“Men are made from blood and bone like metal made from dust
Men are bound to die alone like metals bound to rust” – Will Varley
I. Kill Team conundrums.
Like many others, the siren song of Kill Team drew me back into the hobby. I have always loved Warhammer, but the introduction of a brand new format to play it in, has reinvigorated my interest. Kill Team suits me to a tee as I am unable to concentrate of hobbies for large periods of time and painting up a dozen men if much more attainable for me than painting a legion. As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to play Necrons before I got an opportunity to see the rules. Luckily for me, Necrons are simple to play; there’s little customisation (I won’t be bogged down in trying to make the ‘right’ loadouts for my miniatures), they don’t require the tactical genius of Ursarkar Creed (sorry) and they’re dead durable. In my first game, my leader refused to stay dead on multiple occasions in the match; Reanimation Protocols make them dead jammy.
The one problem with Necrons for me, is they aren’t the most… inspiring of races. I’m not sure what it is exactly about them, but there is a certain disconnect there for me. It’s not that, as someone I played again suggested, that they are characterless, because that doesn’t bother me at all (I’ve played Tyranids and Vampire Counts in previous years, both of which are generally not renowned for their individuality). I think it may be their retconned lore. I loved the idea that the Necrons are this utterly implaceable ancient menace who cant be reasoned with, and want nothing else than to destroy those meddlesome interlopers who have set up shop on their planets. This got changed, and suddenly the Necrons are rather occupied with taking over, enslaving, and creating a dynasty that will last for millenia. Certainly, they are much more characterful now, but a little less…alien, I suppose. Maybe I just preferred the notion of ‘not knowing’ their motives.
I needed to find a way to make Necrons feel sinister again. And I needed to find a way to make Necrons individual enough to satisfy my creative itch when making them. Luckily for me, inspiration hit.
II. Flaying seems quite nasty.
In 3rd edition, the Flayed Ones were created when Necrons went mad. In specific cases, when the Necrons bedded down for a several million year nap, some were unfortunate enough to not actually sleep. Suspended in animation, but completely aware for the entire time, these poor souls went completely insane, and somewhere along the way, developed a penchant for making suits out of skin. Additional tidbits include that perhaps they are trying to regain their fleshy forms they once had, before they became metal skeletons. I loved this lore. It was equally tragic, and creepy. When Necrons were revamped, they changed their background a bit. The Flayed Ones were now victims of a C’tan curse, that instilled within them a desire to flay, and consume the flesh of living creatures. Other than that, Necron ‘lore’ on Flayed Ones seems quite sparse. This is a blessing in disguise, as it allows me to take some ‘creative licenses’ with the lore, and develop my own headcanon on why my Necrons are the way they are.
I decided the theme of my Necron Kill Team would be victims of the Flayer curse. These Necrons come from a Dynasty that suffered severe misfortune. By the time the Necrons began to descend into their crypts to slumber for millenia, the Flayer Curse was already well known by the Necrontyr. Imagine the horror that would have occurred within a Tomb World that realised that one of the Necrons about to go to sleep was in fact carrying this terrible virus. This is the backdrop for my Necrons; as the Tomb world was going into stasis, a ‘flayed outbreak’ was identified. Too late to do anything about it, the entire dynasty went into stasis, not knowing if the Necron to their side was sound of mind, or if they were lost to insanity. Fast forward several millennia, and the Tomb World’s automatic reanimation protocols begin to wake the legions up, but by now, every warrior has been exposed to the virus that slowly spread throughout the catacombs during their eternal rest.
I envision that my Kill Team are either the last survivors of this Tomb World, or are the first to make it to the surface, and are all at different stages on insanity. Contracting the curse does not instantly transform a warrior into a Flayed One afterall. It may take years before the curse fully erodes the mind and deforms the body, and there could be a hundred different shades of grey from a sound of mind Immortal, to a fully fledged Edward Scissorhands.
III. Warriors, come out to play!
Necron Warriors have no minds at all to begin with, as part of the transference of their minds into the necrodermis left them with no individuality. They simply became emotionless puppets for their betters to command. This is a double edged sword however, as their lack of independent will makes them unable to to resist the Flayer curse, and once infected, they quickly transform from regimented warriors to insane and debauched murderers. Often the most disgusting examples of body mutilation can be seen carried out by these Necrons, who give their minds over completely to the Flayer Virus.
