A Necron Tomb Citadel weathering the ravages of time

A Tomb Citadel is a Necron defensive structure, a near-impregnable fortification designed to stand equally against the ravages of eternity, hostile action and deadly environments. Tomb Citadels often stand on the outermost borders of a wider tomb complex as watchtowers and outposts against attack, and indeed are often the mere tip of a Tomb World’s iceberg, with the fathomless depths of the Necrons’ stasis crypts, Canoptek construct foundries and endless silent galleries extending far below them.

These Tomb Citadels are more than inert relics of the forgotten past, however, and are near-living war machines in their own right. Imperial battle reports record these brutal structures as rising from the earth and even appearing as if from nowhere in the midst of a Necron assault as a foothold for invading forces which, if not quickly destroyed, will form a beachhead from which the dread undying legions will pour forth.



Space Marines of the Angels Revenant Chapter explore an inert Necron Tomb Citadel in the Orpheus Sector

It was during the Defence of Amarah during the Orphean War that the existence of Necron Tomb Citadels were first definitively documented by the Imperium of Man, most notably when the brave troops of the Death Korps of Krieg sacrificed themselves to destroy one such massive complex.

For it was in the rubble of the New Vassburg hive on the world of Amarah that something alien had manifested in the darkness. There, in the wreckage that had been strewn hours previously, a step-pyramid of strangely-angled green-black stone, riven with veins of pulsing emerald light, now rose up into the night, drawing bolt after bolt of lightning from the troubled skies above to strike its apex and causing it to burn with glimmering ghost fire. Around this pyramid had formed lesser citadels of the same maleficent stone, these being studded with arcane weapons emplacements and strange battlements connected to the main structure by angular trenches filled with glowing fog. Around the pyramid complex the skeletal figures of Necrons moved in tireless patrol and tides of Canoptek Scarabs and other constructs swarmed in and out, dragging a multitude of corpses and wreckage fragments with them to feed the pyramid’s hunger. Against this stronghold of the enemy Marshal Venner of the Imperial Guard's Death Korps of Krieg ranged his forces for attack, even as intelligence came in from forward observers of alien stars being seen in the rent-open storm above the pyramid through which blasted flares of emerald energy that surged up from its apex with deafening reports.

As they moved into position, each of the men of the Death Korps assault brigade knelt in silent ordered ranks, crouching in the rubble and waiting for the call to battle as alien, viridian lightning flashed and flickered in the shrouded night. Between the ruins in which the Death Korps marshalled and the Necron defences lay was a rough kilometre of open ground, blasted flat and scorched, marking the killing zone they would have to cross to reach their objective. The signal was given at last and the Death Korps rose as one and began to advance across slowly, evenly gathering pace as they left the rubble and entered the blasted ground.

Immediately the curving arcs of Sentry Pylons materialised on the walls of the citadels and turned to track the advancing human army, arcs of power visibly flaring along the strange Necron battlements. Then the killing began. Howling beams of emerald energy blasted great swathes of men from existence, while Tesla Cannons spat volleys of lightning that left anything they touched as burning cinders. Hundreds fell in the first few moments but the Death Korps line did not waver in its advance and now, from deep in the ruins behind them, their own guns spoke. Impassively, forward artillery observers had noted the range and disposition of the Necrons’ heavy weapons and marked them for destruction. Venner had ordered that no munitions were to be spared, no cannon left in reserve, and the Death Korps' Basilisks and Praetors answered his call with a furious bombardment, sending tonnes of shells into the air to fall like deadly rain on their targets.


A Tesseract Ark defends a Tomb Citadel against the enemy

Instantly the pyramid and its sub-citadels were wreathed in a mantle of flame as hundreds of shells burst against the structure. The pyramid flickered for a moment like a miracle on the horizon before becoming solid once again, one of its outlying obelisk towers blasted to fragments in a stream of arcing lightning. Soon, as the bombardment lashed out again, great chunks of black masonry were torn free from the structure and an eerie howl cut across the battlefield, clearly audible over the thunder of the shellfire. The Necron firepower was quickly redirected upwards, sweeping the skies and blasting apart the shells before they could reach their target, and in the respite the Death Korps pressed their advantage, surging forwards while Venner’s tank companies held back until now, when they roared forth from the rubble at flank speed through the Death Korps lines towards their objective.

As the Imperial troops closed to a few hundred metres, the ground before the citadels burst open, disgorging murderous Canoptek constructs directly into the oncoming Death Korps troops. The huge articulated bodies of the Canoptek Tomb Stalkers rose up and tore through the lines, whilst hundreds of smaller Canoptek Scarabs dragged men down, stripping the flesh from their bones. They were met with Bayonet and Lasgun, Flamer and Frag Grenade, and the Death Korps flowed like a tide around the killing machines whilst the tank companies entered range and opened fire with their Battle Cannons into the ranks of the shambling Necron Warriors that were beginning to stream from the citadels.

