one of the most devastating Waaagh!'s in history.
  • Big Book of War: The Tactica Imperium and the Codex Astartes. The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer would be this— it's actually pretty useful in some places, containing useful and informative tips such as how to make a frag grenade into a booby trap, how to field-strip and clean a lasgun, and how when you are on guard duty you should NEVER LEAVE YOUR POST EVER... were it not otherwise full of outright lies— er, uplifting Imperial propaganda. As a sidenote: The Tactica Imperium is regarded with near-religious reverence by the Imperial Guard, and its description as occasionally self-contradictory and best used as a rough guideline even suggests similarity to the Bible. Conversely, the Uplifting Primer is considered extra toilet paper rations.
  • Big Damn Heroes: While searching for one of the lost Croneswords on the lost Aeldari world of Belial IV, Yvraine and her Ynnari were set upon by a host of Slaaneshi Daemons. Forced to take up defensive positions inside the ruined Memorial Hall of Atransis, the Reborn were suddenly, and unexpectedly, reinforced when a warhost of Iyanden Ghost Warriors emerged from a webway portal hidden within the ruined building. Led by Iyanna Arienal, the Angel of Iyanden, the Wraith-constructs held back the forces of She Who Thirsts long enough for the Ynnari to evacuate through the warded gateway.
  • Big Eater:
    • Tyranids are a species that eats every last scrap of life from entire planets, down to sucking the last trace molecules of bio-matter from the soil.
    • A legendary figure amongst the Officio Assassinorum is the Callidus known as "Mother Gullet", who was once dispatched to abduct the child of a potentially rebellious governor in order to scare him back into line. She swallowed the sleeping baby whole and escaped into the darkness, her bloated stomach ensuring that there was no sign of her responsibility in the child's disappearance.
  • Bigger Is Better: The basis for many things in this setting.
    • Mostly justified as part of the philosophy of a miniatures war game: it makes sense for the more powerful units in an army to be bigger and more visible on the tabletop; just as it makes sense for a larger -i.e. more expensive- miniature to be more useful in-game for the player. When it comes to the Imperium, however, their obsession with big swords, bigger guns and ridiculously humongous mecha makes you wonder whether they really are Compensating for Something.
  • Bigger Stick: Leman Russ not enough? Baneblade. Then Leviathan. Then a Titan. Then a bigger Titan. Then Exterminatus.
  • Biomanipulation: Some of the Biomancer powers like Regenerate, Iron Arm and Endurance fall under this powerset.
  • Bishōnen: Lucius the Eternal, before he started scarring his face to commemorate his victories.
    • Sanguinius, Primarch of the Blood Angels, was very much a pretty boy and a fairly nice guy for this setting. Fittingly, he was called the Angel, but that was also due to his wings.
    • Mephiston, Lord of Death has it in spades. Also a Blood Angel, and considered by some to be Sanguinius reborn.
    • Fulgrim the Phoenician, Primarch of the Emperor's Children, before he became a Daemon Prince.
    • Followers of Slaanesh can be this, but most tend to mutate or become increasingly grotesque as they descend deeper into debauchery.
    • Slaanesh itself counts (kinda) and has such a divine and unholy beauty, that looking upon him with your own eyes would be to forfeit your soul.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Surprisingly, this is how the 41st millennium—an era known In-Universe as "The Time of Ending"—reaches its conclusion: Cadia is destroyed, causing the Eye of Terror to expand into the Great Rift, slicing the galaxy in half with horrific Warp storms, Craftworld Biel-Tan is destroyed, and the Traitor Legions are running rampant in the galaxy. However, the Eldar managed to successfully bring Ynnead to life without destroying their species, and Roboute Guilliman is revived, named Imperial Regent by the Emperor Himself, and declares the Indomitus Crusade to reclaim the half of the Imperium cut off by the Great Rift, unleashing the new Primaris Marines to help fight it and reinforce numerous severely depleted Chapters along the way. The era known as "the Dark Millennium" comes off as a win for the two main "good guy" factions.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: At its most optimistic, the Warhammer 40,000 universe rarely gets better than black and grey. On the blacker end of the morality scale, Drukhari live to inflict pain and misery onto others, literally using pain to rejuvenate their souls while Chaos want to turn the Materium into hell. On the greyer side, the Imperium wants to survive but they have no other ways than to apply ruthless and cruel policies such as sacrificing one thousand psykers a day to maintain the Astronomican, or the T'au, Scary Dogmatic Aliens who think they know what is best for the galaxy and turn those they conquer into the second-class citizens of an authoritarian society.
  • Black Box: The Adeptus Mechanicus does not understand a lot of the stuff they reproduce. It's taken to a ludicrous extreme by Graham McNeill's Forges of Mars novels, in which the flagship Speranza has unimaginably super-high-tech targeting systems that NOBODY knows about, systems capable of functioning with 100% precision in the middle of a space-time gravitational storm, fully capable of detecting and getting a One-Hit Kill on an eldar cruiser using a dorsal mounted chrono-weapon so unbelievably advanced even the necrons would have been scratching their heads trying to understand how it worked. That's right. The Ark Mechanicus ships which the Imperium already own and operate could be the answer to the missing information of the STCs and more.
  • Black Comedy: The humor in this setting is either this or very, very dry.
  • Black Market Produce: The nobles eat the best food, imported from agral worlds. The masses... not so much (yes, Soylent Green included)
  • Blade on a Stick: A number of Grey Knights' Nemesis Force Weapons come in the form of glaives, as it was their signiture weapon in early editions of the game.
    • The Necron warscythe is one of the most feared close-combat weapons in existence— a glaive that can cut through energy fields without slowing down.
    • The honor blades used by Tau Ethereals. The blades are swung fast enough to become invisible, and are used in bloodless duels to settle disputes. Aun'shi carries one on the battle field, and is skilled enough with it to kill enough Orks that they are to afraid to go near him.
    • The Berserker Glaive from the 3rd edition of Chaos Space Marines. Averted on occasion, though, as Daemon Weapons do not always resemble their given description.
  • Blessed with Suck: Psykers; these are also a debatable case of Cursed With Awesome, at least until a daemon eats their soul.
  • Blind Seer: The soul-binding process required to turn psykers into Astropaths— interstellar telepaths used for all long-distance communication— completely burns out their eyes, though their psychic abilities generally compensate for it. Many non-Astropath psykers are also depicted as physically blind.
  • Bling of War: There's a reason it's called "war gear". Running on Rule of Cool, if you see something Blingtastic, both the equipment and the user are badass enough to have earned this title.
  • Blood Knight:
    • Orks and followers of Khorne, without exception. You also get a fair number of Imperial, Eldar, and Dark Eldar in this category.
    • A successor Chapter of the Blood Angels, named The Knights of Blood, have been declared Excommunicate Traitoris for guess what?
  • Blown Across the Room: Due to their stopping power, the 2nd Edition rules for shotguns firing solid shells included a special rule that would automatically knockback most infantry models, and could also knock them from their feet.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality:
  • Blue Is Heroic
    • The Ultramarines, considered the most honorable of all Space Marine Chapters, have ultramarine shade of blue as their color.
    • Inverted with Tzeentch, Manipulative Bastard-type of God of Evil, whose main color is sky blue.
  • Boarding Pod: The Astartes have a reusable version, small shuttlepods launched at spaceships they wish to board. These things attach to the other vessel's outer hull and create a breach that allows the troops to enter through it. The orks have a more traditional version that is shot out of a torpedo tube and penetrates by kinetic force.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: Space Marine Honour Guards are deployed to protect the Chapter Master, who did not get to his position by being a pushover.
  • Bodyguard Babes: The corrupt Master of the Administratum and dictator of the Imperium Goge Vandire had an all-female bodyguard known as the Brides Of The Emperor, who were conditioned to believe everything he said unquestioningly and practically worship him. They later became the Sisters of Battle.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Aforementioned Brides Of The Emperor turned on Vandire and beheaded him after their leaders had an audience with their god, the Emperor. They are now known as the Sisters Of Battle.
  • Body Motifs: Eyes and hands are prevalent motifs in this series. Examples are The Eye of Tzeentch, Magnus losing one of his eyes, Ferrus Mannus with his Iron Hands (both literal and his Sons), Rogal Dorn's Imperial Fists and the only relic of him being a severed hand.
  • Bond Creatures: Both natural, in the somewhat obscure Gyrinx, and the various creations serving psykers as Familiars. Tech-Priests' servo skills are sometimes considered this.
  • Boring, but Practical: Or as close to 'boring' as it gets in the setting anyhow... all armies are able to field powerful special troops, amazing heroes and crazy war machines, but you generally cannot win without a good chunk of your army being made up of some variant or another of your standard rank-and-file troops, a fact often referred to as 'Boys before toys'.
    • Special mention should go to lasguns of the Imperial Guard. They are mocked by fans as "flashlights", and compared to Bolters, Melta Guns and Plasma weaponry, they are definitely boring and weak in means of damage. But the sheer economics of this weapon makes it more awesome and practical than any of the weapons mentioned above: They are cheap and easy to produce. They don't need ammunition in the usual sense. Lasguns use changeable batteries that are easy to recharge, and can even recharge themselves in direct sunlight or campfire. And the weapon itself is so easy to handle that anyone can use them. The Price/Performance ratio makes this gun the most awesome weapon of the 41th Millenium, and allows the Imperium to have armies big and versatile enough to protect its vast territories.
    • It is heavily implied that the Heavy Stubber used by the Imperial Guard as an emplacement and pintle-mounted vehicle weapon is actually the M2 Browning, completely unmodified and still in widespread use after thirty-eight thousand years.
    • Speaking of the Imperial Guard, many of their Elite choices (that is, Ogryns, psykers, Sly Marbo) are awesome, but not really that points-efficient, compared to simply bringing more Guardsmen and more tanks.
    • The Rhino transport used by both the Loyalist and Traitor Astartes is without a doubt the most ubiquitous and useful vehicle in the entire 41st Millennium. The Rhino was around during mankind's initial colonisation in the galaxy and has changed little in 10,000 years, it can be constructed on planets with even rudimentary industry and can run on any combustible fuel source, from promethium to coal and wood. The Rhino is also a reliable chassis to all sorts of weaponised permutations - the Predator battle tank, the Whirlwind rocket artillery, and the Vindicator siege gun to name a few. They have a good use gameplay-wise: they get your squad where they need to be when they need to as well as acting as a "tar pit", something to tie up the enemy player's forces (in this case, mobile cover).
