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Primaris Psyker

A Primaris Psyker of the Astra Militarum

A psyker is an individual of any intelligent species in the Warhammer 40,000 universe who possesses some degree of psychic ability or powers.

Psychic powers are sometimes referred to as "sorcery" when they are gained or enhanced through interaction and bargaining with the malevolent entities who exist within the Empyrean. Psykers are also sometimes called "witches" in the Imperium of Man and among the Aeldari, particularly when such powers are used in a way that they show no regard for the dangers they may spawn for others or are used in pursuit of the agenda of the Chaos Gods. Psychic powers are sometimes referred to by the ignorant in the Imperium as "magic", also spelled "magick."

All psykers draw their powers from the extradimensional realm of psychic energy known as the Immaterium or the "Warp" that underlies and penetrates four-dimensional realspace and is the source of all psychic energy in the universe.

As such, psykers, particularly Human psykers whose minds are far less disciplined and easily tempted than their Aeldari counterparts, are often in danger of possession by the Daemonic entities of the Warp, the onset of insanity and ultimate corruption by the Ruinous Powers of Chaos.

Psykers of the Galaxy

Most of the intelligent species in the Warhammer 40,000 galaxy employ psykers on the battlefield; some of these psykers are inevitably more potent than others. There are three exceptions to this: the T'au, the Drukhari and the Necrons.

The T'au Empire has yet to develop any psykers among their species because they have only recently evolved to fully sapient status. The Drukhari, though as possessed of inherent psychic ability as their Craftworld Aeldari counterparts, fear that the use of psychic powers only further hastens the loss of their souls to Slaanesh.

The Necrons no longer possess souls since they transferred their consciousnesses into their necrodermis bodies through the process of biotransference and became creatures wholly of the physical universe like their former C'tan masters; as a result they no longer generate any presence within the Immaterium and cannot draw upon any form of psychic energy from that realm.

Imperium of Man

The genetic mutation which grants a Human being the ability to draw upon the psychic energy of the Immaterium has become increasingly common since the Neolithic Age. However, what is known is that Human psykers were only first mentioned in the historical record towards the end of the 22nd Millennium, making a sudden appearance on almost every Human-settled world within a relatively short span of time, not long before the onset of the Age of Strife.

This change was the harbinger of Mankind's slow evolution into a fully psychic species much like the Aeldari, who will be more intelligent, more capable and ultimately more peaceful than Humanity is at present. Unfortunately, this process has been quite uneven and even the most powerful Human psykers still have minds that have not developed to the point that they can touch the Warp with the level of control wielded by the Aeldari Seers.

As such, because of this lack of mental development and Mankind's own still deeply flawed, covetous nature, most Human psykers always run a substantial risk of being possessed by the Daemonic entities of the Warp and spreading the death and destruction of Chaos wherever they go. It is for this reason that the Emperor of Mankind largely banned the use of psychic powers throughout the Imperium of Man save in a few notable exceptions in 001.M31 at the Council of Nikaea during the Great Crusade.

Psykers, although justifiably feared throughout Humanity's history because of their extraordinary powers and the equally extraordinary dangers they sometimes unleashed on those around them, serve several vital roles within the Imperium today under several of the exceptions laid out by the Council of Nikaea some ten millennia ago.

Psykers are too dangerous to remain at liberty on the Imperium's myriad worlds; their minds are susceptible to Daemonic possession as their strong presences in the Warp can serve as gateways into the material universe for all kinds of Warp entities if they are weak or undisciplined with their powers. Uncontrolled, they can intentionally or unintentionally cause the destruction of entire worlds and have done so in the pre-Imperial past, such as during the terrible days of the Age of Strife.

Humans found to be bearing the psychic mutation, if they are not simply killed, are sent to Terra aboard the infamous Black Ships of the Inquisition which endlessly traverse the Imperium. All Human psykers have an ordained role to play as loyal servants of the Imperium if they have the willpower to control their abilities and not become a danger to others. Their exact role depends on the psychic powers they manifest and their strength of character and will, though psykers who have some use for the Imperium are known as "Sanctioned Psykers" while individuals who manifest unusually strong psychic powers often become "Primaris Psykers," the most powerful Human psykers in existence.

Sanctioned Psykers serve within the Astra Militarum and as Librarians in the Space Marine Chapters, employing their powers in battle as well as for civil duties. Imperial Navigators use their psychic "third eye" to determine safe paths through the Immaterium for Imperial voidcraft using the faster-than-light Warp-Drive employed by all Imperial starships. Astropaths provide faster-than-light communication as their telepathy is not confined to the speed of light since their messages travel through the Warp much as starships use the Warp to make interstellar jumps.

Thousands of psykers who lack the mental discipline and willpower to safely serve the Imperium are sacrificed every standard year to sustain the Emperor's psychic presence in the Warp, and thousands more must constantly be drained by Him to power the Astronomican, which broadcasts a potent telepathic signal through the Warp which is used as a point of reference by starship Navigators. However, the Imperium of Man also ruthlessly executes countless less-fortunate psykers who are seen as mutants, Heretics, potential threats to their homeworlds, or gateways to the Daemons and corruption of Chaos.

Psykers first emerged amongst Mankind in the middle part of the long distant Age of Technology, a period of Human history about which all but nothing is remembered in the 41st Millennium. Since that time, ever-greater numbers of Humans have been born with the ability to wield psychic powers, and others still come into such powers later on in life. This phenomenon has been the subject of study, debate, superstition, prejudice, intolerance, and even open warfare throughout the ages, and all manner of meanings have been read into it.

Some claim that Humanity is undergoing the birth pangs of a new phase in its evolution, and can look forward to an age when the species transcends to an entirely different level of existence. Most interpretations are far less optimistic, however, and those with knowledge of such things point to the fate of the ancient Aeldari Empire as a warning of what doom awaits Mankind. Others still hold that this gradual and ever-increasing evolution is the doing of the Emperor Himself, who exists to shepherd the entire species into its new age. Those of a notably Puritan persuasion hold that for every psyker born, a thousand twisted mutants are spawned first, as if the process itself was abhorrent to the Emperor, to nature or to both.