On the left flank, a squadron of Macharius Omega plasma tanks unleashed blasts like miniature suns towards the defence pylons, heedless of their overheating cannons in their determination to strip the citadel of its defences. While on the right, Centaur carriers sped forth through a storm of Gauss Weapons fire, which blasted scores of them to shrapnel, in order to deploy their Quad Launchers as close as possible to the enemy. Thousands fell, tanks erupted into fire and a blizzard of shells was hurled against the black pyramid which began to break and crack, smoke billowing and actinic lightning playing sickly across its splintering surface.

Behind the Imperial lines the companies of Krieg troops left behind to defend the artillery position found themselves beset and in a desparate battle to stave off twisted, blade-handed Flayed Ones that came for them from the shadows, just as Necron Attack Craft shrieked from the skies to strafe them into oblivion. The squadrons of Imperial Lightnings and Avengers that tore through the night to intercept the lethal Night Scythes were few, but bravely they dove straight into the heart of the enemy squadrons, their weapons blazing in the darkness, each pilot commending their soul to the Emperor and knowing that this would be their final battle.

The die was cast, the battle was held in balance and there could be no holding back. Already tens of thousands lay dead on the blasted plain before him, but Venner did not falter in ordering forth the second wave. Raising his sword high and leading the charge himself across the deadly ground, the Death Korps filled the battlefield like a living tide of steel and fire, and crushed the remaining Canoptek constructs that barred their path, trampling the scattered scarabs into the earth. The Death Korps reached the outer citadels of the pyramid complex just as their own shellfire began at last to falter, but for the Necrons it was too late, the enemy was already upon them, the human soldiers swarming like ants across the alien fortifications. Surrounded, Necron Warriors were brought down in murderous crossfires and the machine creatures were driven back and destroyed one by one, as for every Krieg Guardsman the Necrons slaughtered, a dozen more took their place. Everywhere across the structure Breacher Charges were slammed into place and Melta Bombs were hurled into energy conduits and cracks in the armoured edifice. The violent detonation of the black pyramid blinded onlookers five kilometres distant and carved an ash-white crater out of the wasteland that was clearly visible to vessels in orbit above the battle-savaged world.

Anatomy of a Tomb Citadel


Dorsal schematic of a Necron Tomb Citadel


Schematic of a Necron Tomb Citadel

All Necron Tomb Citadels include a Tomb Ziggurat as part of their structure, its faces rising high above the surface of the citadel. Contained within one of the forward faces is an Eternity Gate, a dark portal that is capable of transporting Necron troops to the battlefield from elsewhere in the galaxy. Its shimmering energy field is nothing less than a captive wormhole bound into the very heart of the Monolith. With a simple mental command, the Tomb World's command algorithms can transform the Eternity Gate into a portal of exile, and those that fail to resist its pull are sucked out of reality entirely, banished forever to an extra-dimensional prison from which there can be no escape. Alternatively, the Necrons can use the Eternity Gate as a form of dimensional corridor, pulling squads of Necron troops from elsewhere on the battlefield, orbiting starships or even far-distant Tomb Worlds and deploying them to the Tomb Citadel’s location. It can also significantly boost the regenerative processes of the Necron squads that move through its transportation matrix.

Each Tomb Ziggurat also incorporates a scarab hive similar to those possessed by Canoptek Spyders, which allows the structure to expend some of its energy to create Canoptek Scarab swarms. However, there is a small chance that the Citadel will drain excess energy in the production of a swarm and overload the scarab hive, leaving it inoperative until it can be repaired. Those Canoptek Scarabs that are produced will often be sent to affect repairs under the direction of the Tomb World’s main command algorithms, but can just as easily be sent to repel enemies that threaten to assault the Tomb Citadel.

The Tomb Ziggurat itself is no mere inert structure however, but is also an energised dock to which a Necron Monolith or Gauss Pylon can teleport. Doing so allows the docked war machine to harness the Tomb Citadel's immense power supplies, empowering its weapon systems to a degree that, when unleashed, will annihilate anything their firepower touches. However, should the Tomb Ziggurat be destroyed by enemy fire, the docked construct will suffer dangerous energy feedback from the structure’s detonation and is likely to be severely damaged, if not destroyed outright.

