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Warhammer 40k Lore – The Necrons: Ancient Machines of Death and Rebirth


The galaxy teems with countless horrors and threats, but few are as enigmatic, formidable, and terrifying as the Necrons.

These ancient and soulless machines are an ancient space-faring civilisation that has reawakened from a slumber of millions of years. The Necrons are characterised by their unyielding desire for dominion over the galaxy and their mastery of advanced technology that reanimates the dead and wields the power of the cosmos.

Origins and Cosmic Dynasty

The history of the Necrons is a complex and twisted tale that spans millions of years. In an epoch known as the War in Heaven, the Necrons were once a mortal and powerful civilisation ruled by the C’tan, ancient star gods with god-like power. The Necrontyr, the mortal predecessors of the Necrons, waged a brutal war against the Old Ones and the Aeldari, two other ancient and formidable races.

Desperate to gain an advantage in the war, the Necrontyr entered into a pact with the C’tan, which led to their transformation into the robotic Necrons. In exchange for immortality, the Necrontyr sacrificed their living bodies and souls to become unfeeling and ageless machines.

Soulless Immortality

One of the defining features of the Necrons is their soulless existence. Their consciousness is transferred into mechanical bodies known as Necrodermis, which makes them immune to aging, disease, and most forms of physical harm. However, this immortality comes at a terrible price: they have lost their emotions, empathy, and sense of self. Necrons are cold, unfeeling automatons, driven by a relentless and undying desire to reclaim their lost empire and extinguish all life in the galaxy.

Dynasties and Phaerons

The Necrons are organised into dynasties, each ruled by a powerful leader known as a Phaeron. These dynasties are remnants of the ancient Necron empire, and each dynasty has its unique goals, allegiances, and designs on the galaxy. The most well-known Necron dynasty is the Sautekh Dynasty, led by the formidable and enigmatic Szarekh, also known as the Silent King.

Phaerons hold absolute authority within their dynasties, directing their subjects and legions with unswerving determination. The loyalty of lesser Necron lords and subjects is enforced through advanced programming and the threat of deactivation or reprogramming.

Advanced Technology

The Necrons are masters of advanced technology that is far beyond the comprehension of other races in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Their weaponry includes Gauss weapons that can disintegrate matter at a molecular level, particle beam weapons, and potent energy blades. They also possess advanced spacecraft, including the formidable Monoliths and colossal World Engines.

One of the most formidable pieces of Necron technology is the Tesseract Labyrinth, a prison that can trap souls and consciousness, effectively preventing resurrection or regeneration. This device plays a central role in the Necrons’ dominion over their subjects and enemies.

Reanimation Protocols

The Necrons have the ability to reanimate their fallen warriors, allowing them to return to the battlefield after suffering seemingly fatal wounds. This process, known as the Reanimation Protocols, is a testament to their mastery of technology and their utter lack of regard for individual lives. Necron units can reassemble and repair themselves, making them a relentless and unyielding foe.

Necron Pariahs and the C’tan

While the majority of Necrons have lost their individuality and consciousness, there are exceptions. Some Necrons, known as Pariahs, retain fragments of their former lives and emotions. Pariahs are often created by accident or as a result of flawed conversion processes. These individuals, if discovered, are typically shunned or destroyed by the Necron leadership, as they represent a threat to the mechanical unity of the race.

The C’tan, the ancient star gods that once ruled the Necrons, still exist in some form within the Necron society. Many C’tan shards are imprisoned in powerful devices, while others remain free, acting as advisors and weapons for the Necrons. The C’tan wield immense power and can manipulate the fabric of reality, making them formidable allies and tools of the Necrons.

War on the Living

The Necrons’ central goal is to reclaim the galaxy and restore their ancient empire to its former glory. To achieve this, they wage a relentless and unyielding war against all other life forms. Their actions are guided by their belief that only by eradicating all other life in the galaxy can they achieve their goal.

Relations with Other Factions

The Necrons have hostile relations with nearly every other faction in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. They are particularly antagonistic towards the Aeldari, whose ancestors played a role in their transformation into machines, and the Adeptus Mechanicus, as the Mechanicus seeks to unlock the secrets of Necron technology. The Necrons also harbour deep animosity towards the Orks and the Tyranids, viewing them as threats to their dominion.

One faction that shares a complex relationship with the Necrons is the Imperium of Man. While the Imperium seeks to exterminate the Necrons for their relentless aggression, some Imperial commanders recognise the value of Necron technology and weaponry and are willing to make temporary alliances of convenience.