- – Ancient Martian proverb
The Skitarii, also known as Tech-Guard, are the private militant arm of the Adeptus Mechanicus and are proof that even the Imperium can be surpassed, in terms of grimdark, by lobotimized metal robots with a fetish for toasters.
Derived from Latin 'Scitari' which means 'to seek to know’. This represents another instance of the GW pseudo-Latin we all know and love. In the singular tense they are referred to as Skitarius. The low gothic pronunciation would be 'Ski-tar-ree,' whereas the high gothic would be 'skit-ar-ree-aye.' Although the classical, and dare I say proper, Latin pronunciation is 'Ski-tar-ree-i'. The difference is a matter of Skub.
Under the Treaty of Olympus Mons (commonly known as the Treaty of Mars outside the Adeptus Mechanicus) Forge Worlds are not required to give manpower over to the Imperial Guard under the Imperial Tithe, so they are allowed to raise, train, and equip their own Planetary Defense Forces. Since they don't have to provide an endless supply of cannon fodder offworld and have access to the lion's share of the Imperium's industrial and technological capacity, the Forge Worlds of the Mechanicus can afford to field soldiers with gear beyond the bare minimum of acceptability. Standing somewhere between the Guard and the Space Marines in terms of ability, the Skitarii have access to absolutely everything the Adeptus Mechanicus can create.
The only things they don't use are the Land Raider (which is due to a decree by the Emperor reserving it for the Adeptus Astartes during the
Great Crusade Horus Heresy - like that stops the Inquisition...) and Dreadnoughts (though in theory they could, they just prefer carving up your brain and making you a servitor instead). Like the Guard, there is little standardization among Skitarii units. For example, they can't quite seem to agree if the greater unit is called a cohort or a brigade. Additionally, Skitarii will vary from simple gun-servitors under a few commanders to gene-enhanced augmented humans with major equipment.
Having existed since at least the Great Crusade, a Skitarii brain is altered to maintain their loyalty and obedience. Some are just psycho-surgically or biochemically altered, while others are full-on lobotomised. According to recent lore, one way the Tech Priests control legions of Skitarii are by messing with their brains from SPEHHS, firing off signals to make each and every one of those little bastards think they're being manipulated by the Omnissiah himself. On the plus side if, after their "indoctrination", they have anything resembling a working brain left, it'll usually be capable of some high level multitasking: a Tech-Guard officer will proficiently dual-chainsword-duel with you, while happily chatting with his fellow Skitarii on the vox in binaric cant, simultaneously catch up on his unread messages, recompiling the kernels in his cybernetic implants and trolling all the boards of future-#chan at the same time. So yeah, they're different than their service/slave counterparts.
Speaking of differences, Skitarii from different forge worlds don't always share the same look. Some prefer the classic "red-robe-with-hood" Martian style, while others wear Imperial Guard-like uniform, and some could be purely functionalist with no clothes beside armour - just name the style, and somewhere in the galaxy there is a forge world with similarity dressed Skitarii (except for THAT style, you sick fuck). One of the most popular styles the Skitarii employ is to wear fabulous fur coats, fang talismans and grisly trophies, commonly associated with Death Worlders and Space Wolves; these are intended to terrify opponents. As if half-robot/zombie soldiers aren't terrifying enough. They can appear so terrifying that loyalist Skitarii are indistinguishable from their Dark Mechanicum counterparts to the casual observer.
They are generally the first line of defence on Forge Worlds and other Mechanicum installations. However, they also serve as marines (in the traditional sense) for some Explorator ships, and act as dedicated infantry and vehicle support for Titan Legions when they are deployed. Because the Mechanicum also likes to make friends and has allies, and Forge Worlds, everywhere, the Skitarii also serve as mercenaries or allies in many Imperial armies and crusades. Additionally, most Space Marine chapters can call on Mechanicum support should need arise. This is double so for the Grey Knights, as Titan is orbited by the former natural satellite of Mars turned into a minor forge world, Deimos, where all of Grey Knights' gear is made, and it has its own Skitarii contingent.