Whatever the truth of the matter, it is evident that more and more Human psykers are being born or coming into their powers with every passing generation. The bleak holds of the Black Ships grow ever more bloated with those swept up in the psyker culls.

With this increase, the risk of Daemonic incursion and Enslaver plague in realspace grows worse, for should one powerful but uncontrolled psyker go undetected, the slavering denizens of the Warp might breach reality itself and come pouring in, bringing the doom of Humanity with them.

Astropaths

Sanctioned Psyker

An Imperial astropath

Astropaths (short for "astro-telepath") serve throughout all the Imperium's many governmental divisions and make up a superluminal telepathic communication network designed to transmit and receive psychic messages through interstellar space.

New astropaths are chosen from the multitudes of psykers who are born across the Imperium every standard year as part of the Imperial Tithe and brought to Terra on the Black Ships due to their great power. Once chosen, astropaths receive psychic training by the Adeptus Astra Telepathica's teaching division which is known as the Scholastica Psykana, before they are "soul-bound" to the Emperor. This psychic ritual transfers some of the Emperor's vast power -- and more importantly, His mental control -- to the psyker, by psychically rewiring a portion of their brains.

Such an experience is quite physically traumatic for the psyker and not all survive or maintain their sanity. Even the survivors often suffer damage to their physical senses, especially their eyes, so that almost all astropaths are blind, their optical nerves burnt out during the soul-binding process.

Their increased psychic senses, however, tend to make up for this loss of sight and most astropaths have the uncanny ability to see everything just as well as a sighted person despite their lack of vision.

Being joined with the Emperor is necessary, as it greatly increases astropaths' already formidable powers, granting them full control over the ability for which they were chosen -- the transmission and reception of telepathic messages across hundreds of light-years of space.

Due to the draining nature of their job and the costs incurred by soul-binding, many astropaths are physically frail and can die quite young due to sheer mental exhaustion.

Astra Militarum

Some of the stronger and more mentally-disciplined psykers recruited into the Adeptus Astra Telepathica are trained to serve within the Astra Militarum as Sanctioned Psykers rather than as astropaths. These psykers may draw upon the power of the Warp, unleashing it upon their enemies as a weapon.

They are also called upon to advise high-ranking Astra Militarum officers, though with varying degrees of success. Their limited training and equipment leads them to be more vulnerable to the perils of the Warp than the much more powerful battle-psyker Librarians of the Space Marine Chapters.

Each time a Sanctioned Psyker utilises their power, they put themselves at considerable risk and are prone to have their minds destroyed in the process. Some psykers in rare cases have even literally exploded from overloading their bodies with Warp energy, taking out entire Imperial Guard squads nearby. That ever-present danger aside, they are still a potent force when deployed and used properly. On the battlefield, Sanctioned Psykers can advise an officer and guide their command, protect him from psychic attack, or fire bolts of lightning from their hands.

Despite their uses, Sanctioned Psykers are at best tolerated, and at worst loathed, by their companions. They are never allowed to stray far from the ever-watchful gaze of the regiment's commissar, who can and will execute the psyker at the slightest sign of Warp taint, "for the psyker's own good!" The fact that many Sanctioned Psykers meet their demise at the end of a commissar's Bolt Pistol has earned them the dubious nickname of "bolt-magnets" amongst the rank-and-file soldiers of the Astra Militarum.

If a Sanctioned Psyker manages to survive a term of service in the Astra Militarum, they will be returned to the care of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, who will then test the veteran psyker thoroughly for mental fortitude and psychic might. If the psyker survives those tests, they will be trained to become a Primaris Psyker, and taught how to harness the power of lesser psykers and make it subservient to their own. When they rejoin the Astra Militarum, the Primaris Psyker will be able to form a "circle" or "coven" with other Sanctioned Psykers.

With the power of the circle at their disposal, the Primaris Psyker's precognitive predictions will be more accurate, their protective wards and abjurations more potent and their psychic attacks more devastating. And yet, for all their might and utility to the Imperium, even a Primaris Psyker is not spared the suspicious gaze of the commissar, and they too may one day find themselves executed by a Bolt Pistol shot swiftly and surely delivered to the back of the head.

Space Marines

SpaceMarineLibrarian

A Space Marine Librarian

Psykers are employed by the Adeptus Astartes in the form of their Chapter Librarians. These individuals are chosen from among the most powerful psykers in the Imperium whose abilities are then further enhanced by the transhuman augmentation provided by their Astartes gene-seed.

Librarians, as their name implies, are responsible for maintaining the records and histories of the Chapter they belong to, hence their name, and they can also use their talents to discern which psychic mutants are dangerous and which can be utilised by the Imperium as Sanctioned Psykers, astropaths, and even new Librarians.

Librarians, having much better equipment (a Psychic Hood, etc.), willpower, protection and training, as well as the transhuman physical and mental genetic enhancements of a Space Marine, are much less prone to falling prey to the perils of the Warp than other Imperial psykers and therefore do not undergo the soul-binding ritual.

On the battlefield, Librarians are fearsome opponents, able to unleash devastating psychic powers and psychically augment their own already formidable physical prowess. They are also skilled at defending themselves and their battle-brothers from psychic attack.

Imperial Inquisition

Though they are tasked with hunting down Rogue Psykers and collecting latent ones for training to aid the Imperium among many other duties, many members of the Inquisition are psykers themselves, Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor being an especially potent example.

Like so much about their organisation, one Inquisitor's psychic abilities can vary greatly from another's. Some are pyromancers who specialise in unleashing torrents of fire and other direct psychic weapons, while others, like Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn, are telepaths who specialise in powers that aid them in interrogations or to fool an enemy into stepping out from cover, dropping his weapon, or any number of other subtle "mind tricks."

