- "It seems the galaxy has forgotten us, old friend. Ready my command barge; an example must be made of these interlopers."
- — Necron Lord Iohketh, the Vindicator of Gralehk, to Vargard Cahleh'sti prior to the razing of Hive Ascalon
A Necron Lord is the most sophisticated of the ancient race of soulless xenos known as the Necrons. A Necron Lord serves as the commander and energy supply for the much larger Necron armies composed of the standard Necron Warriors. When the Necrontyr gave up their organic bodies to serve the C'tan, they transferred their consciousnesses into bodies made of the living metal "Necrodermis". However, they soon discovered that over an extended period of time, their new robotic bodies dulled their minds and their ability to feel any type of emotion or pleasure. Over many millennia, the ultimate outcome of this process of gradual desensitisation was that the Necrons became the soulless warrior-slaves of the C'tan, harvesting intelligent life from across the galaxy to feed these souls to their insatiable masters.
Only the most powerful and strong-willed of the Necron nobility, referred to as Necron Lords, managed to gain access to Necrodermis bodies following biotransference that were sophisticated enough to allow them to maintain their full sentience in the face of the growing dullness of their minds. A Necron Lord is a high-ranking member of a Necron dynasty's noble hierarchy and is usually placed by the dynasty's Phaeron or his own Overlord in control of an entire Tomb World. Clad in crumbling vestments and wielding ancient, arcane staff weapons, the Necron Lord is a chilling sight to behold on the battlefield as they direct their Necron Warriors in unnatural silence. Their ancient metallic bodies are marred by the patina of age and they wear the accumulated power of millennia like a robe. With every silent gesture, glittering arcs of viridian energy surround them as their empty eye sockets burn with soulless fire.
The nobles of the ancient Necrontyr kingdoms emerged far better from the race's biotransference into their machine bodies than did the plebeian classes. Within the engrammic circuitry housed within their new bodies, the Necron nobles retained their intellect and personality which was far more extensive than that granted to the lesser Necrontyr. Most Necrons emerge from the Great Sleep as dull-witted creatures, with little memory of the individual they once were. Yet, unless they suffered damage during their long dormancy, Necron Lords and Overlords retain all the personal drives, obsessions and nuances of personality that they once possessed as organic beings. A Necron Tomb World is home to dozens, or even hundreds, of Necron nobles, but only one has the power of absolute rule. For most coreworlds and fringeworlds this individual is a Necron Lord, while Necron crownworlds and particularly important coreworlds will be ruled by Necron Overlords. A particularly powerful Overlord, known as a Phaeron, will also lay claim to a crownworld, from which he rules his entire Necron Dynasty.
Each Necron Lord is a willful individual with its own personality and goals. Many Lords desire to elevate their status within the Necron hierarchy, perhaps to one day rise to the position of Phaeron and rule over an entire dynasty. Others desire to expand the boundaries of their dynasty’s domain through conquest. While some such Lords and Nemesors may exterminate the inhabitants of the worlds they conquer, others are perfectly willing to accept oaths of allegiance and servitude from the lesser races. Still others desire to undo the curse of biotransference, or perhaps to eliminate their age old enemies, the Eldar. Some Lords are consumed by strange obsessions, such as collecting objects of historical significance or cataloguing every life form in the galaxy. Necron Lords are easily marked out through the elaborate decorations with which they are adorned. In some cases these take the form of ancient, mouldering robes, possibly dating from before biotransference. Others are clad in tabards and cloaks of shining, segmented metal. Perhaps this choice of attire gives some insight into the minds of these immortal rulers, differentiating those who long for a return to flesh from those who embrace their undying form.
Amongst the Necron nobles of a Tomb World, political infighting is common and there are always countless schemes playing out, albeit at a glacial pace by the standards of other intelligent races. As a result of their android natures, all Necrons tend towards calculating behaviour and a pretender will rarely move openly against his opponent if the chance of success is outweighed by the high probability of failure. At the same time, it is not unknown for a challenged Overlord to yield to a subordinate if there is no hope of immediate victory. They will choose to wait out the passing years and centuries at a lower rank, patiently anticipating an opportunity to reclaim the power that was lost.