Also, they can be played on the tabletop, like a weird hybrid of Tau, Necron, Craftworld Eldar, and
guardsma... ahem.. ASTRA MILITARUM Imperial Guard THE WALL OF GUNS, and seem to be the 40k equivalent of the Skaven, except that they're not fucking furries! Who needs Emprah loving humies/post-humie/heretic/xenos scum anyway?! Everyone knows the Omnissiah is where it's at!
Types of Skitarii
The Skitarii comes in many flavors, some deadlier than others. All of them can twist off your head and shit down your neck. Here are the examples:
Skitarii Alphas are the squad commanders of Adeptus Mechanicus Skitarii formations. These cybernetic warriors have the highest level of augmentation among their kind, a position of high prestige in Martian culture. To become an Alpha, one must pass the Crux Mechanicus, the point where your body is more machine than flesh. Their human components have often been reduced to a simple organic brain. They are the leaders of any Skitarii and are equivalent to a Space Marine Sergeant.
For an example of this in the fluff, Alpha Primus Haldron-44 Stroika was augmented to have four arms with in-built Arc Mauls and auto-reloading Arc Pistols, as well as having the ability to coordinate tens of thousands of Skitarii while simultaneously tearing apart Dark Mechanicum troops in melee and at range. He even managed to hold his own against an Iron Warriors Warsmith-slash-Obliterator for a few minutes, only to be half-ripped apart and unwillingly turned into a Dark Mechanicus assassin after he took off the Warsmith's arm.
Of particular note is the fact that many Martian Skitarii Alphas were failed Imperial Knight nobles of House Taranis. Although failure to bond with an Imperial Knight typically drives the would-be pilot insane, emotive-suppressors and memory-catheters are able to keep their rages in check. House Taranis asks in return that their Skitarii cohorts are assigned to fight alongside their Knights, so that the Nobles can still fight alongside their former brothers. It's kind of heart-warming, if in a grimdark way.
A new Skitarii rank, the Skitarii Marshal is the head honcho in directing lesser Skitarii at the front lines and leaving the important plans up to their superiors. They are over-glorified lieutenants for the Machine God’s armies and will ensure their Rangers make the most of every shot. Like all Skitarii, they wear Skitarii War Plate into combat.
Decitor Septrax-Tertian is the most well-known of these Marshals, as he took part in the Charadon Campaign. He proved to be one of the most skilled and resourceful Imperial commanders of the war.
On the tabletop, these guys act as unit buffers and supports and it totally shows. Toting a Radium Carbine (sadly not a pistol, but assault) as well as a weapon equal to a power maul to go bonk if any enemy decides to close in for an attack.
Very useful in that they allow a nearby <Forge World> Skitarii or a <Forge World> Skitarii Data-Tether unit anywhere on the board to ignore the penalty applied when using a Doctrina. An example is with the Skitarii Vanguard, simply placing them with a Marshall allows for additional rerolls, and given that Vanguards wield Radium weapons, these rerolls are gonna get disgusting.
The great weakness is that they have zero repair ability, which is funny given that they are from the AdMech and all, so you'll need another HQ to cover that niche or your army will get whittled down over time.
Mindful of the harsh terrain of Mars, their legs have been removed from the knees down, replaced by cybernetic augmentations. This has made their stamina legendary, and they are known to hunt a foe until it exhausts itself. Skitarii Rangers themselves are split into the Skitarii Fresh-forged which are essentially the most recent additions to a Skitarii Ranger team. They differ to normal Skitarii as their remaining flesh is still raw from the surgery involved in bionic modification. There is also the Skitarii Specialists who are given the holy duty of carrying and maintaining the Skitarii kill team’s more unusual weaponry.