Grey Knights

The elite Grey Knights Chapter of Space Marines that serves as the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition's Ordo Malleus, the Daemonhunters, is wholly made up of psykers: being a psyker is a condition for recruitment into the Chapter.

Due to the entire Chapter being composed of psykers, the rigorous process for becoming a Space Marine is made even more difficult, as all Grey Knight battle-brothers have no memory of their past due to a required mind-wipe and many fail before their gene-seed implantation can be complete.

However, the difficult selection process and memory-wiping techniques employed by the Grey Knights to rid their recruits of those common Human frailties that the Ruinous Powers can prey upon to corrupt an individual has proven extraordinarily successful. Not a single Grey Knight has ever turned to Chaos, despite their psychic abilities making them more vulnerable than standard Space Marines.

Craftworld Aeldari

Farseer Ela Ashbel

Farseer Ela Ashbel of the Asuryani

Among all the intelligent species of the galaxy, the Craftworld Aeldari or Asuryani as they name themselves, possess some of the most powerful psykers in existence, using their precognitive ability to divine the future to shape their fate while also unleashing devastating telekinetic powers upon those that oppose them.

However, the sheer power they generate when they combine their psychic strengths ensures they must be cautious to not attract the attention of Chaos and the other predatory entities of the Warp. They are forced to become highly disciplined and regulated in their usage of psychic power. Craftworld Aeldari psykers come in the form of either Farseers or Warlocks, the former being the more powerful psykers of the two.

Farseers will lead an Asuryani warhost against the enemy and shape the course of battle with their powers. Warlocks, former Asuryani Aspect Warriors who possess potent psychic powers because they have begun to walk the Path of the Seer, typically serve as bodyguards for the Farseers and possess lesser, usually defensive-oriented psychic powers.

The Ulthwé craftworld is said to possess the greatest number and the greatest quality of known Asuryani psykers due to its proximity to the Eye of Terror. They can divine much further into the future and with better clarity than the Farseers of the other craftworlds.

Craftworld Iyanden has a variant of Warlocks called Spiritseers. They differ very little from their more mundane counterparts, save to guide all of those Asuryani wraithbone constructs that are empowered by the souls of fallen Aeldari encapsulated within Spirit Stones. Spiritseers will guide Asuryani Wraithguards in combat, better directing those wraithbone constructs' awesome firepower for optimum efficiency.

Forces of Chaos

Fw psyker scan

A Chaos psyker

The forces of Chaos host a great many mutants among their number, including many with psychic potential. Chaos psykers, often called "sorcerers," can perform various tasks such as summoning Daemons and unleashing devastating weaponised psychic powers upon the enemy.

The Chaos God Tzeentch, god of change and intrigue, is devoted to sorcery; Chaos Space Marine Legions and warbands worshiping Tzeentch such as the Thousand Sons possess a large number of psykers that can aid in battle.

Other Traitor Legions such as the World Eaters who serve the psyker-hating Blood God Khorne denounce sorcery and psychic ability in favour of the wanton bloodshed of close combat. The Iron Warriors Traitor Legion often also sneers at the use of sorcery.

Chaos Sorcerers can unleash potent powers and are fearsome individuals, often mutated beyond recognition. Tzeentch-worshipping sorcerers are especially potent, able to perform feats that would leave even an Asuryani Farseer making sure their Spirit Stone is firmly within their grasp.

Leagues of Votann

GrimnyrAncestralStaveGreaterThurianLeague

A Grimnyr of the Greater Thurian League in battle, wielding his Ancestral Warding Stave.

Though they are a race of Abhuman clones, this does not mean that each Kin of the Leagues of Votann is exactly physically identical or that the Kin suffer from the common defects which can result from a lack of genetic diversity. The First Ancestors who were responsible many Terran millennia ago for shaping Kin society to deal with the environmental rigours of life in the galactic core engineered a series of stable mutations and unusual phenotypical expressions into their people's genomes which they named "cloneskeins."

In practical terms, these alterations provide the Kin with physiological enhancements over the Human baseline such as denser muscular and skeletal systems to provide greater physical strength and more endurance in the face of trauma. Their bodies are capable of higher red and white blood cell production to ensure the Kin possess more efficient respiratory systems that enhance their capacity for rigorous work and an immune system that is more effective at combating the effects of ionising radiation common to the galactic core.

There are many cloneskeins that were intended to provide specific physical benefits to those Kin that possess them. These include enhanced reaction times beyond those available to baseline Kin, the ability to see into the infrared and other electromagnetic spectra beyond visible light, increased resistance to extremes of temperature, gravity or ionising radiation, and many other enhancements that aid navigating the turbulent environments of the core.

Such genetic alterations also manifest in the phenotypes of those Kin who bear them, again giving the lie to the idea that just because the Kin are all clones, they are also all identical. Such expressions include an unusual colour of the skin or eyes by Human standards, altered subdermal layers displaying various craggy surfaces or ridges on the cranium or elsewhere on the body, unusual odours and similar cosmetic changes. These differences do not breed prejudice or other forms of discrimination among the Kin, who view them as the marks of valuable abilities and enhancements to the capability of the Kin to work or defend themselves that they were intended to be.

Alterations were also made to the Kin's mental acuity and psyches through unknown means, such that they are far less able to make use of the powers of the Immaterium -- or be affected by its unnatural denizens. Even those Kin who carry the psychoactive cloneskein are not literal psykers in the true sense of the word as Humans would understand it. Like a shuttered lantern whose aperture has been opened a little wider, the souls of these psychoactive Kin shine just brightly enough to mesh with barrier-tech that makes use of the energies of the Immaterium, such as Ancestral Warding Staves and armoured crests that can project psyker-like abilities.

The Kin's physical and mental hardening has made them much less prone to the physical mutations brought on by exposure to the energies of Chaos, and possession by Daemons or a Kin's corruption by Chaos are also blessedly extremely rare.

The Kin are highly resistant to the exercise of any powers upon them that draw upon the energies of the Warp. The downside, or some might claim the advantage, of this psychic hardening is the lack of true psykers among the Kin, for whom that mutation simply does not exist. Additionally, such psychic alterations also seem to have contributed to the conservative, stoic and deeply stubborn nature of most Kin.