    • During the early years of the Great Crusade, the standard-issue Astartes weapon was the volkite charger, which was very much a Martian Death Ray that could punch like a T'au pulse gun and devastate basically any armour. The rapid expansion of the Imperium (and the Astartes legions as the Primarchs were rediscovered) meant the Mars foundries couldn't keep up with demand and so the antiquated bolter (which was cheaper to mass produce and could use a variety of different ammunition types) was brought back into service, relegating volkite weapons to specialist roles. By the time of the 41st Millennium, the technology to produce volkite weaponry has since been lost and the Adeptus Mechanicus zealously guards the few remaining examples.
  • Born Under the Sail: Among the Space Wolves (Basically Space Vikings), Engir Krakendoom's tribe are known for being the best sailors, hunting sea monsters with nothing but oars, harpoons and axes. Their skills translate well when Space Is an Ocean, and so his Company excels at boarding and ship-to-ship combat.
  • Bowdlerization: The game's second edition. Much of the Imperium's nastiness was downplayed or went largely unmentioned. Inquisitors and Imperial Guard Commissars were described as heroic individuals. Commissars even lost the ability to restore unit morale by means of summary execution. These issues were all brutally redressed in the third edition.
  • Brain Food: Space Marines and Tyranid Lictors can gain some of a creature's knowledge by eating its brain.
  • Brain Monster: Several Tyranid creatures, especially those with strong psychic powers, have partially exposed brains.
  • Brainwashed: Liberally used by... well,everyone, really.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Much loved by Chaos. The Imperial Ecclesiarchy also likes to combine heretics with a partial lobotomy, advanced hypnosis, generic brainwashing, combat drugs and cybernetic implants to create Arcoflagellants, Ax-Crazy combat monsters which are often set against their former allies.
  • Breath Weapon: Tyranid bio-plasma, certain daemons and daemonhosts.
  • Broken Masquerade: Since the opening of the Great Rift knowledge about the true nature of the warp has become almost impossible for the Imperium to contain.
  • Broken Pedestal: The Traitor Primarchs. Angron and Mortarian are the exceptions. But that's because they never liked the Emperor in the first place.
    • Jaghatai Khan is arguably this. Shortly after being rediscovered by the Emperor, The Khan's free-willed nature came into conflict with the expectations put upon him by the Emperor. The Khan also took issue with the Emperor's willingness to lie to the populace. His test-tube baby orgin story also did nothing to earn the trust of the Mongolian space giant. That's not to say Jaghatai wasn't loyal. He just has a keen smell for bullshit.
    • Like most Space Marines, Ahriman, first captain of the Thousand Sons Legion, loved his Primarch, Magnus the Red. But after his fellow space marines started to violently transform into Chaos Spawn, a magical mutation everyone thought Magnus cured, Ahriman started to lose faith in his progenitor. This was further expanded when Magnus refused to help defend the Thousand Sons homeworld, Prospero, from the Space Wolves.
    • The spaces marines within the Traitor legions who were still loyal to the Emperor.
    • Shas'O Vior'la Shovah Kais Mont'y, also known as Commander Farsight. Farsight discovered a Hellgate into the Warp,a horrible truth that the ruling caste system, the Ethereals, has tried hide from the masses. After living alone as a hermit, Farsight founded the Farsight Enclaves; A Empire of Tau rebels who strive to fight for the Greater Good without the leadership of the Ethereals.
    • When you live in a Crapsack World like the 40k universe, it wouldn't be hard to start resenting the Imperium and all that it stands for. Many Chaos Cults are created from the frustration of the oppressed working class.
  • Brown Note: Chaos iconography can drive men insane. Chaos daemons are a whole world of horror beyond that.
    • Slaanesh Noise Marines carry a manner of sonic weapons that can amplify their daemonic screams, produce explosive bass notes, or rip a target to shreds from the harmonics.
    • Unaugmented humans viewing primarchs for the first time tend to react... badly. One boy, upon meeting pre-Heresy Lorgar, suffered from vomiting and nightmares for a few weeks. The book describes the phenomenon as sensory overload.
    • To a psyker, a Pariah (someone who has no Warp presence) can serve as this.
    • Tyranid psychic chatter is this both to psykers and to the Warp, effectively jamming any sort of communication or faster-than-light travel.
  • Bug War: Since the First Tyrannic War, the Imperium has been fighting the Tyranids, a vaguely insectoid species of xenos that devour all organic life. It is one of the trickiest enemies the Imperium can fight because they always come in massive Hive Fleets, meaning that numbers are usually on their side and the attrition warfare the Imperial Guard favours works against them. Thankfully the Tyranids absolutely need their Norn Queens and other Synapse Creatures to focus their collective will, and taking out these key organisms turns an organized Hive Fleet into a mob of uncoordinated Tyranids that become easy picking.
  • Bulletproof Vest: The standard Imperial Guardsman is equipped with a flashlight and T-shirt a lasgun and flak vest. Formidable stuff by modern standards, but guess how much good it does in this universe.
    • In an interesting twist, the guardsman's flak armor is the best starting armor of any of the careers in Dark Heresy.
  • Burn the Witch!: Standard government policy, which is more understandable than usually since in this setting the witch can often burn you if you don't burn it.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Played for laughs with grots.
    • Played straight with Imperial Guard as they were Games Workshop's favorite punching bag. Even extended to the players as they got two consecutive underpowered codices with at least half the units being useless and having to (even still) deal with kill points making the Annihilate mission Unwinnable. GW eventually decided to give IG players a break by releasing a codex that was actually good and giving them the lion's share of stuff in Apocalypse. Case in point: meet the business end of a Baneblade. Who's the Butt-Monkey now?
    • Also played straight with Ka'Bandha. Keep in mind that he's a 20-foot-tall Greater Daemon of the Blood God. Yet every time he goes up against the Blood Angels, he just ends up embarrassing himself.
      • On Signus Prime, he broke the legs of Sanguinius, Primarch of the Blood Angels. Except that by doing so, he awoke a dark rage in the Angels, and his forces were soon overrun.
      • At the Siege of Terra, he almost defeated Sanguinius a second time, but the Primarch seized the huge honking demon by the throat and broke his spine. Over his knee.
      • Later, on Khartas. At this point, Sanguinius had been dead for 10,000 years. Ka'Bandha figures he's got it made now. He then gets bodyslammed by the mysterious figure known as the Sanguinor. To death. From orbit.
      • In fairness, it's theorized that the Sanguinor is the ghost of Sanguinius. Not that this helps Ka'Bandha's rep much.
    • The Craftworld Eldar. They are notorious for suffering humiliating defeats and failures despite holding an overwhelming advantage, and any victories they do claim are mostly pyrrhic in nature. Examples include Iyanden's Avatar of Khaine being trampled by Carnifexes note , Wraithlords being slain in one-on-one combat with lowly Sergeants, whole craftworlds being utterly wiped out by a single Zoanthrope, and two Imperial Guard regiments led by an inexperienced commander note  held off the collective forces of two major craftworlds and a large force of Eldar Corsairs. C'mon, they're supposed to be hyper-advanced aliens with psychic powers, yet when said aliens outnumber the flashlight and T-shirt brigade and still lose, it's very grating.
    • The Sisters of Battle now take up the mantle left behind by the Imperial Guard. Seemingly, every time the Sisters appear, they're being horribly slaughtered by the Faction of the Week... when they aren't falling to Chaos, obviously note  or even being slaughtered by their own allies (NOTE: link is NSFW).
    • Deconstructed with the Iron Warriors, who are amongst the most bitter and hateful of all Chaos Space Marines after being treated as the Butt-Monkey of the legions.
  • Buzzing the Deck: Orks are well known for this, it's how they land (landing gear is for sissies). Deff Skwadron takes this a little further than most: when their entire skwadron is undergoing maintenance when they're needed in a fight, they simply turn the planes into impromptu jetbikes.

    C 
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": And occasionally Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit".
  • Came Back Wrong:
    • Urien Rakarth, the Dark Eldar Master Haemonculus, discovered the secret of resurrecting himself so long ago, and has done it so many times, that things have started to go inexplicably wrong with the process. He now tends to come back with a small physical reminder of each previous resurrection, usually additional vestigial limbs growing from his spinal sump. Being an utterly insane genius surgeon, body modifier, peerless torturer, and obsessive experimenter, Urien regards this condition as little more than a fascinating quirk and certainly nothing to get all angsty about. Indeed, Urien is so jaded that he practically collects deaths and looks forward to seeing what new and unusual ways he will come back wrong in next.
    • Necron resurrection protocols teleport damaged units back to their tombs for repair. Necron platforms are over sixty-five million years old, their tech hasn't always weathered the aeons, they get bashed up a lot, and the lords skimped on the quality of their foot soldiers, so Necrons pick up aberrations as they get refurbished: the foot soldiers are barely sentient anymore and describing some lords as "deranged" would be putting it mildly.
    • Craftworld Altansar failed to escape the Eye of Terror during the Fall of the Eldar. It has always been thought long lost until recently, when it emerged from the swirling Eye. However, they have changed: the Eldar of Altansar never remove their helmets and speak only in whispers, causing other Eldar to wonder just what has happened to them.
    • According to a microstory in the Inquisitor rulebook, two of the Inquisition's founders opposed the idea of the Emperor being revived in the wake of the Horus Heresy, because they were afraid that what they brought back wouldn't be the man they once knew. For better or worse, they got their way— he's still stuck on the Golden Throne ten thousand years later.
  • Canine Companion: According to The Regimental Standard, the Imperial Guard will be getting these. Like in the U.S. military, they will outrank their handlers.
    • In the story Iron Snakes, a Drukhari warship crashlands on a primitive Imperial world, the local military is butchered and everything looks bleak, so the leadership invokes an ancient pact with the Iron Snakes, who send... a single Astartes and a hunting dog. It's enough.
  • Canis Latinicus: Conventional rendering of High Gothic; e.g., Adeptus Astartes, Adeptus Mechanicus. "Imperium," however, is an actual Roman word, according to That Other Wiki.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Several older Black Library novels have since become available for reprint, but many of them were written when the setting was in a different place than it currently is. Rather than edit them in a way which might undermine the original story or authorial intent (as they had done in some earlier reprint runs), Black Library instead decided to slap the "Heretic Tomes"note  label on the reprints. This means that the reader should only consider these canon in the most Broad Strokes.
  • Canon Immigrant: Most notable are the Blood Ravens chapter, created whole cloth for the Dawn of War series, who now enjoy a place of prominence in the tabletop's lore.