Their weapon of choice are Galvanic Rifles, though others may be armed with Arc Rifles, Transuranic Arquebus', or Plasma Calivers. A Skitarii Rangers team is led by an Alpha, normally equipped with Radium Pistol or Arc Pistol as well as a Power Sword, Taser Goad, or Arc Maul. They all wear Skitarii War Plates for protection in combat.
Some Rangers control the guns on the Dunecrawler (they are the dude in the hatch).
On 9th Edition, the Rangers' 30" Galvanic Rifles have enough range to contribute to fights and the S4 needed to be a bother, which makes this squad great at garrisoning backfield objectives and ruins. While they put less volume of fire than Vanguard, their guns' better range, strength, and AP-1 on a 6+ to wound make them more effective against single-wound infantry than Rad carbines. All in all great value from the cheapest unit in your army. Unless you are sitting on backfield objectives (which our HS are normally doing) vanguard will often be better considering the difference is 1pt a model.
Skitarii Vanguards, known informally as Rad-Troopers, are the other type of Skitarii infantry used by the Adeptus Mechanicus. Skitarii Vanguards are so soaked in radiation from their Radium Carbine weaponry that even to approach them is to invite death.
Eventually, the radiation burns through even their heavy armor plating of even their Skitarii War Plate, slowly poisoning them to death. Their augmentations and radioactive conditioning has allowed Skitarii Vanguards to be deployed to the most hazardous war zones the galaxy has to offer.
A Skitarii Vanguard squad is led by an Alpha, equipped with either a Phosphor Blast Pistol, Radium Pistol, or Arc Pistol, as well as a Power Sword, Taser Goad, or Arc Maul. These guys are there to rape infantry in close quarters.
Vanguard are also used in the Onager Dunecrawlers as the pilot. They're basically dumped into the same kind of emulsion tank some Titan pilots get. They don't last very long but on the plus side no more getting killed by small-arms.
On 9th Edition, Vanguard are your Skitarii frontliners. Their 18" Assault 3 Rad Carbines let them advance and still hit on a 4+, and their rate of fire is such that their 2D on a 6+ to wound can proc enough times to be a concern to heavy infantry while still dealing lots of hits to the smaller ones. With their Rad saturation aura (-1T is better than +1S), they can also help as melee support to Sicarians and Electropriests and melee soup allies.
Sicarian Ruststalkers are the elite Skitarii assassins of the Adeptus Mechanicus and an attempt to make an Eversor Assassin look like a rehabilitated good Samaritan (spoiler: a failed one). Initially an elite assassination squad, the Sicarian Ruststalkers proved so effective at the art of killing that they were repurposed as front-line, physics-manipulating commandos.
Their Transonic Weapons hum and resonate with efficiency, passing through the strongest armor as if it simply didn't exist, though the effect of the damage often takes several seconds to manifest. These highly trained and augmented squads known as Killclades are led by Princeps.
Every Sicarian was once a Skitarii who was grievously injured in battle. If these fallen are judged still fit to serve the Omnissiah, they are not incinerated but instead taken back to be augmented into lethal killing machines. This process can take place as long as a Skitarius possesses a head, torso, and some limb-stumps. Instead of a Skitarii War Plate, they wear the more advanced and protective Sicarian Battle Armour.
Sicarian Ruststalkers also called "shivs", a reference to a way they repeatedly plunge their transonic weapons into their enemies, visible only as a blur of blue and arcing sprays of scarlet blood. These weapons are the Chordclaw, Transonic Razor and the Transonic Blade.
On 9th Edition, Sicarian Ruststalkers have some utility at dishing out Mortal Wounds, and are faster than Fulgurites, but fulgurites and hoplites perform the same role better.
The sneaky counterparts to the Skitarii forces that also bears an uncanny resemblance to Alpha-5 from Power Rangers. Sicarian Infiltrators are the brutal Skitarii scout troops of the Adeptus Mechanicus, renowned as perhaps the most sinister warriors of the Mechanicum.