In place of the psyker mutation, the First Ancestors provided the Kin with a specialised cloneskein that expresses itself among the Grimnyr, the Living Ancestors who serve as the Kin's primary link with the wisdom of the Votann and are the closest analogue that these highly secular people have to priests. These bearers of the psychoactive cloneskein are the only ones able to activate the advanced barrier technologies that the Leagues do possess to allow limited interactions with the Warp.

Orks

"Too much noise! Too much! I fink I'z gunna...I'z gunna...WAAAGH!"

— Weirdboy Gazrog
Agor the Mad - Ork Weirdboy

An Ork Weirdboy about to unleash the power of the WAAAGH!.

The Orks are an innately psychic species and they unconsciously generate a considerable amount of psychic "background noise," a psychic energy field known simply as "Da WAAAGH!". This field of gestalt psychic energy grows more potent and more intense as the number of nearby Orks increases and as the Orks themselves become more excited, particularly during battle, creating an almost palpable tension that accompanies Ork hordes.

Weirdboyz are the psykers of the Ork species, absorbing the energy of Da WAAAGH! and expelling it in violent surges of luminescent green power. Weirdboyz have little control over their abilities, and as the potency of this energy increases with the number and enthusiasm of the Ork Boyz around them, so does the power that a Weirdboy must endeavour to control. Even when they manage to contain this violent and erratic force, bizarre phenomena commonly accompany Weirdboyz, ranging from flashing lights and strange noises to psychokinetic tremors and random fires.

Should they fail to disperse, direct or emit this psychic energy in some controlled manner, a Weirdboy may cause even more dramatic phenomena, such as the explosion of nearby Ork heads. This is known as a " 'Eadbang" when the power is not discharged safely.

Weirdboyz are also found in Feral Ork armies, where they are known as "Wyrdboyz." Warpheadz are those Weirdboyz that -- unlike normal Weirdboyz -- have survived enough battles for their minds to become saturated with the power of the Warp, and actually revel in and enjoy the use of their powers.

Necrons

The Necrons cannot make use of psykers because, though a once-living species, they chose to have their living consciousnesses interred by the C'tan into Necron machine constructs composed of necrodermis for immortality at the cost of their souls. Since a soul is simply an individual's psychic imprint on the Immaterium, the Necrons are no longer capable of accessing its psychic power.

The Necrons are now living machines, beings of pure material like their masters who leave no impression on the Immaterium. The C'tan are described as creatures entirely born of the material realm, and thus they cannot sense or influence the Warp in any way. Thus they hate and fear the Immaterium and all things strongly connected to or influenced by it such as psykers.

The Necrons are notable for utilising technology specifically designed for destroying psykers, most prominently the Necron Pariahs. Necron Pariahs are an elite bodyguard that terrify any psykers in their proximity since no member of this group possesses a Warp signature and thus a soul. These Necrons, all of whom were once Human psychic "blanks," share the "Pariah Gene" in common with the Imperial Assassins of the Culexus Temple of the Officio Assassinorum, and both groups are the soulless victims of the insertion of the gene millions of Terran years ago into the proto-Human gene pool by the C'tan in the hope that they could be used as living weapons against the Old Ones and their psychic servant species like the Aeldari.

The C'tan would sooner feed off the thermonuclear power of a sun than deign to consume a single soul with its foul taint of Warp energy. Hatred of the psychic does not bar some contradictory evidence about the Necrons' use of psychic abilities, as seen when the Necrons emitted a fear-inducing telepathic ability, from which the Commissar Ciaphas Cain was saved only because of the presence of a "psychic blank" with the Pariah Gene in the vicinity.

Tyranids

The alien species of the Tyranids is one of the most psychically active races in the galaxy, if not the most, with every single Tyranid telepathically connected to all other members of its species through the psychic gestalt that is called the "Hive Mind." It is suspected that this constant and massive "psychic traffic" is what causes the "Shadow in the Warp," a phenomenon that makes Warp travel and astrotelepathy almost impossible in the vicinity of a large Tyranid hive fleet.

Though the lesser Tyranid bioforms have no psychic abilities of their own, the larger Tyranid Warriors act as focal points for the Hive Mind called "synapse creatures," capable of mind-controlling all of the lesser Tyranid bioforms around them.

Zoanthropes, creatures supposedly created by combining Tyranid DNA with genetic material from other psychically-active species like the Aeldari, are extremely powerful psykers. Their bodies have devolved into little more than a massively bloated head attached to an atrophied, fetus-like body incapable of even moving on its own power, therefore requiring the creature to use its psychic abilities to levitate across the battlefield.

Hive Tyrants are also very powerful psykers, although not as powerful as Zoanthropes, and act as the core of the Hive Mind within the Tyranid swarms. Larger Tyranids, such as Dominatrixes and the mysterious Norn-Queens, are also psykers of immense power, though the full extent of their abilities is a matter of speculation within the Adeptus Mechanicus.

T'au

The T'au have no known psykers. In the video game Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior, it is revealed that the T'au are naturally resistant to the mutating effects of Chaos, having almost no psychic presence in the Warp at all, though they are not soulless like the Necrons.

However, this did not prevent the T'au Ethereal, Ko'Vash, from being blasted apart by a burst of Chaos energy. It is rumoured that the Ethereals are capable of utilising Warp power, as it is suggested that this is how they are able to cause such loyalty to the Greater Good in all of the T'au.

However, it has been discovered by Adeptus Mechanicus researchers that the members of the Ethereal Caste possess a large, diamond-shaped, scent-emitting organ in their forehead which may allow them to control other T'au through the emission of pheromones or some other biological means, rather than the use of psychic abilities.

Psychic Disciplines

Although the powers of psykers are many and varied, they usually fall into one of several "disciplines." The five most common psychic disciplines are: Biomancy, Divination, Pyromancy, Telekinesis and Telepathy.