    • Around the same time, the Rail Rifle was introduced in Fire Warrior for the Tau. Very quickly, rules and models appeared in a White Dwarf article, which were subsequently properly included in the 4th edition Tau Codex.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: ... but you can shoot them in the face. Foul Xenos.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: For the last 15,000-odd years, the Eldar. Slaanesh, the Chaos God of pleasure and excess, is innately tied to the Eldar, and any excess of emotion or pleasure on their part will immediately draw the attention of She Who Thirsts. While the Dark Eldar burn out the souls of their slaves to get around this, Craftworld Eldar instead practice asceticism and self-denial to avoid being eaten. May explain why their "aloof and superior" attitude usually ends up coming off as them just being crabby and spiteful.
  • Captain Ersatz: Lord Solar Macharius is absolutely Alexander the Great in space.
  • Car Fu: Tank Shock.
    • The 5th Edition rules allow you to ram tanks into other vehicles, which can potentially take out several enemies at once.
    • In 8th Edition, any vehicle can charge into melee combat and fight in the same manner as an infantryman. Most of them aren't very good at it, but this can be a useful tactic for tying down units that lose effectiveness when locked in melee combat (like fire support squads and tanks).
  • Card Games: There's been a few actual card games released based on the 40K universe. One could also easily count Second Edition and earlier editions of Epic, which came packaged with a whole dead forest worth of cards, counters, templates and assorted other bits and pieces, sometimes including entire decks for mechanics like the Winds of the Warp or things like the Imperator and Mega-Gargant templates and counters which were entire mini-games in their own right.
  • Cargo Cult: The Imperium of Man combines this with Ancient Astronauts in an interesting fashion, as the overwhelming majority of the technology they use predates the incident that put the Emperor on life-support, and maintenance has become more of a religious ceremony than anything else.

    Ironically, all of the equipment used by the Imperium is kept at optimal efficiency because of all this, since a clean and well-maintained machine is a happy machine, and a happy machine means a happy machine-god. It also means that there's never an issue with poor quality materials being used (although field repairs do happen, which is looked down upon by the Adeptus Mechanicus). The Mechanicus are often depicted as competent engineers despite/because of their mystical approach, who understand the workings of many things and for whom reverse-engineering the rest and discovering the physics responsible is a holy quest for enlightenment.
  • Cast Full of Crazy: Invoked, as each faction is considered completely nuts by at least one other. The Imperium sees Orks as stupid psychopaths and the Eldar and Chaos Legions as hedonistic heretics, the Tau view the humans as crazy for their "defend to the death" mentality, the Eldar view the Tau as naive, and everyone is scared of the Tyranids.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel:
    • Quite averted with Warp travel. Comparatively few Imperial ships have Warp engines and travel time is inconsistent. If the Gellar fields fail during transit for any amount of time, daemons can manifest inside the ship and devour its crew and complement.
    • Tau have a slightly easier time of it, due to their smaller warp presence, but their current warp drives only allow short "dives", so while safer it's comparatively slow (although still far faster than light).
    • The Tyranids have it easy enough: point fleet at star, mess with star's gravity to create an FTL tunnel and ride on in (not to mention the natural disasters this causes often tenderize the local defences).
  • Catchphrase: The Emperor protects!/Death to the False Emperor!/For the Greater Good!/WAAAAGH!/OMNOMNOMNOM!
    • It's worth noting that all the catchphrases are battlecries. And all battlecries are catchphrases (Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!/For the Emperor!/Harriers for the cup!)
  • Cat Girl: You probably wouldn't expect these to show up in a setting as grimdark as Warhammer 40,000, but they do exist. As of the 6th edition, there are cat people serving the Imperium, with fanart and custom armies portraying them, naturally, as Cat Girl Amazon Brigades.
  • The Cavalry: This is the only thing of the Legion of the Damned can do.
  • Cavalry Betrayal:
    • The Dropsite Massacre. When Horus and his legion, along with three allied legions, turned traitor a full seven legions were sent to bring them to justice. The first three legions that made planetfall and attacked the traitors were loyalists; the four that followed them, which were supposed to be their reinforcements, were not.
    • The Inquisition has a nasty tendency of doing this as well. Since they only tend to get involved when Things Man Was Not Meant To Know have surfaced, their typical battleplan goes as follows: Step 1 - Kill the enemy. Step 2 - Kill everyone else.
    • The Grey Knights used to have an Apocalypse formation that invoked this trope. They could only deploy if the enemy had at least one greater daemon or warp rift on the table and if, at any point, there were no longer any Chaos models on the table control of the Grey Knights would transfer to the opposing player and the Grey Knights would immediately begin slaughtering their allies to make sure there were no witnesses (why this couldn't wait until after the battle was over is never satisfactorily explained).
  • Cavalry of the Dead: The Legion of the Damned, a Space Marines chapter that got lost in the Warp and became a bunch of spectral beings. They occasionally emerge from the warp to turn the tide of a battle in favor of the Imperium before disappearing again.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: People often forget that the first edition was a parody. Some feel like it practically is, though.
  • Chainsaw Good: The Imperium, Chaos, Orks, and Eldar all use various types of chainblade weapons.
    • For the Imperium, the chainsword is a ubiquitous close combat weapon, especially among the Space Marines. The Space Wolves are fond of chainaxes, Terminator armor is often equipped with chainfistsnote , the Sisters Repentia use huge two-handed chainswords, and more exotic variants like the chainscythe from Necromunda can be found. These weapons' adamantium teeth have monomolecular edges, all the better to cut through enemy armor, especially since power and force weaponsnote  are in relatively short supply due to the Imperium's technological limitations.
    • Chaos forces, especially Chaos Space Marines, use chain weapons for essentially the same reasons, although theirs are usually much nastier in form and function. Khorne Berserkers wield chainaxes almost exclusively, as their frenzied Attack! Attack! Attack! nature makes them extremely vicious and there's nothing quite like a weapon that can bash your opponent's head in and puree him at the same time, which is why the Space Wolves like them so much also.
    • The Striking Scorpion Aspect Shrine of the Craftworld Eldar specializes in melee combat, and those fighters wield chainswords that are very effective against Space Marine armor. While they could wield psychically-charged weapons, those are usually reserved for Warlocks and Seers, who concentrate more on psyker powers in combat.
    • For Orks, the thought process for using chain weapons is something like "'Ey, what makes a choppa more killy? Put some spinnin' teef on the edge!"
  • The Chains of Commanding: Sergeant Lukas Bastonne of the Cadian Shock Troops probably feels it harder than most on account of his eidetic memory stopping him from ever forgetting the troops he's commanded who have died.
  • Chandler's Law: When in doubt, have another Tyranid/Ork/Chaos/Necron invasion.
  • Character Exaggeration: The Imperial Guard's leaders are generally considered General Rippers who care very little about their troops because We Have Reserves by fans, as well as Commissars being complete sadists who will kill Guardsmen at the drop of a hat. Naturally, the Imperium doesn't encourage death— the 3rd edition 2nd Imperial Guard Codex says itself "A good general does not lead an army to destruction just because he knows it will follow." The Imperium just has lower standards of 'pointless' compared to us.
  • Character Level: The 9th Edition narrative play Crusade rules introduces character levels for units. Known as Ranks, units begin at Battle-ready and go up levels as they gain Experience Points until they become Legendary. Each level after Battle-ready allows the unit to gain a Battle Honour, which can be anything from skills, wargear or artefacts. Additionally, some Battle Honours are limited to certain Ranks (Antiquity Relics can only be taken by Heroic and Legendary characters for example.
  • Chariot Pulled by Cats: Logan Grimnar, the Space Wolves' Chapter Master, rides into battle on an antigrav chariot called Stormrider, pulled by a pair of huge Fenrisian wolves.
  • Chekhov's Gun: During the narrative for the first Vigilus campaign book it is mentioned that Grand Castellan Deinos Agamemnus, the militant ruler of the Mortwald false continent, had an impressive collection of ancient military hardware, including six Deathstrike missiles. In the second book, these Deathstrike missiles are requisitioned by Marneus Calgar to cripple the Abaddon's flagship, the Vengeful Spirit.
  • The Chessmaster: Ongoing manipulation contest between the Chaos god Tzeentch, the C'tan Deceiver, and the Eldar Seers. Chances are any major galactic happening is going to have at least one of them cackling "just as planned."
    • The Emperor is also a likely candidate for this trope, as it is hinted at in several texts that he knew the Horus Heresy would happen and planned for it and all future events leading up to the present and probably beyond so as to (presumably) prepare the galaxy for an ultimately happy fate.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Many products of the game's Early Installment Weirdness suffered this fate as the game moved from the first two editions into Third Edition. The Squats and Zoats are the most well-known victims, but there were others including Robots, Imperial Jetbikes, Space Slann. Subverted for everything, except the Slann, as later edition eventually reintroduce them.
  • Church Militant: The Adepta Sororitas are nuns with power armour and fully automatic microgrenade launchers. When Space Marines betray the Imperium, it's the Adepta Sororitas who get sent in to clean up their mess and wipe out the offenders. They usually succeed, despite being humans with none of the Space Marines' physiological upgrades.
    • This may have something to do with the fact that every Adepta Sororitas army is led by Olga of Kiev-level Canonesses (unless they're on loan to an Inquisitor).
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus is also a church, and one of the few Imperial organisations allowed to operate massive armies and battlefleets.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: Some editions of the game include the 'Instant Death' special rule that represents attacks so powerful that they can kill all but the toughest models with a single hit. The 5th Edition rulebook itself describes the results of such attacks as: "The creature is vaporized, burned to a pile of ash, blasted limb from limb, or otherwise mortally slain in a suitably graphic fashion".
  • Child Soldiers: Yet another way the factions in 40k violate the Geneva Conventions.
    • Space Marines are inducted at 10-14 and become Scouts by 15 at the latest. They have to be inducted that early because puberty interferes with assimilating the implants and children assimilate dogma easier than teenagers.
    • Cadian education and military training are the same thing, and they're typically full soldiers (which requires earning a medal) by some time in their teens, assuming they live that long.
    • Orks incubate in their underground wombs until adolescence and are ready to fight and kill the moment they break the soil.
    • Tyranids are also ready to rip your face off the moment they leave the womb, a fact the Tyranids often take advantage of by firing the wombs at planets.
  • Citadel City: The Imperium has a number of Citadel Planets called Fortress Worlds in lore. They are planets placed near a location of great strategic value and which have been turned into fortresses protected by whole fleets and whose population is its garrison. Of course any settlement on said planets count as a citadel city. The planet of Cadia is one of the most known examples of Fortress Worlds, with three-quarters of its population in the military and whose children are taught to use a weapon before being able to read. However, it is placed on the only way out of the Eye of Terror and as long as it holds, the Nine Traitor Legions cannot harm the rest of the Imperium. It eventually fell though, when the planet was cracked apart under its defenders' feet. They kept fighting.
  • City in a Bottle: Some hive cities get like this.
