Not all of the unique characters in the 40K universe are quite up to snuff. Let’s try and fix that.
Warhammer has a lot of really cool lore to draw on, which is one of its biggest strengths. And as part of that lore, there are a lot of really neat personalities with very interesting backstories. Featuring these characters on the tabletop can be a lot of fun, but many times in the the codex they don’t quite live up to their reputations because of GW’s rather careless rules design. This is sad, because no one wants to read about someone who is described as “one of the greatest swordsmen in the galaxy, capable of slaying any foe” only to discover that they are WS5 I3 A2 with a Power Sword.
So let’s see if we can’t fix up some of these errant codex entries and give them a bit more oomph to fit with the way they’re described in the fluff. To avoid getting entirely stuck on some of the crappier books, I’m going to limit myself to only one entry per faction- otherwise we’d spend the entire article just trying to make CSM and Tyranid characters usable. Please note, I won’t be including all the fluff for these characters in the article- I might suggest reading up on each of them in the links provided if you’re curious about their histories and why I would have them doing what they do.
Trazyn the Infinite……140pts
WS5 BS5 S5 T5 W3 I2 A3 Ld10 Sv3+ Infantry (Character, Unique)
Staff of Light
Surrogate Hosts: The first time Trazyn the Infinite would be removed as a casualty, roll a d6; on a 2+, instead select one Necron infantry model in your army and replace it with Trazyn, restoring him to d3 wounds. On a 1, remove him as a casualty as normal.
“Ah, Another Piece for the Collection!”: Trazyn and any unit he joins have the Objective Secured rule. If Trazyn is in base contact with an objective at the end of the movement phase, he may pick it up in exactly the same manner (and limitations) as The Relic; however, Trazyn may not carry more than one objective at a time and may not pass the objective to other models in his unit. If Trazyn is removed as a casualty or moves more than 6″ from his starting position in any phase (including being moved as a result of his Surrogate Hosts ability) he will drop the objective.
Rng: – S: +2 AP: 4 Melee, Psionic Shockwave
Psionic Shockwave: If one or more models are slain by this weapon during a close combat, each other model with the same faction as any of those models suffers an automatic hit that wounds on a 4+, with AP-.
Trazyn is one of the best characters (and stories) in all of the fluff, or at least he was until they cut all of the interesting parts out of the 7E Necron/Inquisition codices. But if you have access to the old 5th Edition Necron and GK books, go back and read up on the story between him and Inquisitor Valeria- it’s both hilarious and perfect for the tone of the game and if the idea of a perfectionist robot hoarder who writes lethal letters to people doesn’t amuse you, nothing will.
Fixing Trazyn is actually relatively easy; we revert his Surrogate Hosts ability to being able to hit more actual Necron models (rather than just the singular other HQ you can take alongside him currently) and let him actually collect things the way he is described doing so in the fluff- since there are already models for picking up and carrying objectives around in the game we can simply repurpose those. Also we give him Mindshackle Scarabs because wait, why did they take those away from him?
WS4 BS5 S3 T3 W3 I3 A3 Ld9 Sv4+ Infantry (Character, Unique)
Fight on Foot: Darkstrider can only join Breacher Teams, Strike Teams, and Pathfinder Teams.
Fighting Retreat: Each time Darkstrider makes an Overwatch attack, he (and any unit he has joined) may immediately make a consolidation move of d6″ in any direction.
Structural Analyzer: When Darkstrider (and any unit he is a part of) choose a target for their shooting attack, any vehicles in the unit suffer a -1 reduction to all applicable Armor Values for the duration of the shooting phase and any other types of model suffer -1 to their Toughness for the duration of the phase (to a minimum of 1.) The Analyzer does not function when making Snap Shots.
Darkstrider is an interesting idea for an HQ and an okay try and making something workable, but he definitely needs some help. He has several limitations (weak statline, not cheap, can only join specific units) and two very small advantages. So let’s expand him out a bit- give him Stealth so that being on foot with his squad isn’t a complete death sentence and make it so his Structural Analyzer will actually work as described and help you target weak points in the enemy list to hit them for massive damage. This helpfully weakens deathstars for us (because fuck deathstars), but the innate weaknesses of having it on a T3/4+ character on foot mean that it can’t get completely out of control- a lot of the time, you’ll get one volley out of it before the enemy decides that he has to die.