Each discipline has a particular character, which is reflected by the powers within it. The Telepathy Discipline, for example, is grounded in mind control, and its powers act through compelling and influencing the thoughts and actions of others.

It should be noted that, whilst two different psykers may both use the same discipline, their powers are likely to manifest in unique, idiosyncratic ways. So for example, an Imperial psyker using the Pyromancy discipline may hurl blazing bolts of fire shaped like an avenging, two-headed eagle whilst a corrupt Chaos sorcerer might conjure multi-hued conflagrations of living Warp fire and an Ork psyker or "Weirdboy" could vomit cones of billowing green flames.

Many of the other alien species and even different Imperial factions' psykers such as Astra Militarum Wyrdvane Psykers and Primaris Psykers or Space Marine Librarians also have access to their own, unique psychic disciplines and powers beyond what is listed here.

Some psykers specialise in only one discipline, honing a few powers to the exclusion of all others. Others manifest a much broader range of psychic disciplines and abilities -- in such cases, the psyker will be able to generate powers from several psychic disciplines.

Biomancy Discipline

Biomancers specialise in manipulating biological energy and metabolic processes with the power of their minds. They are masters of the flesh, learning to shape and influence the physical forms of themselves, their allies or their enemies, according to their will.

  • Smite - Lethal bolts of bio-lightning leap from the psyker's fingertips, tearing their foes apart.
  • Iron Arm - By transmuting their flesh into living metal, the biomancer can wade through enemy fire unscathed and pulp skulls with their bare fists.
  • Enfeeble - As the psyker channels their powers, tendrils of Warp energy lash over their victims, every caress sapping vitality from their bodies.
  • Endurance - Reaching into the metabolic essence of their allies, the biomancer knits together bones, heals flesh and banishes fatigue so that they carry on the fight.
  • Life Leech - With a twist of their gnarled hands, the wrathful psyker rips the life force from theirenemy, hoarding the stolen essence and using it to reinvigorate and restore their own injured flesh.
  • Warp Speed - The powers of the Immaterium flow into the psyker, heightening their speed to supernatural levels. A blur is the psyker amongst their enemies, felling the unrighteous with blows too swift to see.
  • Haemorrhage - Focussing their mutant mind, the psyker reaches forth and sets a fire within their victim's flesh. Within moments, the unfortunate foe's blood begins to boil in its own veins, tearing them asunder as it bursts from every pore.

Divination Discipline

Diviners seek to discern the hidden past of the galaxy and know the course of events yet to come. These abilities allow diviners to look into the twisting strands of the Immaterium in search of the answers they seek, and sometimes even influence the outcome of fate itself.

  • Prescience - The psyker can effortlessly predict the paths of bullets and swords alike. By focussing their witch-sight even more closely, they can guide their allies' aim, bringing a swift and merciless death to their foes.
  • Foreboding - Thanks to their Warp-gifted insights, the psyker and their allies are aware that their foes are about to charge, even before the foes themselves have realised it, allowing them to prepare a staunch defence.
  • Misfortune - With a click of their fingers, the diviner twists fate so that their followers' melee blows and ranged weapon shots punch through the weakest points in their opponents' armour.
  • Perfect Timing - As soon as their consciousness pierces the veil of the Warp, a rush of images floods the diviner's mind, foretelling the actions of their enemies, down to the merest microsecond. Armed with this information, the diviner's allies can predict exactly when their foes will peer out from behind cover and expose themselves to a lethal head shot.
  • Precognition - Having already witnessed the one true path to victory, the diviner strides across the battlefield like an avenging god of war. Whilst the premonitions run true, they are all but undefeatable, proof against bullet and bolt, blade and bombardment. However, should their self-wrought prophecies fade, or turn false, they will surely be doomed to ignominious defeat.
  • Scrier's Gaze - The diviner can see the whole battlefield clearly in their mind's eye, with the vantage point of a hunting hawk and the precision of a laser. The to and fro of armies and war machines is but the scurrying of ants beneath their omniscient gaze. Thus can the diviner direct exactly when and where they and their allies are most needed to turn the tide, leaving no clue behind as to how this trickery was achieved.

Pyromancy Discipline

A pyromancer is a master of fire and flame, a psyker who is able to create searing infernos out of thin air powered by the energies of the Empyrean. Pyromancy is one of the most spectacular and destructive forms of psychic ability, and those who face a skilled pyromancer in combat are oft-reduced to nought but a pile of charred bones.

  • Flame Breath - A torrent of psychically-generated flames pour forth from the psyker's eyes and mouth, engulfing the target.
  • Fiery Form - Bullets and shells pass straight through the pyromancer as they transform into an incandescent being of living Warpfire, striking out at their foes and setting their souls ablaze.
  • Fire Shield - With a sweep of their arms the psyker throws up a towering wall of flame to protect their allies.
  • Spontaneous Combustion - Focussing their anger, the pyromancer can melt or incinerate their foes in a heartbeat. Yet when their rage boils over, the unfortunate victim's body explodes in a blast of ash and roaring flame. Who can say how many will fall victim to the pyromancer's wrath before it is sated?
  • Sunburst - The psyker sings a wild song whose notes were old when the universe was young. As they do so, an incandescent aura appears about them, growing ever brighter and hotter with every refrain. Only when the song is ended does the aura explode, discharging its pent-up fury in a blinding, supernoval flash.
  • Molten Beam - The pyromancer claps their hands together and turns them outward towards the foe. As they do so, a white-hot beam of blazing energy bursts from their palms. It melts armour to slag and vaporises flesh, leaving only ghastly shadows in its wake.

Telekinesis Discipline

Telekines are able to manipulate the material world with the power of their minds, translating sheer mental power into physical force. These psykers can lash their foes with psychic energy, erect invisible force shields to protect themselves and even rend apart the fabric of reality.