All Tomb Citadels also mount a Power Crucible upon their surface. Each of these large power generators and storage devices generates a defensive power field around the Tomb Citadel to protect Necron units defending it, and also amplifies nearby Necrons’ abilities for regeneration and reconstruction.

Some Tomb Citadels have also been upgraded with up to two static automated gun-emplacements, which can be either twin-linked Tesla Destructors or twin-linked Gauss Exterminators.

Notable Tomb Citadel Complex Arrangements

Tomb Fortress

As a Necron Tomb World recovers from the millennia it has spent dormant, hidden from the eyes of younger races, its various bastions and redoubts will begin to return to their former glory. Power crucibles will once again blaze with light and ziggurat portals will re-ignite, allowing the recently re-awoken warriors of the world’s controlling Necron Dynasty to stand ready to repel any who would dare disturb the rise of their Necron Overlords. A Necron Tomb Fortress is one of the larger types of redoubts that can be found on those worlds once claimed by the sprawling empires of the Necron Dynasties and forms a defensive position that, when occupied by its undying masters, can resist all but the most overwhelming of attacks by the pitiful armies of the Necrons’ enemies.

On Eyrinyral, a world the Eldar had long laid claim to as one of their so-called Maiden Worlds, dozens of Tomb Fortresses were suddenly revealed, lost amongst the tangled roots of ancient and towering jungle trees, as the Necron Sekhmat Dynasty woke and laid claim to their ancient domains. The Eldar of Eyrinyral rallied quickly and moved to assault the newly awoken dynasty, hoping to overwhelm their ancient foe before they fully awoke. Their assault broke upon the Tomb Fortresses that had arisen, but the few defending Necron Warriors that had awoken were rebuilt time and time again by the resurrection amplifiers of the fortresses, while each Eldar warrior who fell was irreplaceable. Within a few months the Eldar were driven from Eyrinyral as the Sekhmat Dynasty’s ancient armies spilled from the Eternity Gates within the fortresses on the surface; butchering those who would dare dispute their masters’ claim to the world.

On other worlds, these huge fortifications have been recorded simply appearing from nowhere; phasing into existence on worlds that have never known the Necrons’ influence, before disgorging a horde of silent metal killers from the gates mounted within their ziggurat towers. The appearance of such a mighty fortress upon a world is a promise of death for all who dwell there, as that world is now claimed as the domain of one of the many Necron Dynasties once again stretching forth their power into the galaxy.

A Tomb Fortress is a large type of Necron defensive structure, and essentially consists of two smaller Tomb Citadels directly adjacent to each other to create an indomitable fortress.

City of the Dead

Fullyactivated Tomb Complex

A fully-activated Necron "City of the Dead" complex

The Imperial Adeptus Mechanicus survey team who first encountered one of these defensive structures named it a "City of the Dead," so grand was its design. Coming across the deserted Necron facility on an isolated world to the galactic south, the survey team did not realise its true nature; believing it to be a small self-contained xenos colony of ancient design. However, beneath its sprawling surface fortifications they found kilometres of silent, steel corridors and echoing chambers that could have held thousands of people. They came across no sign of those who might have built such a grand structure, but within hours members of the team began to vanish. Only once they had found the mangled bodies of the missing Explorators did they realise the danger they were in, but by then it was too late. The metal corridors and vaults began to fill with light, and the high towers shimmered as pyramidal war machines appeared atop their peaks, beams of crackling energy swatting the fleeing Adeptus Mechanicus shuttles from the sky. Imperial Guard units, assigned to investigate the team's disappearance, found an immense fortress protected by flashing wards of gauss energy, hordes of silent metal guardians and batteries of terrible weapons waiting for them; few returned to warn their masters of the fate of the Adeptus Mechanicus survey team. Since that incident, standing orders within the Imperial Guard call for the deployment of orbital strikes as the only possible counter to the appearance of these Necron monstrosities.

A Tomb Fortress is a supremely massive and sprawling fortification piece, and consists of four smaller Tomb Citadels directly adjacent to each other. In this formation, the individual Tomb Citadels can network their power and amplify their abilities. With this additional power, a City of the Dead is able to project a defensive barrier formed of flickering green gauss energy -- a Gauss Bisector Field. Any trespasser or assaulting enemy foolish enough to step through the barrier is swiftly reduced to smoking chunks of flesh. Docked Monoliths may also use the City of the Dead’s power grid to overload their Particle Whip weapon systems, combining their fire to form an apocalyptic barrage of energy capable of annihilating anything it hits.


  • Imperial Armour Apocalypse (2013), pp. 84-89
  • Imperial Armour Volume Twelve - The Fall of Orpheus, pp. 16, 20-21, 47, 50, 128-129


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