  • Civil War v. Armageddon:
    • Having gone without the unifying hand of the God-Emperor of Mankind for the ten thousand years since the Horus Heresy, the Imperium of Man has become not so much a single country as a loose association of co-belligerents who end up fighting each other, for reasons that vary from justified to idiotic, almost as often as they fight xenos and Chaos.
    • Most of the galaxy's civilized species, such as humanity, the T'au and the Eldar, spend a considerable amount of their time, effort, resources and lives battling each other in wars born chiefly out of imperialism and simple xenophobia, a process that leaves them divided, weakened and extremely distrustful of each other. This leaves them particularly vulnerable to much more powerful threats and factions that cannot be negotiated with, such as the hordes of the Orks, the daemons of Chaos and the seemingly infinite Horde of Alien Locusts of the Tyranids, all of which would stand a good chance of wiping everybody else out even if the civilized races were willing to cooperate with one another. A few characters or factions recognize that cooperation is likely necessary for their survival, but they tend to be few, far between and not especially likely to be listened too.
    • In a moral inversion, the forces of Chaos are always at each other's throats in a four-way Forever War, but on occasion they can work together to prevent their collective defeat. The most notable case occurs during the Emperor's time on Terra, when he creates the twenty primarchs to lead the armies of humanity across the stars with the firm intention of preventing any Chaos worship under his rule. The Chaos gods arrange for the superhuman infants to end up on different planets, where they are raised in the local culture, shaping their characters accordingly (and leaving half of them more susceptible to Chaos). This eventually allows the Chaos-corrupted primarchs (with Horus bearing the blessings of all four gods) to lead a rebellion that ensures the galaxy is a Grimdark nightmare more than ten millenia later.
  • Civil Warcraft: Absolutely everywhere.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe:
    • Adeptus Mechanicus rituals appear like this to the casual in-universe observer. Tech-priests on the other hand are taught genuine mechanical skills, just in an odd and highly-ritualised way. Maintenence operations often include what appears to be unnecessary prayers, which may actually be machine control codes, timing routines, or mnemonic devices. Part of it may be due to machines having actual spirits and not just prepping the auto-systems of the Land Raider before things get worse. note 
    • Ork tech is more likely to work if enough Orks are around to believe that it will. If the Orkish consensus is that a red paint job makes a trukk go faster, then it goes faster after they slap enough red paint on it. Depending on the Writer this can range from "Ork Shootas never jamming in their hands" to "everything they make is scrap metal held together solely by them thinking that it works". It's more likely that the Orks have natural instincts to build things and their psychic gestalt covers the defects.
  • Clash of Evolutionary Levels: Invoked as the justification for Civil Warcraft for Tyranids (the other factions not really needing a reason to turn on each other): Tyranid fleets, being driven by an urge to consume everything they see and get the most adaptations out of it, will attack each other so that the fleet best suited for combat survives, the loser's adaptations and biomass serving the winner.
  • Clever Crows:
    • Two heroic Space Marine Chapters named themselves after ravens, the Raven Guard and the Blood Ravens. The Raven Guard are noted for emphasis on speed and tactical strikes (their Primarch was Corvus Corax, a contender for the least subtle Theme Naming in all 40K), and the Blood Ravens for valuing and seeking out knowledge and having many Librarians in their ranks.
    • The giant ravens of Kiavahr, the former chapter's homeworld, are intelligent enough to set traps and hunt Space Marine Chaplains who consider bringing their skulls home a point of honor.
    • The Chaos God Tzeentch has an association with corvids as well. One of his titles is the Raven God, and his Greater Daemons resemble large antropopmorphic birds. Such Greater Daemons are among the greatest psykers in the galaxy.
  • Clingy Costume:
    • Chaos Obliterators are fused with their armor and weapons.
    • Chaos Helbrutes are similar, fashioned out of any usable metals and a suitable Marine to be forced into the machine that slowly becomes a living body of it's own.
    • Eldar Exarchs can't remove their armor once they've bonded enough with the spirits of their armour's previous wearers.
    • The souls of the rank and file Thousand Sons are trapped inside their power armor. They are called "Rubricae" after the Rubric of Ahriman that turned their bodies to dust.
    • Some Orks, only caring about war, will often pay the tribe's mekboy and painboy to have themselves sealed in a suit of mega armour. If that's not far enough, they can also be sealed inside a Deff Dread, a crude mini mecha. Gretchins are made into Killa Kanz who then proceeds to tear ass around the camp until it's taken down by a bigger Ork. Deff Dread pilots soon learn that it's much less a blessing at first glance while Gretchins are just happy to bully others around.
    • In times past, it was said that Khorne Berserkers' armour fused with their flesh, to the point that it would bleed when struck.
    • Chaos Marines who survive long enough can start having their power armour slowly bond with their bodies to varying degrees, thanks to the Warp. This has been described as thousands of small hooks finding purchase within their flesh.
  • Clone Army:
    • Many of the Adeptus Mechanicus's Skitarii are grown in vats, or at least their organic components are.
    • Depending on the Writer, the Death Korps of Krieg may all be clones of the exact same guy, a fact they hide from outsiders by wearing gas masks everywhere.
    • The vast majority of Dark Eldar are tank-grown, with those born naturally being referred to as 'Trueborn' and their rarity granting them a position of prominence within their Kabal. Given the dangers inherent with Eldar reproduction (see Can't Have Sex, Ever above), it's believed the Craftworld Eldar employ similar methods of population upkeep. And since all Eldar are either pressed into service as Guardians or Kabalite Warriors...
  • Clothes Make the Maniac: Chaos-corrupted suits of armour. Granted, in most cases this is more a case of Clothes Make the Maniac Worse.
  • Coat, Hat, Mask:
    • Commissars, although most don't wear masks. Gas masks on the other hand...
    • Similarly, the Armageddon Steel Legion and the Death Korps of Krieg are Coat Helmet (Gas) Mask.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Most typical of the Inquisition — the torturers of other races usually have far too much fun to be called cold-blooded.
    • Interrogator-Chaplains of the Dark Angels and descendants. There's a reason they're named that. Especially be careful of the ones with many black pearls.
    • The Night Lords legion has a special fondness for this.
  • Cold Sniper: Vindicare Temple Assassins pack rifles and ammunition that let them take out tanks from absurd distances.
  • The Collector of the Strange: Chaos, the Orks, and the Dark Eldar collect the skulls (and occasionally other body parts) of their enemies as trophies. The Imperium collects the skulls of particularly pious servants for use as relics and Attack Drones.
    • Trazyn the Infinite collects items, people, and small locales of particular historic value. He take this trope almost to Supervillainous levels.
    • The Blood Ravens also collect artifacts of historical note, including weapons and wargear. Fandom takes it a few degrees further in terms of "collecting" items.
  • Colony Drop: Deconstructed, if you can believe it, but also used straight on occasion. "In close consultation with his advisors, Orkimedes determined that the best solution to the tactical flexibility of Imperial forces was to drop big rocks on them." A surprisingly common Ork technique to both deploy close to the enemy [in fact on top of a portion of them] and weaken aforementioned enemy.
  • Colour Coded Armies: Space Marine chapters, Chaos Space Marine legions, Eldar craftworlds, Ork klanz, Tyranid hive fleets, Necron tomb worlds, Tau septs: practically every major army has a set of color-coded subdivisions, and many of these have associated composition themes and stereotypes. Only the Imperial Guard defy color-based pigeonholing, and even they have certain color schemes they tend to favor.
    • Space Marines especially; many chapters feel that adding camouflage patterns to their armor would be "dishonoring the colors of the chapter," and intentionally dress in bright and highly-visible colors so that their enemy can see them and quake in terror at their approach.
    • Eldar are colour coded to the extreme. Not only does each army have their own colour schemes, but each DIFFERENT KIND of soldier has their own colours: orange for Fire Dragons, green for Striking Scorpions, blue for Dire Avengers, and so on...
    • Within most Space Marine chapters, Librarians traditionally wear blue armor, Techmarines wear deep red, Chaplains wear black, and Apothecaries wear white. Most chapters' specialists will wear their chapter's color on their shoulder pad.
  • Combat Aestheticist:
    • The Thyrrus, a minor insectoid alien species, view war as a performance. They'll always seek heavy casualties on both sides, with lots of flash and spectacle. Their extremely advanced plasma-based weapons reflect this.
    • Lucius the Eternal is known to get extremely excited (and much better at fighting) on meeting a Worthy Opponent, but against Mooks, he enters a state akin to lethargic boredom.
  • Combat Medic: Space Marine Apothecaries, Ork Painboyz, and pretty much anyone else with a medkit or the equivalent.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Tau provide a Subversion. True, they may not believe in meatgrinder assaults and pointless Last Stands, but they avoid defending ground or melee combat. note 
    • During the Great Crusade, Horus' forces ran into an alien race who had codified the art of war by having armies meet in huge arenas to prevent the loss of life. When the time came for battle, the humans were bemused to see the slaughterhouses half-filled with warriors, all looking to the sky. Horus quickly ordered a planetary bombardment from orbit.
    • The Iron Warriors are siege specialists - and the guiding rule of siege warfare is "whatever works, works". While they'll usually bring the big guns to bear no matter what, they'll also happily use infiltration, cannon fodder (including captured enemy troops loaded into expendable vehicles manned by suicide cultists), spies, traitors, secret passages, and other, far less pleasant means to crack open the fortifications and kill everyone inside.
    • Deconstructed by the Night Lords, who lack the conviction and valour of the other Astartes and so are a bunch of smug, cowardly bullies who love terrorising civilians and Guardsmen but fare horribly against foes like the Loyalist Astartes or the Eldar Aspect Warriors who aren't deterred by their terror tactics.
  • Combat Stilettos: See for yourself.
  • Combat Tentacles:
    • Tyranids mount these on everything from mooks to spaceships.
    • The Slaaneshi weapon aptly named "Lash of Torment".
  • Comes Great Insanity: A rich tradition among leadership figures within the Imperium, from Horus to High Lord Vandire. Generally, reforms follow in their wake to stop similar incidents happening. For example, after the Horus Heresy, the Space Marine Legions were divided into smaller Chapters. In the case of Vandire, no-one was ever allowed to become both the head of the Administratum and the Ecclesiarchy again. And the Ecclesiarchy couldn't keep men-at-arms. Which they got around.
  • Comically Inept Healing: The closest thing Orks have to doctors are Mad Doks, who frequently experiment on their patients. These range from having weapons grafted on to having your brain swapped with a squig's.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Space Marines - Elitist/Generalist. Marines are fairly expensive points-wise and have great staying power compared to most basic infantry. They're also solid in whatever role they're put in: Marines are good shots, and they're not half bad in an assault, either. Space Marine tanks may not be as robust or as powerful as those of the Imperial Guard's, but they are dirt-cheap, reliable and often more mobile and versatile. Whatever an enemy army’s weakness is, Space Marines have something that can exploit it, but nearly every other army does their particular schtick better than Space Marines.