  • Assail - Using nothing but the power of their mind, the psyker tears a boulder or rock from the ground and hurls it at the foe.
  • Crush - By reaching out their arm and clenching their fist, the psyker entraps their foe in a choking and crushing mass of psychic force. Gritting their teeth, the psyker continues the assault until flesh, armour and bone alike are ground to powder.
  • Gate of Infinity - The psyker punches a corridor through the roiling Immaterium, allowing them to cross great distances in the blink of an eye.
  • Objuration Mechanicum - Weapons jam and engines seize up as the telekine uses their powers to wrench and twist the inner workings at the hearts of nearby machines.
  • Shockwave - The psyker slams their palms together and the noise is magnified a hundredfold, releasing a sonic shockwave of pure psychic force that snaps bones and knocks foes off their feet.
  • Telekine Dome - Bullets bounce off of thin air and are deflected alarmingly towards enemy forces as the psyker erects a barrier of shimmering psychic energy about themselves.
  • Vortex of Doom - The telekine opens a tear between the material realm and the howling destruction of the Warp, unleashing raw psychic energies that utterly consume his foes.

Telepathy Discipline

Telepaths are psykers whose mental expertise lies with contacting and controlling the minds of others. With a single thought, a telepath can blast away their foe's sanity, induce states of numbing terror or possess their victim's thoughts and mould their actions as if they were the psyker's own.

  • Psychic Shriek - The psyker breathes in deeply the power of the Warp before emitting a banshee howl of psychic energy that shreds the minds of their enemies.
  • Dominate - The psyker reaches into their foe's mind, tramelling their soul and crushing the enemy's will to fight on, utterly dominating their psyche.
  • Mental Fortitude - Despair is turned into fresh hope and courage into insane heroism as the telepth projects inspirational thoughts of victory into the minds of their allies.
  • Puppet Master - The telepath possesses their victim's mind, controlling their movements, their aim and their trigger fingers as if they were marionettes.
  • Terrify - Even the bravest of heroes quake in terror as the telepath assails them with images from their own darkest and most dreadful nightmares.
  • Invisibility - Reaching into the minds of their foes, the psyker obscures themselves and their allies from the enemy's visual line of sight.
  • Hallucination - Paranoia, confusion and panic are heightened to a debilitating degree as the telepath alters their foes' perceptions of reality, creating fearful visions, confusing or befuddling the enemy, or even generating the belief that their fellows are the true enemy.

Psyker Grades

The Assignment

TainterPsyker

A Rogue Psyker consumed by the power of Chaos.

One system employed by the Imperium to quantify the power of psykers, called "The Assignment," uses different grades to incrementally rank psionic activity and the power level of a psyker. Comprised of a twenty-four point scale based on the ancient Greek alphabet, The Assignment simplifies the comparison of psykers to aid Imperial authorities like the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, the Sisters of Silence and the Inquisition in recognising possible threats.

Psykers exist within many of the intelligent species of the galaxy. Human psykers, Craftworld Aeldari Warlocks and Seers, as well as Ork Weirdboyz, are all psykers of this type. Beings such as the Chaos Daemons of the Warp are actually composed of pure psychic energy. There are also some species like the T'au, who are completely devoid of psykers or the ability to touch the Warp directly and thus project psychic powers. There even exists beings who could be called "anti-psykers," including Human Blanks and Necron Pariahs.

Due to their existence within many of the military forces of the Imperium and their relative abundance among the Imperium's many enemies, the Adepta Astra Telepathica devised a way to classify all the psykers it might encounter, which over the centuries developed into The Assignment used in the 41st Millennium.

The average member of Homo sapiens is judged to have a grade of Rho or Pi on The Assignment. These individuals cannot consciously or subconsciously draw power from the Immaterium and cannot become Daemonically possessed without being acted upon by an outside influence of the Warp. As the vast majority of Humanity still possesses no psychic ability, the average Imperial citizen poses little psychic security threat to their fellows.

Nevertheless, rare individuals are born every day on Human worlds with Assignment ratings exceeding Pi. By Imperial edict, these men and women are to be discovered and brought to the attention of the Inquisition and the Adeptus Astra Telepathica to protect the rest of Humanity against the possible harm they might do, including going Renegade or becoming possessed. With the multitude of threats that assault the Imperium on a daily basis, however, it is only truly practical for the Inquisition to investigate those suspected of Iota level psychic power or greater.

In the rarest of all cases, the twenty-four point scale of the Assignment does not adequately characterise a being of truly indescribable ability, such as the Emperor. Such individuals, for all intents and purposes, pass beyond the ability of the scale to quantify their abilities entirely. These subjects are classified as belonging to a "plus" or "reversed" scale, since the standard Assignment grading's naming convention is reversed.

When uncontained, plus grade psykers represent an immediate and catastrophic threat to the Imperium. In theory, there is nothing that a trained plus psyker cannot accomplish through force of will; from snapping a Titan in half to summoning a legion of Greater Daemons. A rogue plus psyker represents a terrible danger to Humanity, and the Ordo Hereticus of the Inquisition considers them among the greatest threats they must face in protecting the Imperium from the threats within its own population. The souls of plus psykers are poetically said to burn akin to a supernova within the Empyrean, a blazing beacon for those Daemons that flock to such individuals in the hope of being able to breach their their defences and possess their unguarded but incredibly potent minds.

Although rarely used, the precise terminology for a negative psyker or Blank carries a minus (-) symbol as a suffix. An "anti-psyker" of Omega grade is thus properly called an "Omega Minus" psyker.

The Assignment's individual rankings are indicated below, ranked from the least powerful to most powerful, top to bottom. The numbers in brackets illustrate a relative order of the qualitative terms, with 0 denoting an individual who is psychically inert, such as the average Human in the Imperium or a member of a species like the T'au that lacks all psychic ability. Negative numbers indicate negative or "minus" psychic levels, and numbers with a plus indicate the "plus" grade of psykers so powerful they are essentially unable to be truly graded by the scale.