WS6 BS9 S3 T3 W3 I6 A3 Ld10 Sv5+ Infantry (Character, Unique)
Move Through Cover
Preferred Enemy (Necrons)
Mark of the Incomparable Hunter
Sharpshot: Shots fired by a model with this rule, other than Snap Shots, are always Precision Shots as described in that special rule.
Walker of the Hidden Path: If Illic deploys by himself or with a unit of Rangers, he may Infiltrate anywhere on the battlefield outside of Impassible terrain and more than 1″ away from enemy models. Alternately, he may be joined with another unit that lacks the Infiltrate rule, in which case he and that unit follow the usual rules for Infiltration.
Master of Pathfinders: While Illic is alive and on the battlefield, all Rangers in your army have the Sharpshot special rule.
Rng: 48″ S: X AP: 2 Heavy 1, Sniper, Voidshot
Voidshot: Hits from this weapon always wound on a 2+ and always inflict a glancing hit on a 4+. On a result of 6 to wound it has the Instant Death rule, and on a result of 6 to penetrate it inflicts a penetrating hit instead of a glancing one.
Illic is another character that I like the idea of, because there are so few shooting HQs in the game, but his execution falls rather flat. So: we make his Sharpshot rule apply to all Rangers in the army so that there is more of a reason for you to take anything other than Scatter Bikes (albeit an insufficient one.) We let him do some Infiltrate shenanigans, because isn’t that sort of the point for a guy who is supposed to be a master sneaker and guide to the webway? And we cure the big deficiency of his rifle, namely the fact that while it may hit most all of the time the previous version still only wounded half the time. Now it will generally hit and wound, but you still need to get past cover and Look Out Sir for him to achieve his goal, which feels pretty fair.
Lucius the Eternal….140pts
WS7 BS5 S4 T4 W3 I6 A3 Ld10 Sv2+ Infantry (Character, Unique)
Champion of Chaos
Mark of Slaanesh
Veterans of the Long War
Duelist’s Pride: When in a challenge, Lucius’s Attacks value is equal to the Weapon Skill of his opponent (plus any other modifiers as normal.)
Armor of Shrieking Souls: Lucius has a 2+ armor save and a 4+ invulnerable save. Any time he passes a save during the Fight sub-phase, the unit which inflicted the wound on him immediately suffers a S4 AP2 hit in retaliation.
Blade of the Laer/Lash of Torment:
Rng: – S: User AP: 2 Melee, Shred, Paired
Paired: The user gains the +1 attack bonus for fighting with two weapons.
Alright, GW, here’s the skinny: combat characters that don’t have any kind of transportation (bike, steed, jump pack, assault transport) are very rarely any good at all because 6″ per turn just doesn’t cut it. Also having weak defenses and no ability to penetrate 2+ armor makes for someone who is complete garbage. Also, Lucius is carrying the friggin’ Silver Sword gifted to him from the armory of the Primarch of his Legion why is this thing not even a Master-Crafted weapon why is it just a generic power sword ARRRRRGH.
So yeah. We give him some better protection, we make his melee weapons worth a damn, and suddenly Lucius is looking a lot scarier- he gets a LOT of attacks at high initiative and has the potential to bounce back hits against the enemy unit, which can be surprisingly scary.
WS4 BS3 S10 T7 W5 I2 A4 Ld8 Sv3+ Monstrous Creature (Character, Unique)
Feel No Pain
Living Battering Ram
Alpha Leader: While Old One-Eye is alive, your Tyranid models within 24″ automatically pass Instinctive Behavior tests. He may also join units of Carnifexes as though he were an Independent Character, even though this is not normally permitted.
Berzerk Rampage: Old One-Eye makes a number of bonus attacks equal to the number of models in base contact with him at his initiative step. If he is slain before attacking, you may make his normal complement of attacks (without benefit of Berzerk Rampage) before removing him as a casualty.
OOE’s design in the codex is just utterly baffling- in a book that is specifically designed to be reliant on Synapse coverage with built-in penalties for having it broken and constantly described in the fluff as essentially losing the battle when that happens, he is conspicuously lacking this ability. And no, his shitty “use my mediocre Leadership value” does absolutely nothing to mitigate the problem. So, let’s do a couple things- first off, we’ll give him an ability to actually make your army theoretically function without having Synapse in it (even if it’s a bit risky); second, we’ll make him scary enough in a fight that people might actually worry about engaging him. Third, we’ll make him able to actually stay alive instead of just getting punked out instantly by some random Plasmaguns or whatever.