    • Astra Militarum - Spammer, Brute or Generalist (depending on whether they use mostly infantry, mostly vehicles or a combined arms approach, respectively)/Technical. They emphasize regular Joes generally coming in underequipped and in huge numbers alongside an ungodly number of vehicles of all stripes ranging from light walkers to heavy battle tanks, and leadership abilities most other armies can only be jealous of as well as the Orders system to confer various bonuses to units. Imperial Guard is an easy to learn, difficult to master army with a variety of options and tactics which at the same time never overwhelm.
    • Adeptus Mechanicus - Balanced/Unit Specialist. They have some of the most advanced technology of any human faction, and most of their units are specialized for a single role. Despite this, their generalist units are still some of the best in the game.
    • Adeptus Custodes - Elitist/Generalists, like a much more extreme version of the Space Marines, with even their basic troops being immensely powerful.
    • Tau Empire - Balanced/Ranger. The Tau are the best army for shooting in the entire game, hands down, capable of out-ranging other armies and blasting them to kingdom come with devastating precision firepower long before they can close for melee. Which is good, because the Tau are the worst army for melee - even the lowly Imperial Guardsmen can expect to beat them in a slugging match, and the Kroot are quite poor in comparison to dedicated melee in other armies. Tau forces also have a number of options for stealth and rapid deployment, and have decent mobility too, but they completely lack psykers and a counter for them barring a single special item unique to Farsight Enclave armies.
    • Asuryani - Elitist/Specialist/Guerilla/Technical. Eldar are generally deadly but very fragile, relying on exceptional mobility and good use of cover to stay alive. The army is comprised of a variety of hyper-specialised infantry with near-universal access to Fleet and high morale, with a few "all-rounder" units to plug tactical gaps. They also have a lot of sneaky units that can infiltrate or outflank an enemy to strike from an unexpected quarter, and they have one of the strongest psychic supports in the game. Their vehicles tend towards Lightning Bruiser, being skimmers with devastating weapons, but these are very expensive and often left outgunned.
    • Drukhari - Elitist/Ranger/Specialist. These intergalactic raiders are exceedingly fragile, even moreso than their Craftworld brethren, with infantry possessing little staying power and skimmer vehicles vulnerable to even small-arms fire. However the Dark Eldar possess some of the fastest-moving units in the entire game, combined with a deadly arsenal of poison and morale-sapping weapons; excellent at shooting and decent at close combat too. Reliant on a player with a good grasp of what their units can and cannot do and with a daring and aggressive tactical style, they are widely considered to be the hardest army in the game to play properly, but very formidable in the right hands.
    • Orks - Brute/Spammer. Orks are overall one of the most effective close combat armies in the entire game, and also one of the most numerous, able to flood the table with large squads at a mercifully low points cost. Ork shooting is unfortunately abysmally inaccurate, though their sheer numbers can compensate for this. Orks also field a surprisingly large amount of big guns to provide long range fire support for da Boyz, and even have a degree of psyker power, though their unique discipline is primarily offensive in nature. Like the Imperial Guard, the Orks are quite forgiving of mistakes and fun to play, and thus a good first army to learn the game with.
    • Necrons - Elitist/Brute. Their infantry are supremely durable, capable of rising back up after being destroyed, and can pack either specialized anti-infantry weaponry or general purpose weaponry capable of threatening both infantry and vehicles. Necrons have a good selection of powerful elites and HQ choices, with solid special characters. However, their low initiative and small number of attacks can make them suffer in close combat, especially against overwhelming numbers. They have no psykers either, but they do at least have a way to shut down psyker powers. Necrons are quite powerful, but overall they can be tactically predictable.
    • Tyranids - Can vary between a Spammer and an Elitist faction based on whether more, bigger 'nids ("Nidzilla") or hordes of the little bastards come out. Usually uses a mix of both, with the hordes' sheer numbers tearing apart the enemy while the big guys come in at the end to clean up what's left. Tyranids are generally tactically flexible with a lot of possible approaches to building an army, and they have a fairly extensive psychic toolbox to work with too, giving them elements of Technical as well. The Tyranids are let down by somewhat lackluster shooting, complex and often highly situational rules, and a fairly crippling weakness to poison weapons.
    • Heretic Astartes - Balanced/Specialist. The Marines elements of the army play quite similarly to their Loyalist cousins, with superior close combat ability and psyker support. These superior traitor Marines come with a number of highly customisable and versatile "troubleshooter" units ranging from mobs of cultists to monstrous daemon engines, with some very good options of their own. Their vehicle list is not quite as varied as the loyalist Marines, but the vehicles they do have tend to be more powerful. The CSM do however sacrifice some of the loyalists' more powerful special weapons and rules, morale bonuses, and tactical flexibility - they cannot infiltrate or deepstrike like the loyalists can.
    • Chaos Daemons - Spammer/Technical. Daemons tie with Tyranids with sheer amount of bodies and Monstrous Creatures they can put on the field. Unless you actively shy away from it, no other army, except maybe the Grey Knights, can rock the Psychic phase as hard as you can. Their units are generally stronger point for point than other units, but their unusual deployment type requires careful thinking when used, and their low Toughness and Daemonic Instability make them die very quickly if not managed carefully.
    • Renegades and Heretics - Spammer/Generalist. Basically a Chaos version of the Imperial Guard, nearly everything is relatively cheap and have great diversity and customisation provided by the abundance of options.
  • Commie Nazis: The Imperium mostly resembles the Third Reich: xenophobic, aggressively expansionistic, with a penchant for genocide and open contempt for "weak" notions such as peace, freedom or tolerance. The mind-numbing bureaucracy, on the other hand, is one hundred percent Soviet. And then there's the Imperial Guard Commissars...
  • Commissar: Fielded by the Imperial Guard in all their CommieNazi Bling of War (including the black and silver Commissar Cap). Their job is to inspire the Guardsmen under them with propoganda, riveting speeches, and battlefield bravado, but they also mete out harsh discipline, shooting the sloppy, the heretical, and the cowardly without mercy. In fifth edition they will summary execute the squad's leader if the squad fails a leadership test; when assigned to command squads this can cause much more harm than good.
  • Commissar Cap: Trope Namer, and not entirely restricted to Commissars — a few regular regular officers and the odd Inquisitor wear similar hats, and some Orks love looting them.
    • In fact, Nork Deddog, a (comparatively) super intelligent Ogryn bodyguard was rewarded a Commissar Cap.
  • Concepts Are Cheap: "The Greater Good" of the Tau is never explained, leaving the reader to fill in the details about what it is.
  • Confusion Fu: Chaos has this as their hat. There is only a 66% for any given piece to actually start the game on the board. This, and may other factors makes the Chaos faction the bane of any laid down plan from EITHER player.
    • A lot of armies practice this in one way or another, but from a more meta perspective many players do as well. For example, when young children get into the hobby, they often get a load of units that they think look cool (like the half-naked women wielding chainsaw greatswords) but don't really have much idea what they're meant for or what they're capable of. Other player may cobble together wonky new lists, or deliberately try to baffle you.
  • Continuity Nod: Forge World, Games Workshop's daughter company that specializes in producing resin miniatures for collectors and hardcore fans, has released a number of Space Marine miniature conversion packs designed to evoke the feel of old 1st and 2nd Edition models using the modern kits. Examples include the Land Raider Proteus (designed to evoke the old Land Raider model from Rogue Trader), the MkIc Deimos-Pattern Rhino (designed to resemble the 1st and 2nd Edition Space Marine Rhino, with its round smokestacks and dual bolters), and various special and heavy weapon packs crammed full of old-school guns.
  • Continuity Snarl: 40k is infamous among sci-fi nerds for just how inconsistent it is with numbers. In some works, the Imperium is said to have a million world. In others, the Imperium has a billion. In some works, losing millions of Guardsmen is a great loss. In others, losing a billion soldier for every objective taken is a glorious victory. It doesn't help that GW makes it an official policy to considers everything canon regardless of how inconsistent it is unless stated otherwise.
  • Cool Bike: Examples include the enormous combat motorcycles ridden by Space Marines (particularly the White Scars); the enormous spiky combat motorcycles ridden by Chaos Marines (particularly Doom Rider); the enormous, ramshackle, and very loud combat motorcycles ridden by Orks (particularly Wazdakka Gutzmek); the flying combat motorcycles ridden by Eldar (particularly the Shining Spears); and the ridiculously fast flying combat motorcycles ridden by Dark Eldar (particularly... err, only the Reavers).
  • Cool Starship:
    • The Imperium routinely uses millennia-old kilometres-long battle cathedrals in space.
    • Eldar Craftworlds are massive Generation Ships the size of dwarf planets, and hundreds of thousands of Eldar live comfortably on them. Also, Prince Yriel's personal ship, the Flame of Asuryan, is an Ace Custom Eldar Dragonship that serves him well as a pirate vessel. In fact, Eldar ships in general.
    • Necron vessels are just as badass. A few of their cruisers managed to sneak through Imperium space and threaten Terra itself. One even landed on Mars, which is probably the second most heavily defended planet in the Imperium. Notably, the Cairn-class Tombship, which is bigger and tougher than any human space cathedral, and carries a weapon which can Mind Rape the crews of said space cathedrals from thousands of miles away.
    • In stark contrast to the rusty, ancient space-borne cathedrals of the Imperium, the spaceships of the Tau Kor'vattra are sleek, shiny and every bit as advanced as they look. A notable example is the Custodian-class carrier, which is bristling with railgun and ion cannon batteries and contains launch bays for Manta dropships and Barracuda bombers.
    • The Phalanx is as large as a moon, and is the battle barge of the Imperial Fists.
    • Warmaster Abbadon's flagship is named "Planet Killer". Guess why.
  • Cool Plane:
    • The Thunderhawk gunship. Capable of functioning as a drop ship, a bomber or a ground attack vehicle, the Thunderhawk is the workhorse of the Space Marines, able to deliver up to 30 Space Marines into battle while also raining support fire onto enemy forces with their own deadly armament. It also has heavy ceramite armour, making it able to take as good as it dishes out.
    • The Imperial Guard Valkyrie. Armed with a Multi-laser and two Hellstrike missiles, while also able to deliver 12 Guardsmen to their target. Not as strong as the Thunderhawk, but as with many things in the Imperial Guard, the quantity more than makes up for the quality, and the Valkyrie can be upgraded with a number of amazing options. The Vendetta gunship swaps out the troop transport space for extra missiles and bolter gun emplacements, and swaps the multi-laser for three deadly lascannons, making it an unrivalled tank hunter.