Necron warriors will often take further steps than simply flaying their victims. They will carry off mutilated bodies for later; though for what purpose, is currently unknown. It matters not to their masters; as long as they are sane enough to point their weapons still, the self mutilation of their Necrodermis, and the taking of ‘prisoners’ matters not.
In insanity, Necrons Warriors tend to display more individuality than they ever were capable of in sanity. The grisly trophies taken are unique from warrior to warrior, though this one seems to have taken an almost scientific curiosity with the human mind.
Others simply pile themselves high with mutilated flesh in the hopes it will return to them the flesh and blood bodies they once lost.
The orientation of the reclaimed flesh does not matter to the Necrons however. The chest of an unfortunate victim, along with their lower mandible, is flung across this Necrons back. Whether it understands that it is essentially wearing it’s new skin back to front or not, or simply doesn’t care, is an entirely fruitless debate. The sight of this creature is wholly horrifying in its grotesque visage.
IV. The shakes
Deathmarks are deadly assassins of the Necron civilisation, able to drift in and out of reality at a moments will. This ability to ‘phase’ into and out of existence makes them terrifying foes, but it is their weapons, Synaptic Disintigrators, that make them truly horrifying. The projectiles from these weapons, when they hit, and Deathmarks rarely miss, cause extreme trauma to the victims brain matter. If their target survives the initial shot, they are left as dribbling, incoherent wrecks, their minds utterly ravaged. Whilst this in itself is horrifying enough, Deathmarks who are losing their minds to the Flayer virus are invariably worse. They seek to incapacitate their victims by way of partially destroying the brain, rather than an instantaneous and merciful death. Once they have disabled their victims, the Flayed Deathmarks will then close the distance between them and proceed to flay their targets, whilst they are still partially conscious. The severe brain damage normally leaves their victims unable to resist as the Deathmarks peel the skin from their bodies with delicate precision. It is no wonder then, that Flayer Deathmarks are wrapped in the largest, and most intact cloaks of skin of all the Flayed Ones.
The minds of the Necrontyr often are affected by the transition from flesh to metal, and Immortals are no exception. Unlike the warriors however, an Immortal still maintains a chilling spark of their mind intact, as well as much of their independence. This makes them more resistant to the insidious effects of the flayer virus, but also tragically self aware of their own descent into depravity. The warriors may revel in the grotesque butchery of their foes, but the Immortals abhor the grisly work, yet find themselves unable to resist the unnatural compulsion to join in.
(Ignore the blue tac) The Immortals, once proud icons of Necron might, are quickly becoming caked in the mire of their less restrained brethren. Some are even beginning to enjoy their newfound freedom.
An unusual quirk of the Flayer Virus upon Immortals is the unnatural compulsion to collect the heads of those they have defeated in battle. This Immortal is no exception, and wears a necklace of skulls around his neck.
V. Those that fell
Once a Necron is completely insane with the desire to flay and dismember, the necrodermis (the living metal they are constructed from) will change its form to better assist in its grisly work. Fingers become bladed talons, legs alter to become more adept at moving with speed, and their bodies grow elongated and serpentine.
Necrodermis, whilst able to change its shape, doesn’t change rapidly. In usual circumstances, Necrodermis is usually only required to re-heal damage to their exoskeleton. The Flayed Ones require much more from their Necrodermis, and whilst the metal complies, the process is neither instantaneous, or symmetrical. This Flayed One’s right leg has developed an extra joint to aid it in moving quickly, but it’s left leg has yet to develop, leading to it walking with a pronounced limp.
The Flayed Ones are perhaps even more barbaric than their less developed brethren. Their uncontrollable compulsion to pile masses upon masses of flayed flesh upon themselves can lead to the point where they are almost entirely obscured by it, moving as if covered by a heavy shroud.
Underneath all the stinking, bloody pelts however, there seems to be something more insidious going on. The Necrodermis changes the shape of the Necron into something better at murder, but is it the end of their transformation, or just another step on the road to something truly horrific?
And that’s my Kill Team! I had a blast building and painting them. Especially painting them, which is a first for me. Let me tell you, working with the Nighthaunt Glaive Wraiths, whilst it seemed like a good idea at the time, turned out to be an absolute nightmare. They did however make some very characterful looking Flayed Ones.