Warhammer 40k Wiki
Warhammer 40k Wiki

A Cryptek enters the battlefield victoriously after annihilating a Chaos Space Marine.

A Cryptek is one of the technologists and engineers of the Necron species, and they are responsible for studying and maintaining the technology of the Necron dynasties. A Cryptek's powers mirror that of the psykers found amongst the other intelligent species of the galaxy.

However, while psykers channel the energies of the Warp to accomplish their seemingly supernatural feats, a Cryptek uses their highly advanced knowledge of science and technology to manipulate the purely physical universe's fundamental forces and produce many of the same seemingly magical effects.

What a Cryptek often accomplishes with their technology is nothing short of magical to the eyes of the "lesser" intelligent peoples of the galaxy.

With their knowledge of arcane sciences, a Cryptek can transmute a foe into liquid adamantium, turn them into a speck of dwarf star matter, set the air ablaze, call down eldritch bolts of lightning and other equally impressive feats of technological arcana.


The Cryptek Alchemist Ozkan the Codifier, Harbinger of Transmogrification.

Crypteks are members of a pan-galactic conclave of Necron technologists whose purpose is to study and maintain the eldritch devices of their ancient species. They are masters of dimensional dissonance, singularity manipulation, atomic transmutation, elemental transmogrification and countless other reason-defying technologies.

In many ways, a Cryptek's powers mirror those employed by the psykers of other intelligent races, but instead of using their innate psychic abilities by channeling Warp energies, the Cryptek employs arcane science to harness the universe's fundamental forces.

Every Cryptek conclave specialises in a particular field of techno-sorcery in one of a hundred thousand disciplines. These conclaves were originally founded to share information and expertise amongst Necron settlements from one end of the galaxy to the other, but have since become fragmented and isolated.

In the long millennia since the Necrons' biotransference, Crypteks have become just as stagnant and fragmented as every other aspect of Necron society. In the present era of the late 41st Millennium, the surviving Cryptek Conclaves are maintained out of force of habit more than for any practical purpose.

Though Crypteks have no official rank in the political structure of a Necron dynasty, they wield immense influence. A Cryptek's power springs from the army of Canoptek Spyders, Wraiths and Canoptek Scarabs under his control, but is mainly acquired from the ignorance of the disinterested Necrontyr nobility, who have no interest in the working of the technology they employ.

As Tomb Worlds need perpetual maintenance to maintain their countless systems functioning at peak efficiency, it is not unknown for a slighted Cryptek to bring the maintenance cycle to a screaming halt should his supposed "betters" require a reminder of the power he and his kind wield. Even the proudest Necron Overlord will muster an apology when his soldiers and weapons seize up on the eve of battle.

A Cryptek Chronomancer seeks to observe the future.

On occasion, a Necron Overlord will go so far as to recruit a particularly trusted and knowledgeable Cryptek to serve in his Royal Court. To entice a Cryptek to serve it is common for an Overlord to grant him the first pickings of precious alloys, power cores and focus crystals in exchange for his services in a campaign.

This can prove politically dangerous for the Overlord, as this essentially elevates the Cryptek to the same rank as the Necron Lords already serving within his dynasty, and so inevitably fosters resentment amongst his regal subordinates.

Nonetheless, having the Cryptek's wealth of knowledge and expertise close at hand is normally viewed as more than adequate compensation for the political risk. Ultimately, the only thing that holds the ambitions of a Cryptek in check is another of his kind. Should a retained Cryptek rise too far above his station, a Necron Overlord will attempt to replace him by luring a different, and more tractable, Cryptek away from the service of a rival.

This process can also have complications, for whilst no Cryptek will knowingly supplant another of the same conclave, a rival from another conclave will not hesitate to do so. This usually results in plots and counterplots which can lead to rivalry, or even outright conflict, between different Crypteks and their respective conclaves.

Technomandrite Crypteks

All Crypteks possess a level of genius that makes the finest minds of Humanity appear drooling simpletons by comparison. The Technomandrites are the most inventive of them all.