WS8 BS5 S5 T4 W3 I6 A5 Ld10 Sv2+ Jump Infantry (Character, Unique)
Aura of Fervor: All other Blood Angels models in units within 12″ of the Sanguinor have +1 Attack.
Avenging Angel: Before the beginning of the game, choose one character in the enemy army; the Sanguinor can reroll all to hit and to wound rolls against the chosen model and his weapons have the Instant Death rule against it.
Flickering Phantom: Enemy units which are more than 18″ away from the Sanguinor may not target him with shooting attacks. The Sanguinor also has a 3+ invulnerable save.
Sword of Fury:
Rng: – Str: User AP: 3 Melee, Master-Crafted, Warpbane
Warpbane: This weapon has the Fleshbane and Smash rules when attacking Daemon models.
The Sanguinor wasn’t great in the 5E BA codex, but he at least did something sorta interesting- I have no idea what they were thinking when they updated him. They took away all of his relevant abilities and weakened the few that they allowed to remain. So now he’s… a badly-equipped Captain who isn’t allowed to join squads? How epic and engaging.
My attempt at fixing him makes him more of what he’s intended to be- a support/assassination piece who excels at hunting Chaos threats as well as a fairly tough and mobile HQ choice in a lot of ways, although he is still pretty weak to getting swarmed in melee or hit from point-blank range. Might be a bit expensive overall, but I don’t feel awful about him.
WS9 BS9 S3 T3 W3 I9 A5 Ld9 Sv6+ Infantry (Character, Unique)
Shardnet and Impaler
Power from Pain
A League Apart: When fighting in a challenge, Lelith may reroll all failed to hit and to wound rolls.
The Penetrating Blade: Armor saves cannot be taken against Lelith’s melee attacks. On a roll of 6 to wound with such an attack, no saves of any kind may be taken.
Quicksilver Dodge: Lelith has a 4+ invulnerable save. This increases to a 3+ invulnerable against wounds inflicted during the Assault phase.
As much as I liked the old version of A League Apart, just having Rampage and the new version ends up being better most of the time- Lelith’s biggest problem, as always is that she’s just a wimpy lil’ Eldar and thus can’t push above S3 most of the time. So rerolling wounds in various ways is a decent start, and having the wounds that she does cause be pretty much guaranteed things also helps a lot- it doesn’t matter what kind of fancy shield or forcefield you have, she’s gonna stick a knife where the sun don’t shine. Her “updated” version of Dodge would also help out Wyches a lot, though that’s a subject for another article.
WS8 BS4 S4 T4 W2 I6 A3 Ld10 Sv2+ Infantry (Character, Unique)
Preferred Enemy (Daemons)
Psyker (Mastery Level 2)
Purity of Spirit
Castellan Crowe knows the Banishment, Hammerhand, and Cleansing Flame powers from Daemonology (Sanctic).
The Ultimate Warrior: When fighting in a challenge, Crowe has the Smash rule and can reroll all failed saving throws.
Master of Purifiers: An army containing Castellan Crowe must take 1-3 squads of Purifiers; these units do not use Elites slots, but are otherwise treated as normal units. Crowe harvests warp charge on a 3+ when casting the Cleansing Flame power and may use it as many times per turn as available dice permit.
Blade of Antwyr: Enemy models within 12″ of Crowe have the Rage special rule, and any such Daemons also have the Hatred rule due to the unholy influence of the sword.
Crowe has always suffered from issues, but his current version has the big problem of “why do you even exist?” He’s not actually good at anything and while his nominal purpose is winning duels, he’s not really even very good at that. So let’s make him be as good as he can in a challenge and also give him some flavor as being the purest dude in the whole galaxy. Cleansing Flame is a really good power and being able to set it off three or four times in a turn is potentially a huge advantage, even if it does consume most of your psychic dice. It’s also nice to have a few cheaper characters here and there, so while I could plate some other abilities on and inflate his cost, I think it’s fine where it is.
