- "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 Necrons, referred to as Necron Lords, managed to maintain their full sentience in the face of the growing dullness of their minds. 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 using an unknown technology, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Phylactery - A Phylactery is an inconspicuous charm but a powerful self-repair device, filled with tiny, spider-like robotic creatures that swarm all over a wounded Necron Lord, re-knitting his necrodermis body so that he may continue the fight.
- Resurrection Orb - A Ressurection Orb is an arcane device that enables a Necron Lord to augment the self-repair systems of a fallen Necron Warrior. With a gesture, the scattered remains of destroyed warriors crawl together before standing to do battle once more.
- 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 cerebal functions, transforming the victim into little more than a puppet under the control of the Scarabs' master.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 it 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.
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pp. 29, 89-90
- Codex: Necrons (3rd Edition), pg. 18
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 120-121
- Warhammer 40,000 Apocalypse, pp. 162-164
- Warhammer 40,000 Apocalypse Reload, pp. 50-51