Many of the Necron species' most powerful technologies can be ascribed to this hermetic brotherhood -- from translocation beams that teleport them from pocket dimensions into material space, to Gauss Weapons that strip their targets to their constituent atoms. So powerful did these Crypteks become that the Silent King, ruler of the lost Necron Empire, arranged for their downfall.

Only now they stalk from the shadows once more, released from exile by anti-Chaos protocols put in place against a breach from the Immaterium of cosmic scale, a breach like the birth of the Great Rift.

Though many a Necron Overlord seeks the blackstone that will hold back the flood of Chaos in this new era, the Technomandrites are already several steps ahead -- if their plans reach fruition, their mastery of science will give them the keys to ultimate triumph.

Cryptek Disciplines

The Crypteks have developed countless disciplines of techno-sorcery, down through the aeons. Further, each individual Cryptek makes its own unique advancements in its chosen expertise. As such, it is unlikely for two Crypteks to ever wield quite the same abilities and weapons.

Presented here are the five most common Cryptek techno-sorcery disciplines, but by no means are these the only ones, as there are literally hundreds of thousands of such disciplines in use by the different Cryptek Conclaves:

Psychomancer (Harbinger of Despair)

Icon of the Psychomancer

Accomplished psychomancers are amongst the most keenly retained of all Crypteks due to their command over the powers of the mind.

If their abilities are employed properly, the enemy's morale will be quickly shattered within moments of the battle's start, leading to their appelation of "Harbingers of Despair."

  • Nightmare Shroud - When this small, black cask is opened, the worst terrors of a thousand aeons are unleashed on the Cryptek's foes, assailing their enemies with phantasms of dread as potent as any mortal danger.
  • Veil of Darkness - With a simple wave of its skeletal hand, the Cryptek can summon a billowing sheet of almost tangible shadow, enveloping it and nearby allies before disappearing along with the enshrouded Necrons. When the darkness ebbs, the Cryptek and his comrades have disappeared, only to rematerialise some distance away.

Plasmancer (Harbinger of Destruction)

Icon of the Plasmancer

Plasmancers are not subtle beings, for they choose to wield raw energy rather than go to the trouble of binding it into other forms.

Thus are they known as "Harbingers of Destruction," as the spread of destruction is their gift to the galaxy.

  • Gaze of Flame - Some Plasmancers choose to implant hidden weaponry within their own bodies. Many Necrons find this practice unsavoury, at best. Few, however, would question a Harbinger of Destruction to his face, particularly when that face may conceal all manner of terrifying weaponry. When in battle, the eyes of a Cryptek who has granted himself the Gaze of Flame burn with an unnatural, ghostly fire.
  • Solar Pulse - Often incorporated into an Eldritch Lance, the Solar Pulse unleashes a sizeable portion of the Lance's energy, not as a coherent beam, but as a flash of light bright as a solar flare.

Chronomancer (Harbinger of Eternity)

Icon of the Chronomancer

Chronomancers are known as "Harbingers of Eternity," as knowledge of the future flows through their every act.

Few chronomancers are trusted, as they always have a shrewd idea of how any event will unfold.

  • Chronometron - The bearer of this arcane device exists slightly outside the flow of time, allowing him to glimpse possible futures and modify his recent actions accordingly. A Cryptek utilising a Chronometron appears blurred, its movements sudden and spasmodic like a primitive pict-reel or degraded hololith.
  • Timesplinter Cloak - The most accomplished of chronomancers can weave together disparate strands of time, forming an unassailable shield against any attack that does not originate from the time stream corresponding to the precise moment of impact.

Ethermancer (Harbinger of the Storm)

Icon of the Ethermancer

Ethermancers are called the "Harbingers of the Storm," for the fury of the turbulent skies lies at their command. They can summon lightning, or set punishing winds upon the foe.

  • Ether Crystal - An Ether Crystal can control the fundamental forces of nature, summoning storms from tranquillity and lightning from clear skies. In seconds, the chosen area is assaulted by gale-force winds from nowhere as black storm clouds gather to block out the sky.
  • Lightning Field - A Cryptek equipped with a Lightning Field is surrounded by crackling, incandescent electricity that arcs across his body and any nearby Necrons. Bolts of emerald lightning arc between the Cryptek and his comrades, electrocuting any foe who comes near.