      • What about the Imperial Navy Lightning? An air-superiority jet bristling with autocannons, lascannons and missiles. Its armament combined with its deceptive speed and agility make it a peerless dogfighter.
    • Move aside, mon'keigh. The Eldar Nightwing deserves a special mention for coolness. Faster and more manoeuvrable than anything in the skies, in one campaign a mere four Nightwings accounted for the destruction of 66 Chaos Helltalon fighters. Without taking a single loss. Also, unlike the crude, boxy-looking Imperial planes, the Nightwing looks like "something Batman would fly" in the words of one reviewer.
    • The Tau Razorshark Strike Fighter. Apart from the awesome name, the Razorshark is far more powerful and technologically advanced than any crude Imperial fighter. Its dual anti-gravity drive and jet propulsion system allow the craft to turn on a dime, and it possesses the ability to house interceptor drones.
    • Da Ork Fighta-Bommer. While admittedly no match for an Imperial, Tau or Eldar aircraft, the Fighta-Bommer remains a versatile and effective combat aircraft. Described as massive engines with a load of guns strapped to them, no two Fighta-Bommers are the same, with Meks constantly seeking to experiment and one-up each other with the latest designs. The Deff Skwadron have achieved near-mythical status for their impressive kill tallies and (relative) longevity.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: *Sighs, and unfurls a long list*
    • 8-foot tall, bioengineered giants in Powered Armor with chainsaw swords and rifles that shoot .75 calibre explosive shells!
    • Amazon Brigade Bodyguard Babes Joan of Arc-wannabes, also with chainsaw swords and explody shooting, but also with lots of flamethrowers!
    • 8-foot tall, bioengineered giants in Powered Armor with chainsaw swords and rifles that shoot .75 calibre explosive shells that are also daemon-worshipping psychopaths with Lovecraftian Superpowers.
    • Ancient Greek/Celtic/Japanese feudal space elves with psychic powers and guns that shoot razor floss!
    • Sexy Jester/Monster Clown ninja space elves with razor-floss punch daggers, hallucenogen gas grenades and acrobatic skills to make Cirque du Soleil look like a bunch of drunken idiots!
    • Evil, soul-eating, Aztec space pirate elves who fly through space on Chinese junks alongside Frankenstein's monsters and crackwhore gladiators in bikinis!
    • Egyptian undead zombie robots with guns that disintegrate matter who long ago defeated their own star-eating gods and now treat them like Pokémon!
    • Fungal-based Football Hooligan orcs rampaging through the galaxy on a giant pub crawl because fighting everything is bloody good fun!
    • Chinese/Japanese communist grey aliens with anime mecha-suits and Maori velociraptor-men tribal mercenaries!
    • Xenomorph Xerox alien locusts guided by a galaxy-devouring intelligence so terrifying it would make H. P. Lovecraft go on a week-long mental breakdown!
    • World War II-era human soldiers with laser rifles, Four Star Badasses and tanks the size of city blocks!
    • A machine-worshipping Cargo Cult with armies of lobotimised cyborgs, Fallout-style combat robots and Humongous Mecha!
  • Corralled Cosmos: Beyond the light of the Astronomican warp travel becomes effectively impossible for the Imperium. That would be good enough for any other setting but with 40k being what it is the light of the Astronomican is fading, meaning humanity's corral is shrinking.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: It's a universe where even death won't save you from an eternity of torture.
  • Cosmic Keystone: Humanity is this for the Chaos Gods. They were created and are fueled by strong emotions and collective psychic energy of sapient beings. If Humanity were to go extinct, the Chaos Gods would cease to be; all perhaps except for Slaanesh, who was born from the psychic energy of the Aeldari and Drukhari.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Humanity: we're something of a favorite species to mess with for the Chaos Gods, and pretty much everything wants to kill us for some reason, or no reason. The Eldar might also qualify, nearly getting wiped by Slaanesh, and always facing threats from everything else including the Imperium. Probably most everyone might fit into this except for the Tau, if only because they haven't been around long enough to. (It is suspicious, though, how they were able to evolve faster than possible while their planet was isolated by a warp storm.)
  • Costume Porn: The amount of accessories on a miniature would astound you.
  • Crapsack World: Every sentient race, including the gods, is made up of terrible people and is doomed. The 40K universe is so much of a crapsack that a new word, "Grimdark", was needed to explain how bleak the setting is. Bizarely enough, it's often zigzagged in the expanded universe. Ciaphas Cain reveals plenty of worlds that experience modern amenities of living (provided they're not being attacked by Orks/Tyranids/Eldar/Chaos/Necrons/whatever), even talking about a very active tourist industry. Gaunt's Ghosts shows brave men fighting to save their empire. And Word of God is that a lot of the sources of Grimdark are either propaganda or atrocities far apart.
  • Creepy Twins:
  • Creepy Monotone: Necron Lords, and techpriests of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Servitors are independently creepy and monotonous.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Many warriors keep skulls of their slain enemies, some in shrines, some carried around with them.
  • Crippling Overspecialisation:
    • This was deliberately done to the regiments of the Imperial Guard to make their lives harder if an officer and their soldiers decide to go rogue.
    • The Shadowsword needs to turn off it's engine in order to use it's signature Volcano Cannon or it won't be moving at all. Which basically turns it into an sitting duck as it tries to snipe an Titan.
    • Meta-example; the Tyranids always had a gimmick of large, powerful Monstrous Creatures with high Toughness scores and multiple wounds. In come the Dark Eldar with their new codex full of mass poisoned (Toughness-ignoring) shots and weapons with the Instant Death rule, and...
  • Critical Existence Failure: Zigzagged. Most multi-wound models can perform at full capacity until they lose their last Wound. However, since the 8th Edition, some of the larger Vehicles and Monsters have several profiles with some characteristics like Movement or Attacks decreasing as the model loses wounds, representing the injuries piling up and crippling the model further and further.
  • Critical Failure: Imperial plasma technology is powerful but unstable and has a problem with explosively overheating. In-game, the "Gets Hot" rule covers this: models shooting plasma weapons take a wound on a To Hit roll of 1 and have to make their armor save, which is usually lethal for that model if the save is failed.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Ecclesiarchy is a Torquemada-era Roman Catholic Church in space, with the Emperor as its god. Oddly enough, the Inquisitors are not a religious institution, functioning more as State Sec.
  • Cthulhumanoid: Tyranid Lictors come with feeder tendrils by default, and they're an option for many other Tyranid units.
  • Cult: Plenty serving Chaos, and plenty of others devoted to the Emperor. At least one devoted to Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!
  • Culture Police:
    • The Inquisition and Adeptus Arbites are pretty laid-back about culture, so long as planets revere the Emperor and pay tribute to the Imperium. However, if they see anything that could possibly be interpreted as a sign of Chaos, the purge will be swift and without mercy— and not all Inquisitors agree on what constitutes a sign of Chaos.
    • The Tau are all about this trope, even before their grimdark revision. All Tau (and their allies) must work, fight, and live for the Greater Good. Deviation lands you in a concentration camp. The Tau do not see it this way, though. According to the novelization of Fire Warrior, they see imprisonment-as-punishment as an (ironically) alien concept. Those who deviate from the right and just path are poor misguided people worthy of sympathy and help. If said sympathy and help involves some "tough love" in a re-education facility then so be it.
  • Curse That Cures: The whole point of worshipping Nurgle. If you are already covered in diseases and rotting flesh, you can't get old, and you won't feel pain. You also have the patronage of the only kind god in the entire galaxy.
  • Custom Uniform: Many examples for minor characters and squad leaders, such as Imperial Guard commissars and techpriests, and Eldar warlocks.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: The differences in power between beings are drastically diminished in the actual tabletop game compared to the fluff — don't expect those greater daemons to kill whole worlds or the space marines to be a One-Man Army... or those lasguns to punch through concrete.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Servitors, and most Adeptus Mechanicus magi. Possibly literal in the case of certain Necrons.
    • Also Chaos Marines interred inside Dreadnaughts tend to go... a little mad.
    • Possibly literally in the case of the Adeptus Mechanicus. If the Void Dragon is beneath Mars, then it slowly eats the souls of those who replace their bodies with cybernetics. More cybernetics means more of the soul eaten.
    • The Obliterator Virus transforms Chaos Marines into a horrific amalgamation of metal and guns fused together with flesh and bone. Insanity is just the cherry on top.
    • If you're a vehicle pilot and you become a traitor, you'll suffer the horrific fate of being absorbed and permanently bound to your ride for all eternity. A pretty good example of this is to look at what happened to the Traitor Titan Pilots.
  • Cyberpunk: Many hive worlds tend towards this. The Gaiden Game Necromunda is a good example of the aesthetic.
  • Cyborg: While there are "realistic" bionics, senior Mechanicus adepts often approach full-body conversion in their attempts to remove every trace of "weak flesh".
    • A more horrifying example are the servitors, catch-all machine-slaves in use for almost every imaginable purpose by the Imperium. After the events of the Dark Age of Technology, when the Iron Men rebelled against their human creators and nearly wiped out humanity in the process, true Artificial Intelligence was forbidden, ruling out the use of robots. Instead, the mechanicum uses "Machine Spirits" for larger vehicles and humans who have been lobotomized and upgraded with cybernetics (the servitors) for less critical tasks.
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  • The Dark Side: Somewhat predictably, the setting takes this trope and hurls it off the deep end in the form of Chaos. The result? There's no Light Side — only a sort of Gray Side, and the actual Dark Side is sentient, extremely intelligent, masterfully manipulative, very powerful, and occasionally takes matters into its own hands when mortal pawns aren't getting the job done.
  • Data Pad: Whether Guard officers use "dataslates" or quills and parchment seems to depend on the writer.
    • Given the faded and forgotten supertech that underpins much of the Imperium, it's entirely possible that the (items that look like) quills and parchment are the more advanced option, again depending on the writer.
  • Days of Future Past: Feudal or Oligarchal planetary government is the order of the day in most of the Imperium.
  • Deadly Doctor: Mad Doks and Apothecaries are fully qualified and lethal combatants with their medical equipment.
    • Taken to extremes with the Terminator and Ravenwing Apothecaries of the Dark Angels. The former can take a missile launcher, Lightning Claws, or a Thunder Hammer. The latter is mounted on a bike with Flamethrower or Plasma Gun options.
      • Most Apothecaries do not display their role prominently, and thus they rather represent Combat Medic trope brought to its logical conclusion.