But if the prize is large enough, such power struggles can erupt into open conflict. When this occurs, the remaining Tomb World nobles will align themselves according to their own loyalties and ambitions, though some will wait as long as possible to negotiate the price of their loyalty. These internal conflicts invariably follow the formalised codes that governed the ancient Necrontyr, leading to set piece battles with forces arranged and rules agreed to in advance by the competing nobles. In the times before the biotransference, such civil wars led to the slaughter of countless millions in a matter of days or weeks. But nowadays, the Necrons' cybernetic ability to self-repair enables them to wage such conflicts for years or even centuries with no discernible victor. This is reason enough for all but the most desperate or power-hungry Necron nobles to avoid such an outcome.
For each of these battles fought amongst his own kind, a Necron noble will orchestrate hundreds of sprawling campaigns against those alien usurpers who squat amongst the remains of the Necron dynasties in the modern galaxy. For many Nemesors, it is unthinkable to honour an alien enemy by following the traditional Necrontyr codes of battle. In their eyes, most intelligent races of the galaxy are little more than vermin to be exterminated with as much efficiency, and as little of the ancient pomp of ceremony, as possible. Most of the more advanced races in the galaxy, such as the Eldar, have proven themselves unworthy of being treated as equals. As a result, assassination and ambush -- forms of battle forbidden in wars between the ancient Necrontyr nobility -- are employed by the Necrons against outsiders with no reservations. Yet no matter how underserving a Necron ruler considers his enemies to be, he always personally oversees his forces battles whenever possible, leading his vassals into the thick of the fighting. In this way he proves his superiority and right to rule, both to his noble Necron peers and to his enemies across the galaxy.
When a Necron lord strides forth to war, only the strongest and wiliest of opponents have any hope of survival. His armoured form is impervious to even tank-busting weaponry and features highly sophisticated self-repair protocols, and his robotic body provides him with the strength required to crush bones to dust. At his command are all the armaments of the ancient Necron civilisation: Warscythes, Tachyon Arrows and the other extraordinary tools of destruction forged by Necrontyr science. Yet perhaps a Necron noble's most potent weapon remains his mind and the absolute determination that resides there to reforge the ancient Necron Empire.
Necron Tomb Worlds appear to have no permanent organisation or command structure, nor is the interaction of the various forces altogether clear to the savants of the Imperium. The Necrons' form of warfare could best be described as a continuous process of causality, as each battle, campaign and Harvest produces preordained responses from the controlling program of the Tomb World. This evolving structure is made possible by a system similar to that used in the most complex assemblies of the Adeptus Mechanicus, which is known as Nodal Command. Nodal Command organisation allocates a strict hierarchy to all of the elements within it. This system grants greater operational and decision-making capacity to certain "nodes" whilst slaving the rest of the system to these nodes' autonomous command decisions. Necron Lords form the nodes of the command structure, allowing each Lord an allocated hierarchical value at any given time. Though the Adeptus Mechanicus can only guess at how this Nodal Command system truly operates, they have determined that there are at least four levels of hierarchy within the Nodal Command, which the Tech-priests have designated Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels, in ascending order of command priority. The Nodal Command system is also a communications structure and forms the basis for how intelligence information is gathered and orders issued to the necessary Necron units. The system is often likened to the ancient flow charts once used to design Cogitator algorithms during the Dark Age of Technology.
The decisions taken by a higher-level Necron Lord (such as a Gold-level), give a single, quick response. All relevant data and orders are then automatically disseminated to any subservient Lords -- the Silver-and Bronze-level Lords slaved to the Gold-level commander. In situations where speed is less important than processing all of the relevant information, decision-making defers across several Bronze or Silver-level Lords, and can even devolve down to the individual Necron Warriors at specific times during combat. This system allows for a great deal of coordination when required, but also still leaves room for independent action by distant combat groups should the need arise. A Platinum-level Necron Lord, also known as a Necron Overlord, has not yet been encountered by Imperial forces. Savant speculation indicates that this level of Necron Lord would command massive Necron fleets intended to Harvest entire swathes of the galaxy. Such a Necron force might prove unstoppable.
The escalation of a war with a Tomb World grows exponentially, until the forces at the Necrons' disposal are utterly petrifying. The more an enemy fights against the Necrons, the more devastating the response from the Nodal Command system. As resistance grows, so to does the power of the forces released by the Tomb World to the Nodal Command structure. It is speculated by Imperial savants and Adeptus Mechanicus senior Tech-priests that a Necron Tomb World must hide some truly disturbing weapons and war engines of destruction, even more so than its massed phalanxes of Necron Warriors and Monoliths. All that would be required to unleash ultra-advanced technologies upon an unsuspecting foe is for the fighting to escalate to an as-yet unseen level. Once this unseen line is crossed, one can only guess at the horrific Necron machineries that would be set free by a Tomb World's automated defensive systems. Many scoured worlds found close to the location of a known Tomb World are perhaps long-dead testaments to this unspeakable power.