  • Omega Minus (-7) - Omega Minus grade psykers are actually the "anti-psykers" usually referred to as "Untouchables" or "Blanks." These individuals are so inert in the Warp as to actually exhibit a negative psychic influence upon others. This primarily manifests in realspace as a region of "blankness" (hence the name) surrounding the individual where psychic powers will not work. It is impossible for psychic powers or entities native to the Immaterium to penetrate or affect this space. Imperial science has learned that the psychically inert region surrounding the Omega grade subject even interferes with natural bioelectric function in an organic brain. This neurological effect on others often results in the development of the irrational fear and loathing that baseline Humans nearly always display towards Blanks. This can even manifest in psychosomatic effects, such as thinking that the Blank emits a highly offensive odour. For psykers, however, the sheer presence of a Blank produces excruciating physical and mental distress.
  • Psi (-6) - This grade of The Assignment, which actually includes Psi through Sigma grades inclusive, represents individuals who are oblivious to fluctuations in the Warp and are immune to psychic probing by a telepath. The range of this ability varies, with the highest class at Sigma grade being deemed "blunt" or resistant to some psychic effects, and the lowest grade of Psi being extremely resistant to the effects of psychic power, yet still capable of being affected by an extreme degree of psychic strength.
  • Chi (-5) - See above.
  • Phi (-4) - See above.
  • Upsilon (-3) - See above.
  • Tau (-2) - See above.
  • Sigma (-1) - See above.
  • Rho (0) - An individual at Rho grade is incapable of manifesting any psychic abilities, but can be fully affected by them or other manifestations of Warp energy. This is the grade that encompasses the vast majority of Humans in the Imperium and serves as the baseline grade of The Assignment.
  • Pi (1) - Pi grade is the second of the two so-called "inert" psychic levels. Individuals ranked at Pi grade possess a minimal degree of psychic power that allows them to be sensitive to the fluctuations of the Immaterium. The manifestations of this ability are so insignificant that if they happen to be noticed they are quickly denounced as "good luck" or a pretension to a "sixth sense" on the part of the individual. These individuals are unlikely to be capable of being possessed by Warp entities.
  • Omicron (2) - At this grade of The Assignment, which includes grades Omicron through Kappa inclusive, the individual displays an unconscious and minor level of psychic brain activity. These abilities produce no truly noticable effects on the individual or their surroundings and most psykers of this grade are unaware of their status unless put to a full examination by an expert skilled in discerning psychic ability, usually another psyker. Although psykers of these grades are still legally under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition and the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, it is logistically impossible to exam every individual who might meet this grade of The Assignment across the galaxy. As the danger such individuals represent to Humanity is minimal, psykers of this grade generally never even learn that they possess any abilities at all.
  • Xi (3) - See above.
  • Nu (4) - See above.
  • Mu (5) - See above.
  • Lambda (6) - See above.
  • Kappa (7) - See above.
  • Iota (8) - At grades Iota through Eta inclusive, the psyker begins to display various extrasensory powers and is fully aware of their abilities and how they can alter their environment using Warp energy. Psykers of these grades, however, are only able to control their abilities with some effort. All psykers of Iota grade and higher are considered true psykers by the Adeptus Astra Telepathica and upon discovery are immediately turned over by their world's planetary government as part of its tithe to the Inquisition and the League of Blackships for transport to Terra.
  • Theta (9) - See above.
  • Eta (10) - See above.
  • Zeta (11) - Psykers of grades Zeta and Epsilon inclusive are powerful psykers who can manifest their abilities without significant effort and would represent a great danger to Humanity were they to be possessed by a Warp entity. However, should they possess the mental fortitude and undergo proper and rigorous training, they can become Sanctioned Psykers, Primaris Psykers or even Space Marine Librarians and thus provide good service to the Imperium.
  • Epsilon (12) - See above.
  • Delta (13) - Psykers of grades Delta through Alpha inclusive are extraordinarily powerful individuals, and such abilities manifest in only one out of every one billion Human births in the Imperium. Such psykers represent a primary threat to Humanity if they go rogue or become possessed, but if they possess the willpower and receive the training needed to control their abilities they can become psychically-gifted Inquisitors, Primaris Psykers or the greatest of Space Marine Librarians.
  • Gamma (14) - See above.
  • Beta (15) - See above.
  • Alpha (16) - See above.
  • Alpha Plus (17+) - Alpha Plus grade psykers represent the first of the "plus" scale psykers and are generally synonymous with that extraordinary level of psychic ability. They almost always display some level of neuroticism or even outright insanity as a result of their constant connection to the Warp. Should an Alpha Plus psyker go rogue or become possessed, they represent a threat that can destroy entire worlds or even star systems.
  • Beta Plus (18+) - The Beta Plus grade is considered the greatest level of psyker power that a normal Human being can achieve and still retain any semblance of sanity, although such mental stability is usually rare and almost always rapidly degrades once this level of power fully manifests. Such individuals are almost always targeted for liquidation by the Inquisition once identified.
  • Gamma Plus (19+) - Gamma Plus represents the greatest level of psychic power ever recorded being displayed by a "normal" Human. It is more widely achievable by some unspecified xenos species and Greater Daemons of Chaos, however even those entities are not known to exceed this grade in power.
  • Delta Plus to Epsilon Plus (20+-21+) - The Delta Plus and Epsilon Plus grades are only theoretical levels of psychic power that exist within the scale but have never actually been measured by the Inquisition or the Adeptus Astra Telepathica.
  • Zeta Plus (22+) - Zeta Plus grade is another solely theoretical grade of psychic power that is considered by the Adeptus Astra Telepathica to be the highest level of power organic neural tissue of any species could actually express without disintegrating.
  • Eta Plus to Omega Plus (23+-40+) - At these only theoretical grades of psychic power, the Adeptus Astra Telepathica believes that advanced psychic technologies or other psychically-resonant structures or constructs would be needed to assist an organic brain in channelling such a flow of Warp energy and even to maintain their survival. Such power could alter reality on a galactic scale.