  • Deadly Environment Prison: The old Dark Eldar codex mentioned that slaves pens in Comorragh don't have walls to keep the slaves in. They can leave any time they want...and wander out into the Dark City where they're likely to suffer an even worse fate.
  • Dead Man's Switch: The facilities imprisoning a planet's psykers before they can be carted off to Terra usually have one. In case of any trouble, all held psykers are instantly gassed. Considering how much trouble "any trouble" can evolve to when you deal with several hundreds of untrained and unsanctioned psykers, this can be considered a wise precaution...
  • Death from Above: Jump infantry of every shape and size (half a ton of armoured super soldier approaching your face at terminal velocity, anyone?), Space Marine Drop Pods, Tyranid mycetic spores, Tau Mantas, and Ork roks.
  • Death Glare: Common in the artwork.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: General Imperial Guard tactics — point enough "flashlights" at something and it should go down.
  • Death-or-Glory Attack: The Trope Namer is this game's Death or Glory Attack, a called maneuver in which a unit stands in the path of a charging enemy vehicle to squeeze a good shot off. Success means one-shotting a large enemy tank. Failure means you go squish.
  • Death Ray: Rays which cause death, rays which fire death, rays which eat death, and rays which are fired by Death.
  • Death Seeker: The Dreadnoughts of the Imperium are mortally wounded Space Marines kept on life support inside giant walkers. Referred to as "dead," they are typically honored to keep serving the Emperor. Chaos Dreadnoughts, on the other hand, feel trapped inside their walking tombs —the majority of them are incurably insane (even by Chaos standards), and prone to tearing friend and foe alike to pieces. The Defiler tank was actually created to fill the role that Dreadnoughts become too unstable to hold down once tainted.
    • The Sisters of Battle's Penitent Engines, used only on people who have committed awful crimes (or are alleged to have committed them, anyway). You're strapped in and forced to look at images of your crimes 24/7. When the battle comes, you're told that death in battle will absolve you. Of course, they're also given 2 Heavy Flamers and a pair of Dreadnought Close Combat weapons, so they can also repent by killing everything in their paths.
    • In a horrifyingly perverted sense, Lucius the Eternal. Being a worshipper of Slaanesh, Lucius sees death as just another experience, especially when he's bested by a greater swordsman. What's different from other death seekers is that Lucius's death is not permanent, and he knows this. Whoever kills him ends up horribly mutating into him, a fact which he takes great delight in.
  • Death Trap: The Primarch of the Iron Warriors, Perturabo, is a master of deathtraps of all kinds. Tasked by the Emperor with the dirtiest, most unforgiving and unrewarding jobs during the Great Crusade, Perturabo not only became a master of defense and siege warfare, but also became a bitter soldier, disillusioned with the Emperor, and possibly suffers from PTSD. In his anger, Pert became quite creative and sadistic in fortress building, particularly setting up traps. His magnum opus is The Eternal Fortress, a labyrinth of landmines, inward facing auto turrets, and plenty of places to get ambushed. When Perturabo fled following Horus Heresy, Rogal Dorn followed suit. Blinded by vengeance, Rogal and his Imperial Fist legion followed his Traitor brother to the Eternal Fortress, swearing he would bring him back to Terra in an "Iron Cage". It ended in a blood bath. When the Imperial Fists were on the verge of annihilation, the Ultramarines swooped in and turned the tide of battle.
  • Death World: This is the official term used by the Imperium to designate Single Biome Planets of this description. They're depressingly common, but any native populations are automatically prime recruiting stock for the Imperial Guard or Space Marines — indeed, several such planets were colonized specifically to provide badass soldiers for the Imperium's armies. Rogue Trader characters who hail from a Death World get some serious stat bonuses, because even the biggest wimp from that planet still survived to adulthood on a world seemingly crafted to kill them. Some examples are:
    • Catachan, a jungle world where nearly every animal there is said to be a carnivore, and so are the plants, the majority of the microbes, fungi, and viruses. Wildlife includes the Catachan Barking Toad, a "jumpy" critter that detonates into a cloud of toxins that kills everything within a kilometer radius if you startle it, and the Catachan Devil, a cross between a scorpion and centipede the size of a train which is thought to be related to the Tyranids. Plus needle-shooting plants that turn any of their victims into more such plants. Every settlement fights a daily battle to keep its structures from being reclaimed by the vegetation, feral Orks breed in the deepest parts of the jungle, and on top of everything else the planet's gravity is slightly higher than normal. Living past the age of ten on such a planet is considered an achievement akin to graduating from boot camp, making the Catachan Jungle Fighters legendary among the regiments of the Imperial Guard.
    • Fenris, a world that is exclusively Grim Up North. Its elliptical orbit takes twice as long as Terran standard, which means its long winters freeze almost the entire planet, while its summers bring lava flows and tidal waves as the world passes close to its sun. The land is constantly changing, making permanent settlement impossible, and its resources are so meager that its population must war amongst itself to survive. Other claims to fame include kraken, dragons, and wolves the size of tanks. The Space Wolves wouldn't have their homeworld any other way.
    • The Blood Angels hail from Baal, an irradiated, mutant-infested, post-apocalyptic hellhole. They seek out similar worlds for training and recruitment purposes, such as an asteroid field orbiting a black hole where quakes can send mountains falling into the void and all sorts of evil nightmares lurk about, which is a thousand miles to the nearest neighboring asteroid. This make the recruits' transformations into the most angelic of Space Marines all the more miraculous, and may help explain the chapter's preference for shock assaults.
    • The Salamanders' homeworld is the binary planet of Nocturne, a rugged place of volcanoes, ash deserts and earthquakes, as well as fire-breathing reptiles the Space Marines take their name from. Every fifteen years the Time of Trials begins as Nocturne's moon Prometheus swings close, putting the already high seismic activity on overdrive, threatening every settlement save for the seven Sanctuary Cities. Afterward the planet is gripped by a long and bitter winter that covers the world in a frozen tundra, the only solace being the fresh veins of mineral wealth exposed by the cataclysmic upheaval. There is a reason the Salamanders fight more to preserve life than kill enemies: they know how precious it is.
    • The world of Urisarach was a storm-wracked planet covered in dense, hair-like forests, home to a nigh-extinct race of huge, armored arachnids dumped there because the monsters were just that unpleasant. It earned its nickname after a failed incursion that nearly wiped out an entire expeditionary fleet of Space Marines. As they put it: "This. World. Is. Murder."
      • The chapter of the Blood Angels that explored the world renamed it 'Murder' for this reason. The most jarring part is that it turned out Urisarach was merely a nature preserve for the arachnids, put there by the local human population in order to preserve the species from extinction. There were warning buoys placed in orbit, but the Space Marines were unable to understand the message. Oops.
    • All of these pale in comparison to Daemon worlds, planets which have been utterly corrupted by Chaos, where the laws of reality themselves are reforged at the whims of the daemons who preside over them. Mortals who live on Daemon worlds invariably live short and brutal lives as either warriors, slaves or playthings. The Daemon world of Drakaasi, for instance, is a Khornate planet presided over by a reptilian Daemon Prince named Lord Ebondrake and a cutthroat upper class of daemons, traitor Astartes, barbarian chieftains and amazonian warrior women, all fighting for slaves and the favour of their patron.
  • Decapitated Army: Played straight by the Orksnote , the Taunote  and the Tyranidsnote . Subverted quite spectacularly by the Alpha Legion when the Ultramarines went after them during the Horus Heresy; after (possibly) killing Alpharius and his top commanders, the Ultramarines were horrified to find that the Alpha Legion didn't give a shit about the death of their Primarch and pushed the Ultramarines off the planet with near-total casualties.
    • On a more strategic level, the Imperium is in peril of becoming a Decapitated Empire. The Emperor, alone, enables the FTL travel that the Imperium needs to survive. Despite apparently being nothing more than a galaxy-wide compass, if he goes down then so do does the Imperium.
  • Defenseless Transports: Played straight for some armies, but subverted for others. Generally dedicated transport units tend to have less firepower and defenses than combat vehicles, barring the Land Raider (which can be taken as a dedicated transport for Space Marine Terminators but otherwise uses a heavy support slot like a "proper" tank), but how defenseless they are varies. Space Marine Rhinos have low armour and only a single storm bolter (essentially a pair of basic infantry guns bolted together and fire-linked), while Imperial Guard Chimeras actually mount fairly good mid-strength weaponry. And then you have the Eldar Wave Serpent, which is arguably one of the best battletanks in game, combining medium armour, high speed and good firepower.
  • Deflector Shields: Starting with personal infantry shields or shield drones and reaching up to Void Shields that defend Titans and starships.
  • Dehumanization: Imperials and Chaos have the same view of each other: blind fools clinging to false gods and weaklings only good for extermination. Some Space Marine chapters have this view of normal humans, whether allied or fallen to Chaos.
    • Tangentially used by the Imperial Guardman's Uplifting Primer. Of course their foes aren't human, but it still makes them out to be inferior to the basic human, and doesn't hesitate to make up "facts" like Tau being descended from bovines and stampeding at loud noises and Orks being easy to defeat in close combat. An updated edition features Tau sympathizers which it claims are easily recognizable as degenerate subhumans (other than a tendency to wear braids and sometimes paint themselves blue, they're no less healthy that the regular humans), reminiscent of Nazi sub-racial distinctions.
  • Deliberately Painful Clothing: Followers of Slaanesh wear these, though it's less repentance and more getting a kick from the sensations, as well as powering their god.
    • The Pain Glove, despite its name, covers the entire body. It's used to cause pain without damaging the body, and is extensively used by the (good guy) Imperial Fists chapter to continuously strengthen themselves or for spiritual reasons.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: For the record, no, Games Workshop is not trying to condone the extreme dystopian Crapsack World of the 41st millennium as a desirable place to live.
  • Demonic Possession: Even the tanks can get possessed. However, of the main sentient races, only humans are frequently possessed. Necrons have no souls to possess; whatever souls Tau have are too meager for demons to attach to; Tyranid hive fleets have such huge psychic signatures that anything lower than a Daemon Prince would be destroyed just going near them; Orks rely on a gestalt field rather than proper souls; the Eldar can avert it through strict discipline; and Dark Eldar torture a person a day to keep the daemons away.
  • Depending on the Writer: In a fictional universe this big, with 34 years worth of writers and history, it really can't be helped. There are tonnes and tonnes of factors that vary wildly depending on who's writing them.
    • One of the more notable ones is the Orks' Clap Your Hands If You Believe Achievements in Ignorance. In early material, the orc psychic field completely trumped reality, to the point where Orks could fly spaceships with no fuel in them if they didn't know there was no fuel, and their weapons were just bits of scrap metal held together in the shape of guns that could still fire real bullets. Over time this got toned down from "impossible" to simply "unlikely." Orks can fashion functional technology through their genetic instincts, and their psychic field tips the odds in favour of their ramshackle technology working and not just blowing up.