Alchemist (Harbinger of Transmogrification)

Icon of the Alchemist

"Harbingers of Transmogrification" are adepts of geomancy and masters of the science once known to Mankind as alchemy.

Alchemist Crypteks specialise in the transmutation of matter from one form to another and the instilling of animus within inanimate objects.

  • Harp of Dissonance - Many an enemy has underestimated the power of this strange, alchemical weapon, most often fatally. An irregularly shaped metallic casket, a Harp of Dissonance is laced with numerous strings of different materials, each perfectly calibrated to a precise level of tension. A correctly played note, when amplified and focused through the arcane technology housed within the Harp, can burst the molecular bonds of nearly any material, transmuting it to brittle porcelain.
  • Seismic Crucible - A skilled geomancer with a Seismic Crucible may command the very earth beneath his feet and, more importantly, the feet of his enemies. The Harbinger of Transmogrification can precipitate a powerful, localised quake.


  • Necrodermis - Like all Necrons, Crypteks are composed of the living metal called Necrodermis, which allows them to self-repair even catastrophic amounts of damage. Most Crypteks will be armed with a type of staff that contains arcane technologies used to unleash his techno-sorcerous powers against the enemy. The most common forms of Cryptek staffs include:
  • Staff of Light - The Staff of Light is both a weapon and a symbol of authority for those Crypteks who have no real specialisation in the arts of techno-sorcery. Its haft is actually a disguised power generator rod, and the crest is a finely tuned focussing device, allowing the wielder to unleash searing bolts of energy at his foes.
  • Abyssal Staff - Crypteks that are accomplished Psychomancers utilise Abyssal Staves. As dark as onyx and decorated with symbols designed to prey on the subconscious fears of mortals, an Abyssal Staff blasts the sanity of a Psychomancer's foes. To succumb to the swirling ebon mists called by the Abyssal Staff is to be swallowed in inpenetrable darkness.
  • Eldritch Lance - The Eldritch Lance is utilised by Crypteks who are also Plasmancers and are able to wield raw energy. This long stave is laced with arcane circuitry, its flared tip studded with focusing crystals. An Eldritch Lance emits a beam of annihilating energy, compared to which the Staff of Light seems but a toy. The passage of its blasts of furious energies can make even the air scream in agony. For those rare cases when the Cryptek's enemies survive long enough to engage him in close combat, the Eldritch Lance can be wielded in a manner akin to a spear.
  • Aeonstave - Utilised by Crypteks that are masters of Chronomancy, the crystalline sapphire head of an Aeonstave generates a kind of low-level stasis field that contains a massive chronal charge. With each blow from the Aeonstave, the energies unleashed will encapsulate and trap the Cryptek's enemy in a bubble of slow-time.
  • Voltaic Staff - The Voltaic Staff is used by those Crypteks who are Ethermancers. Energy continuously crackles along the length of this heavy staff, arcing between exposed storage crystals. An ideal weapon for the Cryptek who wishes to demonstrate the superiority of Necron technology, the impossibly high voltages emitted by the staff are enough to fry even the most sophisticated Imperial technology. Just as the Ethermancer commands the Voltaic Staff, the Voltaic Staff commands lightning.
  • Tremorstave - A Tremorstave is utilised by those Crypteks who are adepts of Geomancy and masters of the science once known as alchemy. A large staff enclosing numerous gyro-engines, grav-flux generators, and other sophisticated devices, a Tremorstave is as deadly a weapon as it is unconventional. When a Cryptek drives the tip of his Tremorstave into the ground, a wave of energy is released, travelling in a straight line directly towards his intended target, splitting the very ground open and sending shards of stone and sprays of dirt blasting out with deadly velocity; knocking any survivors sprawling.