Chapter Master Kayvaan Shrike…….150pts
WS6 BS5 S4 T4 W4 I5 A4 Ld10 Sv3+ Jump Infantry (Character, Unique)
And They Shall Know No Fear
Chapter Tactics (Raven Guard)
Angel of Death
See, But Remain Unseen: Shrike has the Infiltrate and Stealth special rules. When he Infiltrates, you may choose to have one unit of Raven Guard Jump Infantry deploy with him, following the usual rules for Infiltration.
The Raven’s Talons:
Rng: – S: User AP: 3 Melee, Master-Crafted, Rending, Shred, Paired
Paired: The user gains the +1 attack bonus for fighting with two weapons.
This guy really needed the help- he was almost completely nonfunctional as he was written in the codex, and while Space Marines are hardly in need of a boost, Raven Guard are so rarely seen at tournaments that I think it’s fine to have him get updated a bit. The big thing here is to make his Infiltrate stuff actually work properly, since as per the codex he cannot join any units of any kind at the start of the game- clearly not the intention. Since he has also been promoted in the fluff (as per the Mont’ka book) he deserves a statline upgrade to reflect his new status as well as the benefit of the Orbital Bombardment rule.
N’kari, the Feast of Sorrows……195pts
WS9 BS6 S6 T6 W5 I10 A6 Ld9 Sv- Monstrous Creature (Character, Unique)
Daemon of Slaanesh
Preferred Enemy (all types of Eldar)
Psyker (Mastery Level 2)
N’kari generates its powers from the disciplines of Telepathy and Excess.
Celerity of Slaanesh
Devourer of Souls: In any Initiative step in which N’Kari slays one or more enemy models, it gains one Wound (up to a maximum of ten.) If the chosen model was any type of Eldar, N’kari instead gains +1 each to Wounds, Strength, and Toughness.
Grand Revelry: Whenever one of your Slaaneshi units within 12″ of N’Kari forces destroys an enemy unit or forces it to fall back, all Slaaneshi units within range the Feel No Pain rule and may reroll results of 1 to hit until the end of your next turn.
Who? Yeah, here’s the thing- Slaanesh has NEVER gotten a named Greater Daemon in any of its codices for some reason. Are GW just idiots? Do they keep forgetting? I’m not sure, but I say fuck it because Slaanesh is way more interesting than Khorne (whose entire schtick is “I like the same thing that everyone in the galaxy likes”) and Tzeentch (who is essentially a living 9/11 conspiracy theory.) So yeah, fuck those guys, I’m gonna say that the character in the Daemons book that needs the most help is the one that doesn’t exist.
N’kari is known for a number of things in the fluff, but devouring what was left of Malan’tai was one big one. I wanted a second unique ability to go with that and since in the early versions of the fluff N’Kari was know for lascivious feasts and celebrations I thought that was a fitting sort of thing to have- a party so rad that it makes your units immortal is definitely a Slaaneshi thing.
WS4 BS4 S3 T3 W3 I4 A3 Ld10 Sv3+ Infantry (Character, Unique)
Rng: 12″ Str: 10 AP: 1 Pistol, One Use Only
Forceshield: Valeria has a 4+ invulnerable save against all attacks.
Hyperstone Maze: Once per game, instead of making her normal close combat attacks Valeria may unleash the Hyperstone Maze on one enemy character in the combat and within 2″ of her. That character must immediately make a characteristic test against its starting Wounds value or be removed as a casualty.
Runes of Destiny: Successful saves taken against Valeria’s attacks must be rerolled.
The Dagger of Midnight:
Rng: – Str: User AP: 3 Melee, Sentient
Sentient: When attacking with the Dagger, Valeria makes two additional attacks which must be rolled separately; for each of these attacks that roll a ‘1’ to hit, Valeria suffers one hit (using the weapon’s normal profile) instead of her target!
You thought I’d forget about Valeria after mentioning her in the intro? Oh no, my friend, not at all. With a few tweaks to make her abilities function better and a significant price drop Valeria is back on the job, ready to steal xenos artefacts of all sorts (THEY BELONG IN A MUSEUM) and give the finger to uppity Monodominants. Although her wide array of gear can appear haphazard at first glance, there is actually a surprising amount of synergy between the pieces and several interesting interactions between them that I think make her a very worthwhile piece.
Well, that’s it for me today- so tell me, internets, which tragically-underused characters are stuck on the shelf breaking your heart and what would you do to fix them?