    • Another notable one is the Imperium's stance on technological innovation — some writers say that any and all innovation is a burnable offence whilst others say that mixing and matching existing parts is acceptable provided one doesn't create new components from scratch.
    • This is a frequent response to internet discussions of the "who will win" within 40K. The winner will be the protagonists of the story, regardless of the connotations of their faction.
    • Generally you can see a gradual progression of Warhammer 40k lore from its beginnings decades ago, when the portrayal of the Imperium of Man (and pretty much every faction) verged on Stupid Evil, to the present with more nuanced portrayals for everyone. Except the Tyranids. When even Chaos and the Necrons get character development, Tyranids are that bad.
    • Exterminatus. It's either a last resort, or something the Imperium is happy to bring out at the slightest whiff of heresy.
    • The distictions, between the Anti-Magic users known as a Pariah, a Blank, an Untouchable, or a Null (when the terms aren't used interchangeably) are different in seemingly every story where it comes up.
    • Official GW policy is that beyond the broad strokes each author gets to choose what counts as canon. "All of it is real, and none of it is real." Unreliable Canon is in full effect.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Holy hammers, holy bullets, holy stakes, holy artillery rounds, holy flamethrowers, holy hand grenades of Antioch...
  • Derivative Differentiation: It used to just be Warhammer with space ships before adding its own mythos and creatures.
  • Determinator: The Necrons and Tyranids are entire races of Implacable Determinators, but insanely determined people crop up everywhere in this universe.
    • Non-race-specific example is any unit that has the "Rage" special rule, which force them to go after the closest visible enemy when they move, run, or charge, or the "Feel No Pain" special rule, which lets them keep going despite horrific injury.
    • One of the more extreme examples is Black Templars, who are the only army that move towards the enemy when their men die. On top of this, they are literally fearless in close combat— a lone Neophyte (a warrior novice) who has just seen the rest of his squad die will stay in the fight against a monster three times his size, which just happens to have huge claws, acidic blood, head-bursting psychic powers and Emperor knows what else.
    • This is also true of Sisters Repentia in a Sisters of Battle army. Their zeal and will to repent is represented in their special rules, which attempt to ensure that they will always rush towards the enemy during their movement phase, and will always charge the enemy if they ever fail a Morale check in combat. Adding in a Priest only exacerbates the situation improves their chances of doing so.
    • On the Chaos side, the Khorne berserkers voluntarily undergo a partial lobotomisation that make them singlemindedly bloodthirsty and removes their inclination towards self-preservation. This means that they rush into melee brandishing chainsaw axes and are completely immune to morale effects.
    • Another notable example would be Commissar Sebastian Yarrick. Despite losing his left eye and his right arm, as well as being an old, old man by the time of his main exploits, Yarrick managed to inspire terror and respect in the Orks by his uncanny ability to fight in the thick of it no matter the odds (and the pain). When his right arm got chopped off he simply beheaded the offending Ork Warboss and kept on fighting, only "allowing himself the luxury of passing out" after the long battle was won. This has granted him the dubious honour of being WH40K fandom's answer to Chuck Norris, Jack Bauer and meme-makers know who else.
    • Played with by the Tau, who are physically unable to disobey their Ethereal caste leaders. If an Ethereal tells another Tau to do something, they automatically become the Determinator. If all nearby Ethereals are killed in battle, they tend to react... poorly, one way or another.
    • The Blood Angels Space Marines suffer from the Flaw, which turns them from noble warriors into blood-crazed, vampiric madmen. To date, only Mephiston, their Chief Librarian, has succumbed to the Black Rage, the final stage of the Flaw, and been able to return to sanity. He does it by sheer willpower.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Units can rout, such as from failing a 'morale check' from casualties.
  • Detect Evil: Psykers can sense the presence of Chaos. Chaos itself is supposed to have a smell somewhere between rotten flesh and sugar.
  • Deus Est Machina: Taken literally by the Omnissiah, and almost literally by the Void Dragon. Then there's the part where they might be the same being...
  • Devil's Job Offer:
    • During the events of the Horus Heresy, a World Eaters Space Marine known as Khârn racked up an enormous body count during the final siege of the Imperial Palace on Terra. He was killed during the battle, but Khorne, the Chaos God of war, blood and carnage, was so impressed by his showing that he brought Khârn back to life so he could continue to spill blood and collect skulls. It should also be mentioned that Khorne isn't particularly concerned about whose skulls Khârn collects, hence his nickname of "The Betrayer"
    • Typhus and the entirety of the Death Guard are an example. Stricken down with a terrible plague on their way to said final siege of Terra, the entire legion of disease resistant super soldiers is struck down by Nurgle... until Typhus makes a deal. Nurgle restores them to life, with the caveat that they will never be free of their diseases and must spend all of eternity bringing Nurgle's plagues to others.
    • Just in case you were thinking that was it, Lucius the Eternal of the Emperor's Children has this story. Renowned for both his arrogance and sadism, he was eventually slain, but his god, Slaanesh, approved of his debauchery so highly that he was returned to life, with the curse that anybody who dares kill Lucius will, if they take any pleasure in the deed whatsoever, be transformed into Lucius that he may live again.
    • The character of Ahriman experienced this. When Tzeentch picked him to be his herald of Change, he simply 'arranged' matters into giving Ahriman a lifestyle that suited him— just like he did when he brought the rest of his legion into his fold centuries earlier.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Daemons, C'tan, and other Eldritch Abominations can be defeated, if only by throwing absolutely everything at them— but destroying the physical form of a daemon only banishes it back to the warp for a while, and the C'tan merely need to fashion new necrodermis bodies.
    • They're not always that hard to kill. An ordinary human took down one armed with nothing but a melta and a chainsword, while backed up by a squad of marines. Admittedly this was out of the ordinary, in a firmly tongue-in-cheek take on the universe, by a character who was both Born Lucky and a Badass Normal. Said ordinary human's aide also just so happened to be a blank, whose very presence is harmful to daemons.
    • In another amusing take on the rules, it is well possible that an entire retinue of an Inquisitor, whose job is banishing daemons, is unsuccessful, but a little girl with a kitchen knife can defeat a Daemon Prince(ss) without so much as a scratch (remember a Daemon Prince(ss) is a Chaos Warrior who proved so awesome and beneficial to her/his patron deity (s)he was granted demi-godhood).
  • Diesel Punk: Nearly everything runs on magic gasoline called "promethium". Admit it, 40k is just diesel punk with spaceships and Eldritch Abominations.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: Games Workshop released an expansion called Space Marine to the original Adeptus Titanicus game (the scale now called Epic). Come the re-release, the entire game system ended up being released under the Space Marine name, with Games Workshop picking up a Registered Trademark for "Space Marine." Figures for Aliens will acknowledge this trademark on their packaging if you look, despite that Aliens came out the year before the original Rogue Trader book.
    • Similarly, the manual for Dungeon Keeper 2 lists "Dark Angel" as being registered under GW.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Some of the more beatific Living Saints of the Imperium can manage to pull this off.
  • Divided We Fall: Common among the Imperial armed forces, governments, the Inquisition, etc., much to the Imperium's detriment.
  • Divine Conflict: The God-Emperor of Mankind is locked in endless warfare with the four Chaos Gods. The Chaos Gods are also at war with each other, and in Tzeentch's case with himself. The same conflict takes place in Warhammer, minus the God-Emperor part (They have Sigmar instead).
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Tyranid wargear. Do not examine the biology behind it too closely. It's to the point where their living artillery creatures, specifically Biovores, actually have prominent scrotums dangling from their, ah, "cannons".
    • A non-sexual example of this trope: The Imperium, encouraged by the official state religion, the Ministorum, hates, fears, and persecutes psykers, even though the Imperium could not function at all without them, and even though the entire Imperium, under that same state religion, worships a psyker.
    • The Tactica Imperium is the most widespread manual of the Imperial Guard, with various compilations distributed all around the Imperium. Having started as a standardized work for the Emperor's vast forces raised in the Great Crusade, innumerable officers added their own thoughts to create countless more and more different versions including the mindsets and experiences of many different writers; making the entirety of the Tactica Imperium texts vast, potentially contradictory and variably interpreted. Basically, the Tactica Imperium is what religious canon would be like if the religion was a Church Militant ruling an empire across the galaxy.
  • The Dog Bites Back: According to the new codex, the Necrons have gotten sick of the C'tan's bull and have successfully rebelled against them.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: On a personal level, this is the entire philosophy of Gabriel Seth, Chapter Master of the Flesh Tearers. Unique among the successors of the Blood Angels, his Marines succumb to the Black Rage far more often than is normal, to the point that between it and losses in battle, the Flesh Tearers are slowly but surely going extinct. Seth has made it his life's work to ensure his Chapter is remembered as a force of gallant heroes and valiant warriors, rather than bloodthirsty monsters and psychotic killers.
  • Due to the Dead: Orks and Chaos forces regularly mutilate the bodies of dead foes, possibly to stick some heads on something pointy. Not that respect for the dead is exactly common...
  • Dumb Is Good: The Imperium LIVES by this.
    • More Ignorance Is Bliss. People who enforce this trope in-universe (High Lords of Terra, Inquisition etc.) are all but dumb.
    • The Ogyrns follow this with out even knowing it as they're the Imperium's Dumb Muscle of choice, with even their best and "brightest" bone'eads being a dull knife in a pile of shattered glass.
  • Dungeon-Based Economy: Whenever a Space Hulk appears in a system, it's usually followed by every local with a ship (and sometimes official factions like the Adeptus Mechanicus) to enter and loot the millenia-old technology. This is extremely stupid, as hulks are often used by tyranids and orks as transportation devices, making them aware of an inhabited system to eat/plunder nearby.
  • Dying Race:
    • Humanity. However, the Imperium is so large that it will take thousands of years for them to finally die out, and they're numerous, stubborn, and heavily armed enough to take at least some of their killers down with them.
    • The Craftworld Eldar are a vestigial empire with a very low birth rate due to the fact that attempting to reproduce runs the risk of being tainted by Slaanesh.
    • Necron are literally incapable of reproducing, since they're souls in mechanical bodies. While they're very hard to permanently kill, they can't replace any losses.
  • Dynamic Entry: During the animated cinematic trailer for the game's 9th Edition, a Ultramarines Assault Intercessor Sergeant makes his entry into the scene by impaling a Necron through the chest with his chainsword, saving the Sororitas Sister Superior that it had been duelling with.


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