"Once you are marked, there is no escape."
- — Illic Nightspear, Master of Pathfinders
A Deathmark is one of the highly-skilled snipers and assassins of the Necron forces, appearing from apparently nowhere and striking with terrible precision. The name is fitting: once given the "hunter's mark", a Deathmark's targets are almost certain to meet their deaths scant moments later. Like most Necrons, the Deathmarks' technology lies far beyond the realm of human comprehension and they can effectively phase in and out of normal space-time at will.
Their victims will assume that they have been ambushed and that the Deathmarks teleported onto the battlefield. The reality is that they were already there, waiting out of phase for just the right moment to slaughter their victims. Few enemy commanders encounter Deathmarks and live to tell the tale.
In appearance, Deathmarks are more akin to Necron Immortals in the craftsmanship of their mechanical bodies. They are distinguished by a single, large green-glowing optic sensor and the arcane orbs projecting from their spines. These orbs flare with an unnatural light as a Deathmark utilises its occult powers. In keeping with their role, Deathmarks display a propensity for stealth that is all but unique amongst the Necron ranks. Moving as they do with the eerie silence that is the hallmark of the Necron legions, Deathmarks can be surprisingly stealthy for their slow, deliberate movements.
For countless millennia, Necron Deathmark Squads have served the Necron nobility as snipers and assassins. Even when they were beings of flesh and blood, Deathmarks had a reputation for cold-hearted precision and patience. Now, housed in tireless cybernetic bodies of necrodermis, Deathmarks are more deadly than they ever were in the Necrontyr's Time of Flesh.
Whilst Deathmarks are as much part of a Tomb World's army as Immortals and Necron Warriors, tradition dictates strict rules concerning their use. As agents of assassination and ambush, ancient codes forbid the deployment of the Deathmarks in wars between the Necron nobility, or against other "honourable" enemies. This provision does not extend to those enemies the Necrons consider "dishonourable", however, and since no other intelligent race could hope to grasp the intricacies of Necron war etiquette, all but the most traditional and hidebound Nemesors see fully fit to unleash the Deathmarks against their alien foes. Such enemies of the Necrons are considered far from worthy until they have had a chance to prove otherwise on the battlefield. An honourable corpse is still a corpse, and little given to benefiting from its newly accorded status.
Peerless snipers and assassins, Deathmarks utilise many strange and unique technologies to annihilate the enemies of the Necron dynasties. Named for the eerie emerald energy halo with which they indicate their chosen targets, these indefatigable hunters can perceive and track a victim so-marked through any sort of terrain whether it be at long range, through darkness, fog or even through solid walls.
It is said that the mark will glow brightly in five dimensions as it plays about the victims' heads, and is formed of a mysterious energy known to overload and destroy auspices directed at it. The technology behind this signal further augments the Deathmark's deadly skills, ensuring that a marked target rarely survives for long. Even without this nigh-supernatural ability, Deathmarks would make for deadly opponents. Each is an expert marksman, armed with a cruel Synaptic Disintegrator.
Those killed by a Deathmark's first shot are the fortunate ones, for a hit from a Synaptic Disintegrator that is less than fatal almost invariably leaves the victim a pale echo of his former self due to the amount of brain tissue that is destroyed. Deathmarks possess the same skills in hunting and tracking they did in life, bolstered by their machine nature. Deathmarks have no need to eat, drink, or sleep, and can lie in wait as long as necessary for the opportunity to strike. Their mechanical ligatures can hold a rifle perfectly still and they draw no breath which might disturb their aim. As such, Deathmarks are capable of accurate, long range fire at a rate no human sniper could hope to match.
As if these abilities were not enough, Deathmarks are granted access to some of the most sophisticated and closely guarded secrets of Necron hyper-dimensional technology. This technology allows these peerless hunters to almost effortlessly leap back and forth from a pocket dimension. Within this transdimensional oubliette, Deathmarks can monitor the ongoing conflict for solar days on end, waiting patiently for the opportune moment to act whilst being completely undetectable by their foes.
Deathmarks will often busy themselves during this time by utilising all manner of advanced surveillance and detection equipment to constantly monitor the deployment of enemy commanders and reinforcements, track the initiation and target points of enemy communication channels, teleport beams, orbital descents and even the vital signs of their intended targets with childish ease.
Thus are the deployment locations of enemy commanders and their reinforcements betrayed, allowing the Deathmarks to time their attack perfectly so as to catch the enemy off-guard, making for easy prey. Physical defences offer no sanctuary against a squad of Deathmarks: towering ramparts, subterranean bunkers and vast gateways can all be bypassed as though no such barrier existed at all.
Deathmarks seldom take position with the rest of the Necron army at the start of battle and choose their time of intercession carefully. They can be summoned to the fray at the order of the army's commander, but more often they are left to employ their own judgement -- biotranference has done little to dull the Deathmarks' predatory instincts and most Nemesors are content to trust to this.
Once the target has been tracked and established, the Deathmarks exit their oubliette to appear silently upon a ridge, ruin, or other natural feature that affords an unobstructed view of their prey. From there, the Deathmarks place the hunter's mark from which they take their name with a gesture of their skeletal hands, ensuring that the Deathmarks will never lose track of the target no matter where or how or by what manner he flees.
Of course, this marking does not last forever, perhaps only an hour or so at best, but an hour is a laughably long time for a Deathmark set to the hunt. The target will be lucky to survive more than a few seconds before their mind is torn apart by the fire from the Deathmarks' long-barrelled Synaptic Disintegrators.
Perhaps the only weakness of the Deathmarks is a decided lack of close combat ability. While more than strong enough to rip a man’s jaw off with a single skeletal hand, a Deathmark poses little threat to a Power-Armoured Space Marine up close. Deathmarks’ skills and tools, however, ensure that they are seldom caught in a melee fight. On those rare occasions that they are, there are few more effective escape methods than retreating into another dimension.
Deathmarks can be deployed onto a battlefield by Night Scythe transports, providing their support where it is needed most.
- Necrodermis - Like all Necrons, Deathmarks are composed of the living metal called Necrodermis, which allows them to self-repair even catastrophic amounts of damage.
- Synaptic Disintegrator - This rifle is the primary weapon of the Deathmarks, which fires a compressed leptonic beam of sub-atomic particles that destroys organic neural and synaptic tissue.
- Dimensional Oubliette - Deathmarks are able to open up a portal to a pocket dimension within 10 metres of themselves, and use this extradimensional space to ambush and hide from their targets. Whilst other creatures can pass through the portal, the dimension beyond is not designed to support life and creatures that enter quickly suffocate due to the vacuum conditions within. Any who withstand this will also have to deal with extreme debilitation to their sensory perception.
- Black Crusade: The Tome of Fate (RPG), pg. 113
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pg. 36
- Codex: Necrons (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 47, 153-154
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pg. 130