Armiger Pattern Knights, also called Armiger-class Knights, are the lightest class of Imperial Knight in use by the Imperium of Man and the Adeptus Mechanicus, usually piloted by Nobles who are of lesser lineage than other Knight pilots.
Armiger Knights are long-legged combat walkers designed to strike hard and fast at critical targets. Nimbler than the primary Imperial Knight patterns, these engines of war carry heavy weaponry powerful enough to break a battle line.
The lighter Armiger-class Knights, akin to squires or a hunter's beaters, are piloted by minor Nobles or elevated household guards. Instead of sitting the full Throne Mechanicum, Armiger pilots don the Helm Mechanicus, a device that allows them to control their Knight but also neurally bonds them to a higher-ranking Noble.
For all their lesser status, however, every Bondsman is a valued member of their household, and every Armiger is still a towering engine of destruction. Armigers typically fight in packs of two or more, and are employed to scout ahead, perform swift flank attacks, and drive the enemy from cover and into the guns of the larger Knights on the orders of their bond-liege.
While the Standard Template Construct databases for some classes of Knight have been lost over the millennia, several remain in widespread use. Thus, while the mainstay of most Knight houses is the Questoris-class Knight chassis, heavy fire support is offered by the hulking Dominus-class engines, while scouting and raiding duties often fall to the lighter Armiger-class Knights.
Most Knight armies consist of a core of Questoris Knights deployed in formations of three to five known as "lances," supported by walking batteries of Dominus Knights and preceded by fleet-footed packs of Armigers. Though some houses are famed for their specialist types of lance, or predispositions towards specific classes of Knight, these standard tactics have brought the Nobles victory for many thousands of Terran years.
Though they are the lightest class of Imperial Knight regularly deployed on the battlefields of the 41st Millennium, each Knight Armiger is still an imposing war engine capable of butchering entire squads. They possess exceptional speed, able to outpace most battle tanks and transport vehicles when moving at a flat-out run, and react almost as quickly as a flesh-and-blood warrior. Moreover, to compensate for their comparatively smaller size, Armiger-class Knights typically hunt in packs of two or three. In the case of Warglaives, this involves rapidly outflanking and encircling their quarry like wolves on the prowl, before closing in on a rune-transmitted signal to trap and slaughter the enemy.
Unusually for Knights, Armigers are not fitted with a full Throne Mechanicum. Instead they are controlled using a more compact device known as a Helm Mechanicum. Placed upon the head and connected via pre-frontal sockets to the pilot's cerebrum, these machines do not require a full Becoming ritual in order for neural interfacing to be successful. For this reason, the prestige of piloting an Armiger is significantly less than that attached to sitting a fully-fledged Throne Mechanicum. This is compounded by the fact that, while Armigers can operate independently, it is traditional for their Helms Mechanicum to be neurally slaved to the command impulses of a larger Knight, rendering them subordinate. To accept such mental serfdom is to possess the rank of Bondsman, and while this is certainly no mark of dishonour, it is far from glorious among the Nobles of the Knight Worlds.
For many Armiger pilots, the mental imperatives transmitted through their neural bonds can feel unnatural and invasive. It is common for new pilots to feel a sense of resentment or upset at having their desires and opinions directed remotely, while those without the requisite mental fortitude may even lose their grip on their sense of self. More than one Freeblade has been born from such feelings, the Armiger pilot rebelling and fleeing rather than enduring the mental dominance of another.
It is for this reason that many Armiger pilots train at the side of a Knight Preceptor before assuming their duties alongside their bond-liege. The dutiful and heroic example set by the Knights Preceptor inspires Armiger pilots to accept their subservience to such obvious champions of the Imperium, and also plants within their minds a firm aspiration to do their duty and to live up to the example set for them.
Even as the Knights Preceptor are conditioning the Armiger pilots, they are also busy assessing their abilities. Most Bondsmen begin piloting from the helm of a Warglaive, for its weapons and role are both relatively straightforward. Those who demonstrate a cool nerve and a marksman's eye are soon recommended by the Knight Preceptor for promotion from the Armiger Warglaive to an Armiger Helverin.
It is for these reasons that the piloting of Armigers falls to those from the lower social strata of the Noble houses. Some give this duty to distant relatives and minor offshoots of more established bloodlines, or the surviving Knights of a house that has fallen upon hard times. Others elevate the finest common-born warriors from amongst their household guard or planetary militia forces, raising their families' standing from mere peasantry to valued and respected meritocracy.
Still other Noble houses maintain specialist sub-orders of favoured retainers who are fated from birth to be Armiger pilots. Such is the case with House Griffith's Order of the Hound, who are inculcated with notions of faithful service and honourable submission to a Noble's will. These warriors are expert Armiger pilots who favour the close-quarters aggression of the Warglaive, and who stride into battle alongside their masters filled with dogged determination to do their betters proud.
Types of Armiger Knights
- Codex: Chaos Knights (8th Edition), pg. 12
- Codex: Imperial Knights (8th Edition), pp. 16, 58-59