Notable Crypteks

  • Aghadax - Aghadax was a Technomandrite Cryptek who led the forces of the Sautekh Dynasty on the world of Amontep II in a failed attempt to stop the Magos Dominus Dentrex Ologostion from harvesting blackstone on that mineral-rich world.
  • Drizyan - Drizyan is a Necron Cryptek of the Nihilakh Dynasty. An Ethermancer, he worked with the Necron Overlord Tarekh to reactivate an ancient Necron superweapon on the Tomb World of Cardrim dating back to the War in Heaven. Over the decades, the Cryptek has grown overly eccentric, insisting on ever-more bizarre demands from Tarekh if the ancient weapon is to be completed. Needing the Cryptek's knowledge, Tarekh has been forced to acquiesce to Drizyan's demands. However, unknown to Drizyan, Tarekh is looking for another, more compliant Cryptek to replace the Ethermancer.
  • Illuminor Szeras - The enigmatic Cryptek Plasmancer known as Illuminor Szeras is one of the most reviled beings in the whole galaxy. Both hated and envied by the other Necrontyr, it was Szeras' twisted genius that ultimately made the process of biotranference a reality, and condemned the whole Necrontyr civilisation to an eternal undeath. Uncaring, the megalomaniac Szeras only saw the sacrifice of his people as the first step of his own ascension to C'tan-like godhood. In the 41st Millennium, Szeras still labors toward that goal, seeking to unravel the last mysteries of life that escape him. Despite being distrusted and reviled by the majority of his peers and Necron royalty, Szeras' knowledge is so vast, and the help he can grant so potent, that few Nemesors refuse his assistance nor its price when offered.
  • Navgran the Eternal - Navgran was a Cryptek in the service of the Sautekh Dynasty who was known as the High Transmuter.
  • Orikan the Diviner - Orikan the Diviner is one of the most powerful of the Crypteks, and is a potent Chronomancer. Millennia ago, he was the astromancer of the Necrontyr empire's ruling Triarch, and one of the Silent King Szarekh's most trusted counsellors. Orikan was the only one to then oppose the proposal of the C'tan Mephet'ran the Deceiver to grant the Necrontyr immortality through the process of biotransference, as he foresaw it would end in disaster, but his lone voice of dissent was ignored by the Triarch. Driven by loyalty to his race, Orikan submitted to the process and became one of the undying Necrons, forever undying and soulless in an android body of living metal. Despite the loss of his soul, the biotransference procedure had an unexpected bonus for Orikan, as his already considerable powers have only expanded after he was freed from the limitations of fallible flesh. In the late 41st Millenium, Orikan's mastery over the flow of time is such that he can actually "walk back" into the past in a limited manner, just enough to ensure his predictions never go awry.
  • Osiskor, Harbinger of Transmogrification
  • Rahkoz, Chronomancer of Suhbekhar
  • Raunek Ka, The Holder of Keys
  • Toholk the Blinded - Toholk is the Necron Arch-Cryptek of the Maynarkh Dynasty, and is a being of diabolical ingenuity whose particular genius lent itself to the creation of vast amounts of war machinery for his bellicose dynasty. Indeed, his designs and schematics were even distributed by the Triarch across the Necron dynasties in the past, in order to aid the Necron legions in their campaigns against the Old Ones during the War in Heaven. The Canoptek Tomb Sentinel is one such creation of his, and was one of the last he designed before the Necron race underwent the Great Sleep. Even before his transformation into a cold machine-existence, Toholk was without care for the lives his creations took, or indeed the use to which they were put -- only that each invention was a greater triumph of destruction than the last. This maxim was pushed to the extent of him testing new weapons and war machines first-hand on the battlefield as well as on captive subjects. Toholk’s hubris made him many enemies both amongst rival Crypteks and among the Necron Lords of the Maynarkh Royal Court, who were jealous of his fame and notoriety. Despite this, he has survived many plots and assassination attempts made against him and prefers to trap his would-be murderers in Hyperphase Prison Matrices for later disposal or use in further weapons testing.


  • Black Crusade: Hand of Corruption (RPG), pp. 82-83
  • Black Crusade: The Tome of Fate (RPG), pg. 118
  • Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pg. 13, 32, 56, 57, 67, 77, 84-85, 90
  • Codex: Necrons (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 134
  • Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 116-118
  • Warhammer 40,000: Forgebane (Boxed Set Book), pp. 3, 9
  • White Dwarf 389 (US), "Necrons of the Nihilakh Dynasty," by Chris Peach, pg. 45 (Drizyan)