- Necron Destroyer Lord - Even the Necron nobility are not safe from the nihilistic madness that consumes the Destroyers. When a Necron Lord or Necron Overlord succumbs, a great threat to all life is born. Ironically, the only reason the Imperium is not aware of the extent of this threat is precisely because these Destroyer Lords are so aptly named. No one has borne witness to the atrocities committed by these steel harbingers of apocalypse and lived, and so it can only be guessed at the threat stirring on barren worlds scattered across the galaxy. While many Necron Lords and Overlords are afflicted by "eccentricities," the insanity that consumes the mind of a Destroyer Lord is something else entirely. Like other Destroyers, Destroyer Lords modify their bodies and minds, so that they might be better suited to their overarching purpose, to cleanse the stars of all life. While this most often includes the attachment of an anti-gravitic suspensor platform in place of legs, Destroyer Lords tend to forgo the ranged weaponry favoured by other Destroyers in favour of melee weapons. The Warscythe is a particular favourite, as a Destroyer Lord hovering above the heads of his enemies can take full advantage of the reach afforded by these massive melee weapons. Curiously, Destroyer Lords forgo the decorative finery commonly worn by Necron royalty. Whether this is representative of their single-minded obsession, an intentional statement, or a simple matter of practicality, none can say, for the Destroyer Lords are avoided by their former peers as much as the other Destroyers, and are not keen to engage in conversation (except to learn the location of potential targets).
- Harbinger of Awakening - The Necron Lords designated as the "Harbingers of Awakening" have but one overriding purpose -- to journey the stars in search of Necron Tomb Worlds that still lie dormant and return them to life. The encryptions and algorithms necessary to make contact with a slumbering Necron Tomb and to resurrect it to ghastly life once again are contained within the Harbinger's cortex. The arrival of a Harbinger of Awakening and its personal bodyguard composed of Necron Immortals (known as a Resurrection War Cell) spells the inevitable doom of a world that remains ignorant of the Necrons slumbering beneath their feet.
- Harbinger of the Storm - The Necron Lords designated as "Harbingers of the Storm" herald a Necron assault by unnatural and violent storms that cast an impenetrable pall of darkness and disrupt communications on a target world for many leagues. At the heart of this unnatural tempest is a Harbinger of the Storm, who wields the eldritch power of the Necron to control the howling winds and lightning. The arrival of a Harbinger of the Storm and its bodyguards of Necron Wraiths (known as a Stormcaller War Cell) spread discord and panic on a world about to be invaded by a massive army of uncounted Necron Warriors. Where this vile Necron Lord strides, communications networks fail, locater beacons fall silent, teleport homers cease to function and orders fail to arrive. With a mere gesture, a Harbinger of the Storm can summon deadly arcs of viridian lightning to shatter war engines and slaughter enemy infantry with malign precision. Dozens of Wraiths prowl the billowing storm, defending the Harbinger of the Storm from those foolhardy enough to stray too close to the Necron Lord.
A Necron Lord will equip himself with one of the following weapons:
- Gauntlet of Fire - A Gauntlet of Fire takes the form of an armoured glove and vambrace, whose length crackles and flows with green flame. The gauntlet's mechanisms are controlled by a series of submechadermal filaments, allowing the wielder a level of control over the gauntlet as if it were his own hand.
- Hyperphase Sword - A Hyperphase Sword's energy blade vibrates across dimensional states, and can easily slice through armour and flesh to sever vital organs. It can be considered to be a form of Power Weapon.
- Rod of Night - A Rod of Night takes the form of a rod of black metal about one metre long, its surface inlaid with silver and gold hieroglyphs, and often topped with an emblem of the Necron dynasties. Much more than a status symbol, a Rod of Night is able to siphon energy from technological devices when striking them, pulling it through the air along invisible pathways and storing it to be expended at the desire of the Necron noble wielding the weapon.