The psychic power the top four grades represent is immense. Even a Delta level telepath can read the minds of all the people in a good-sized town simultaneously, or crush a man to death against a wall in solar seconds if they are also a telekine. High-grade psykers are extremely powerful, and not to be taken lightly. Beta Plus grade is the highest level of psychic power that a normal Human can attain and still be considered even remotely sane or cognisant of reality.

Any Alpha Plus grade or higher psyker, however, is a being of almost grotesque power. They are described as being able to "turn a man inside-out with a glance," "snap a Battle Titan in half with a flick of the wrist," and "a muttered syllable can turn an army upon itself in a frenzy of blood lust." They are capable of destroying entire worlds -- sometimes unintentionally.

Psyker Grade Examples

There is some controversy as to whether the depiction of psyker power levels explored above should be taken as an objective description of the Alpha level of psychic mastery, or if it is intended to be read as Imperial propaganda, and just the exaggerated view of the generally anti-psychic authorities of the Imperium. The Alpha grade psyker Esarhaddon is powerful enough to control hundreds of Imperial citizens as puppets, but he is not described as being powerful enough to destroy a Battle Titan, and was eventually subdued.

However, there are very few Alpha or Αlpha Plus psykers that can be controlled safely, or even at all. Because more powerful psykers attract proportionally more interest from Warp-bound Daemons, many are driven insane, tainted by Chaos, or even become possessed (examples include the Apex Twins, who were responsible for murdering scores of Astra Militarum regiments). They are one of the biggest threats the Inquisition has to face, and are one of the grave dangers to Mankind that the Ordo Hereticus was formed to combat.

Most such psykers are executed, as the threat they pose is simply too great to deal with or control to any large degree. The Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor was known to be an Alpha Plus psyker, but was later downgraded to the grade of a powerful Delta or weak Gamma. The Emperor of Mankind would be considered an Alpha Plus psyker, though in fact His power is so great that it probably cannot be measured by any mortal scale.

An example of a Beta grade psyker is Sergeant Agun Soric, an Imperial Guardsman who served in the Tanith First and Only Regiment. He was able to detect blood poisoning in a fellow trooper, but his most prominent power was his ability to write messages to himself, which were contained in a brass message shell. Even after throwing the shell away, he would soon find it wriggling in his pocket, containing a message written in his own handwriting.

At first the messages contained advice or warnings, but soon began to include criticism as he began to realise what he was, and the danger he posed as an untrained psyker. He eventually admitted his abilities to his regimental commander Ibram Gaunt and was taken by the Inquisition's Black Ships. He was later revealed to have become the Sanctioned Psyker of the 51st Cadogus Armoured Regiment, and was able to use his abilities to manifest from the Warp the ghosts of dead Tanith soldiers.

Most notably, he created a ghost of the Cadogus Regiment's Major Berenson and his aide, who the First-and-Only thought to be a normal soldier rather than a Warp echo. Berenson was later "killed" in a Valkyrie crash. When Commissar Hark, who was also involved in the crash, told the colonel of the 51st Cadogus that Berenson had been killed, the colonel replied that Major Berenson's Valkyrie had actually been shot down en route to meet with the Tanith 1st five solar days before!

Agun Soric was later mercy-killed by Commissar Hark, but told Hark before his death that what he had been using his ability for was to inform the troops of the Tanith 1st that Colonel-Commissar Gaunt was still alive -- he had been captured and tortured by the forces of the Blood Pact.

The Imperium has at times employed a different system of measuring psychic ability, where an individual's psychic profile is represented by a decimal value, presumably from 0 to 1, instead of using the Greek alphabet system employed by The Assignment.

Witch-sight

Witchsight

A latent psyker suffers from the visions offered by his witchsight.

Every psyker of every intelligent species possesses the ability known within the Imperium of Man as the "witch-sight" or "witchsight." Because psykers draw on the power of the Immaterium for their abilities, they can see the corona of psychic energy that surrounds every living being in realspace.

For sapient beings, this means being able to glimpse the nature of any psychically unshielded person's psyche -- their psychic "aura" in ancient Terran terms. Every psyker's mind interprets or experiences this information differently based on the nature of their own cultural and psychological constructs.

However, the one constant experienced by all is that individuals whose psyches are riven by the darker, more selfish emotions and motivations appear in witch-sight as degraded, Daemon-like monsters, while those of the opposite persuasion appear as pure or even angelic beings.

Psychic Blanks are those rare individuals who possess no presence in the Immaterium and thus are immune to being affected by psychic abilities, such as those Humans who inherit the Pariah Gene. When seen by witch-sight, the perception of a Blank usually causes an adverse, almost painful reaction in psykers, since they do not possess an aura of any kind and therefore register as psychically disorienting, essentially "blank" space in the fabric of reality, hence their name.

Aeldari psykers are known to possess much more penetrating witch-sight than even the most powerful of their Human counterparts.

Anti-Psyker Weaponry

Several types of anti-psyker weaponry have been developed by the Imperium, Necrons and other advanced species to counter psykers. For the Imperium, these include the Culexus Assassins and their Psykout weapons, which have devastating effects on psykers. Weapons particularly effective against enemy psykers include the Psycannon, Warpswords, Force Weapons, Psyk-Out Grenades and the use of other psykers.

The Necrons developed the blackstone Cadian Pylons that, once their network is complete, will completely separate the Warp from the material universe, thus rendering psykers powerless -- but also resulting in the slow, listless deaths of nearly every mortal race that possesses souls -- something the soulless Necrons need not fear.

On a smaller scale there are the Human Blanks like the Sisters of Silence and the Culexus Assassins, who are soulless and therefore severely debilitating to nearby psykers.

Lastly, the Drukhari, while not having any known psykers among their ranks, have developed weapons designed for psyker destruction to be used against their hated Asuryani counterparts. One of the most gruesome (and rare) is the Crucible of Malediction, a nightmarish device which contains the essence of a slain Asuryani psyker tortured into insanity. When the Drukhari use this weapon, the psyker's tormented soul is released and its power has the potential to consume any psyker on the battlefield as their minds are overloaded by the psychic cacophony of anguish.

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