Heavily augmented into more machine than man, the Sicarian Infiltrators are a hideous, frightening strike force - the height of Adeptus Mechanicus posthuman engineering. When hunting, they emit from their domed helmets a white noise that fills all sensory spectra with static, leaving their foe disorientated and helpless and incredibly irritated. Enemies fall, deafened and blinded by the scree of a brutally disruptive audiovisual assault; battles are often decided before even a single kill is confirmed.
Infiltrator squads can bypass enemy defenses with ease, though not because of their stealth but rather their disruptive wavelengths they broadcast when on the move. These scout squads are led by Princeps. Regular Skitarii warriors sent to fight alongside Infiltrators are given null-codes that can transmute their disorientated wavelength frequencies, allowing for efficient combined-arms assaults.
As with their Ruststalker brothers, every Sicarian was once a Skitarii who was grievously injured in battle.
Heavily modified for their scouting missions, almost their entire human heads have been replaced with a specialized domed helm allowing a three-hundred and sixty degree view of the battlefield. They are equipped with a wide array of weapons including Stubcarbines, Flechette Blasters, Power Sword, Taser Goad, and Arc Maul. They, like the Ruststalkers, wear Sicarian Battle Armour instead of War Plate into battle.
On 9th Edition, they are one of the only units debuffed in engine war. The taser variant that used to destroy hordes has been weakened, the power sword variant that wrecked marines hasn't changed. They can deep strike. They have a -1 to leadership within 3". Just remember to keep them in cover until you're ready to charge them because they still suffer from T3 and only a 4+.
Protectors were soldiers and guards that worked in the Adeptus Mechanicus.
They were genetically engineered and augmented Humans that wore red robes and bronze masks that showed green mechanical eyes. Members of the Protectors typically carried weapon staves and served as the personal guards within a Techpriest's Forge.
They were noted to smell of spoiled, decayed meat and oils. Skitarii Protectors were much more commonly used during the Horus Heresy and most were deemed ineffective by the Martian Priesthood. Instead, the use of thousands of Tech Thralls became more popular when it came to defending forges and/or Forgeworlds, especially when the Mechanicus was short on full blown Skitarii.
Which, in true Warhammer fashion, makes no sense as they are made in the same way and Protectors, being actual Skitarii, would have been far more effective and just as numerous as Tech Thralls (due to being made in the same way as the Thralls). Dammit, GW!
There were only two known Protectors.
The first was Rho-mu 31, who, instead of being an individual, actually consists of an entire squad; Rho-mu 31 was a collective and shared identity. Serving under Tech-Priest Koriel Zeth, Rho-mu 31 was assigned to rescue and guard the Psyker transcriber Dalia Cythera shortly before the Schism of Mars. During the Schism, he took part in the battle against the Kaban Machine alongside Dalia. When Dalia was the new Guardian of the Dragon, Rho-mu pledged to stay by her side and protect her inside the Noctis Labyrinth. Unusually for Skitarii, Rho-mu 31 was capable of some forms of humor and emotion.
The second was Alpha-Rho-25. A Protector assigned to the Imperial defense of the Emperor's Webway Project and was one of the first Imperials to uncover Drach'nyen's presence there.
Other Skitarii Variants
Secutarii are the protectors and recoverers of Titans, and many are drawn from the service of normal skitarii from the Exploratory Fleets who show great affinity working with Titans. Their own article explains them more in depth.
New cyber cowboy units previewed at LVO. The Serberys Sulphurhounds are revolver-wielding Vanguard who ride cyborg horses with flamers for faces. The Serberys Raiders are styled like the Rangers and ride tamer looking cyber steeds.
Winged cousins of the Sicarians that have the same Da Vinci style of flight gear as the Archeaopter. Possess some mean looking bird legs as well as a range of weapons such as flamers and taser goads.
++We are DaVincian-pterodactyl-murdercyborgs now! Because FUCK YOU!++
- Skitarii tactics
- This sums up the Skitarii (be sure to kitbash your squad alpha so he gets an abs-mounted heavy weapon!)
- And again with related images