- Staff of Light - The Staff of Light is a device of arcane Necron technology that serves as both a symbol of rank and a weapon for Necron Lords. As well as projecting devastating blasts of viridian energy, a Staff of Light can also be used in close combat as a Power Weapon.
- Voidblade - A Voidblade's gleaming black edge flickers in and out of existence, and can cause molecular bonds to be disintegrated in any foe unfortunate enough to be struck by it.
- Warscythe - A Warscythe is an incredibly heavy and cumbersome energy-bladed battle-stave. In the hands of a lesser creature, it would be of little threat; but when wielded by the tireless musculature of a Necron Lord, it is a most formidable close combat weapon.
A Necron Lord can equip himself with any of the following:
- Chronometron - The Necrons are the masters of space and time. A Necron Lord with a Chronometron is capable of acting out of phase with the normal flow of space-time, advancing normally while their opponents seem to move in slow motion.
- Gaze of Flame - Flickering green witch-fires blaze with eldritch energy from the metal death mask of a Necron Lord equipped with a Gaze of Flame; chilling the very heart of those who look upon it, stealing away their strength and crushing their courage, leading many foes to lose their morale and flee the field.
- Lightning Field - Lightning Field technology allows Necron Lords to send bolts of viridian energy arcing to nearby Necrons, energising and charging their Necrodermis carapaces, making them more durable in the face of enemy attacks.
- Mindshackle Scarabs - Mindshackle Scarabs are one of the Necrons' chief methods of controlling intelligent alien races. At the Lord's command, tiny mechanical Scarabs bury into the victim's mind and bypass cerebral functions, transforming the victim into little more than a puppet under the control of the Scarabs' master.
- Nightmare Shroud - A Necron Lord can summon the worst fears from the pits of nightmare and thrust them into the minds of all those in close proximity if he is armed with a Nightmare Shroud. Palpable waves of horror radiate outwards from the metal-skinned monster, and all who look upon it will find their courage tested to the very limit.
- Phase Shifter - A Necron Lord with a Phase Shifter can make their metallic body appear hazy and indistinct as it goes out of phase with the rest of space-time, as though he was not completely corporeal. Shots and blows pass through the Necron Lord's mechanical body and even the most powerful weapons cannot harm him when in this state.
- Phylactery - Taking the form of an inconspicuous charm, a Phylactery is a powerful self-repair device filled with tiny, spider-like robotic creatures that swarm all over a Necron Lord when it is wounded, re-knitting his Necrodermis body so that he may continue the fight.
- Resurrection Orb - A Resurrection Orb is an arcane device that enables a Necron Lord to augment the self-repair systems of fallen Necrons nearby. With a gesture, the scattered remains of destroyed warriors can crawl together before standing to do battle once more.
- Sempiternal Weave - Many a Necron Lord's exoskeleton is threaded with a Sempiternal Weave consisting of filaments of phase-hardened amaranthite and adamantium, vastly increasing his armoured hardiness and the structural integrity of his Necrodermis shell.
- Shadow Ankh - Shadow Ankhs take form of a heavy amulet emblazoned with the Ankh of the Triarch. Much more than a sign of status, Shadow Ankhs contain a small but powerful null-field generator, far more sophisticated than those fashioned by the Adeptus Mechanicus. This is able to nullify the effects of Warp-spawned powers and sever the connection that Daemons and psykers have to the Immaterium through unknown arcane technologies.
- Solar Pulse - A Solar Pulse allows the Necron Lord's Staff of Light to release a blinding flash of energy, blinding his enemies and illuminating the battlefield to allow his Necron Warriors to target the foe more effectively.
- Tesseract Labyrinth - A Tesseract Labyrinth is the physical manifestation of a pocket-dimensional prison gateway. Once caught within its folds, there can be no escape.
- Veil of Darkness - A Necron Lord can use this arcane technology to summon a Veil of Darkness, which twists about the Lord like a ghostly cloak blown by an ethereal breeze. When the darkness ebbs, the Lord and those nearby will have disappeared, only to reappear mysteriously some distance away moments later, providing an unmatched tactical advantage.
- Black Crusade: The Tome of Fate (RPG), pp. 114, 120-121
- Codex: Necrons (3rd Edition), pg. 18
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pp. 29, 89-90
- Codex: Necrons (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 133
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 120-121
- Warhammer 40,000 Apocalypse, pp. 162-164
- Warhammer 40,000 Apocalypse Reload, pp. 50-51