|This article relies on references to primary sources. (September 2008)|
In the fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000, the Necrons are a race and a playable army in the tabletop miniatures wargame. They are an ancient race of skeleton-like robots who are awakening from an aeons-long slumber and fighting to reclaim the galaxy from the younger races.
Tabletop game mechanics
Necrons are characterized by strong ranged firepower and tough armor. Many Necron units possess the ability to "reanimate" after being slain and fight on. Being soulless, the Necrons have no psykers (though they do have some "spellcaster-like" units), which makes them somewhat more vulnerable to psychic attacks.
The Necrons first appeared as usable units for Warhammer 40,000 as Necron Raiders. The rules for these were first published in White Dwarf Issue 216 towards the end of the lifespan of the second edition of Warhammer 40,000. At the time, only Necron Warriors and Scarabs were given game rules and the warriors were armed with Gauss-Flayer Guns. This was quickly followed up with an expanded army list in the following month's issue of the same magazine. The Necron Lord and Necron Destroyer were part of this slightly-expanded army list. At the time, the lord was armed with the Staff of Light while the destroyers were armed with Gauss-Cannons. The issue of White Dwarf also had the Necrons' first major appearance in a battle report in the article entitled Massacre at Sanctuary 101, a battle between the Necrons and the Sisters of Battle. This particular altercation soon made its way into the background material as one of the first times the Imperium officially encountered the Necrons. The first Necron miniatures, all metal, were also released during this time. In fact, a free Necron Warrior was included with issue 217 of White Dwarf.
In the release of the third edition of Warhammer 40,000 in 1998, the Necrons had no usable army list. The first, full-fledged Necron army list for the new edition of the game was printed in the March 1999 issue of White Dwarf. This first army list was very restrictive, with the Necrons having mostly one choice per force organization category. The Necron Lord, Necron Immortals and Necron Warriors were the only available HQ, Elites and Troops choices respectively. This early army list had two units for the Fast Attack selections, Necron Destroyers and Scarabs. The latter were different from their current counterparts in that the original Scarabs were controlled individually and were not swarms on a single base as they are today. The Necron Immortal metal miniature was released at the same time as the publication of the army list. In a later issue of White Dwarf, Games Workshop further expanded the Necron army list by providing different equipment choices (wargear) for the Necron Lord. Along with the Gaze of Flame and Scourge of Light upgrades, this was the first time that the Veil of Darkness wargear was added to the Necron Lord's available options.
The Necrons received their first, full sourcebook with the release of Codex: Necrons in August 2002. The book featured a wealth of background information expanding upon the origins of the Necron race and expanded the scope of the Warhammer 40,000 history by several million years more. A full army list was also introduced in the sourcebook, with heavily revamped rules for existing units and the introduction of new ones. New units introduced in the codex were Flayed Ones, Pariahs, Wraiths, Heavy Destroyers, the Necron Monolith and the C'tan. New miniatures were produced and released alongside with the release of the codex. Necrons received their first plastic miniatures kit in the form of the Necron Warriors boxed set, which contained enough parts to make twelve Necron Warriors and three Scarab bases with four Scarabs each. The boxed set was a first for Games Workshop, as it was the first time that transparent, coloured parts were included in a boxed set along with the standard polystyrene parts. The transparent, green rods in this case were meant to be used as part of the Necrons' gauss weaponry. The Necron Destroyer model was also revamped and made into a plastic kit. Whereas the old, metal version was essentially a Necron Warrior riding a flying platform, the new Necron Destroyer plastic kit featured a Necron Immortal torso mounted and merged with a floating platform. The other miniatures released for the army were metal, such as the Flayed Ones, Immortals, Pariahs, Wraiths and the Necron Lord. Two more miniatures soon followed suit - the massive Necron Monolith, the largest miniature kit produced by Games Workshop at the time, and the Necron Destroyer Lord, a Necron Lord mounted on a Destroyer body.
The Necrons were once creatures of flesh called the Necrontyr. Their race was a fractious lot, so their ruling council decided to provoke a war with another alien race called the Old Ones, hoping that an external enemy would unite their people. This move backfired, as the Old Ones nearly crushed them and the disillusioned Necrontyr started fracturing again.
At this point, the godlike beings known as the C'tan approached the Necrontyr, offering them a means to achieve unity, immortality, and a tactical advantage over the Old Ones: they would transfer their minds into robot bodies. In the process, they lost their souls, which the C'tan devoured.
Together, the C'tan and the Necrons defeated the Old Ones, driving the survivors from the galaxy. The Necrons then turned on and destroyed C'tan. Though successful, this rebellion inflicted catastrophic casualties on the Necrons. The Old Ones' creations, the Eldar, would have crushed the Necrons in this state, so they decided to entomb themselves in crypts and slumber for sixty million years, hoping the Eldar would have died out by then.
In the 41st millennium, the Necrons begin to awaken. Due to equipment malfunctions, most of the slumbering Necron suffer serious mental damage and awaken as near mindless drones. Only the aristocracy, who were given more robust care upon entombment, survive with their minds intact.
The galaxy is, ironically, now a more dangerous place than ever, but going back into slumber is not an option, and all Necrons are programmed to fight for the restoration of their old empire, no matter what.
- "Necron Raiders - Background". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 217: 27–31. February 1998.
- "Necron Rules". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 217: 32–34. February 1998.
- "A Desperate Mission - Scenario: Imperial Guard vs. Necrons". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 217: 35–36. February 1998.
- "Necron Onslaught". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 218: 24–27. March 1998.
- "The Valley of Death - Necrons Background". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 218: 73. March 1998.
- "Massacre at Sanctuary 101 - Battle Report: Sisters of Battle vs. Necrons". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 218: 28–37. March 1998.
- "New Releases - Necrons". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 218: 122–123. March 1998.
- "New Releases - Necrons". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 230: 114. March 1999.
- "Chapter Approved: Necrons". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 239: 73–75. December 1999.
- "Index Xenos: Resurgent Evil - The awakening of the Necrontyr". White Dwarf (UK ed.) (Games Workshop) 271. August 2002.
- Chambers, Andy; Haines, Pete, McNeill, Graham, and Hoare, Andy (2002). Codex: Necrons (3rd ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-190-7.
- "Chapter Approved: Codex: Necrons designers' notes". White Dwarf (UK ed.) (Games Workshop) 271. August 2002.
- "Necron Awakening: A look at the Warhammer 40,000 Necron miniatures released this month". White Dwarf (UK ed.) (Games Workshop) 271. August 2002.
- "Turn One: New Releases - Necrons". White Dwarf (US) (US ed.) (Games Workshop) 271: 4. August 2002.
-  @ the Unofficial Warhammer 40,000 Encyclopedia