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Imperial Knight

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Targetdrone.gif This article is about the Imperial Knights. For other uses of Knight, see Knight (disambiguation).
Symbol of the Questor Imperialis[12]
Knights operating alongside Imperial Guard

Imperial Knights are towering bipedel engines of war that hail from feudal worlds of the Imperium known as Knight Worlds. Each Knight is piloted by a single Noble pilot from within the Throne Mechanicum.[11c] Knights which are sworn to the service of the Emperor are known as Questor Imperialis. Knights which are sworn to the Omnissiah are known as Questor Mechanicus.[11c] Knights themselves are operated from Knight Households, also known as Questoris Familia, located on Knight Worlds.[22] Pilots of Knights are known as Knight Scions.[8]


Knight Worlds across the galaxy

The original Knight Worlds were founded during the Dark Age of Technology, settled by Humanity in its first great stellar exodus. In an event dubbed the Long March, over the course of decades colonization ships reached their pre-chosen worlds. When they arrived however, they found often lethal wildlife and plant-life alike, or devastating meteorological conditions. The founding materials for the colonists were the ship themselves, while they were able to flourish and expand thanks to STC machines. Among the creations of the STC during this time were the first Knight suits to defend against predators and hostile Xenos. The pilots for these suits were carefully chosen, but over extended exposure to their Throne Mechanicum console their concepts of practical self-defense and communal survival was replaced by ideas of authoritarianism, chivalry, and martial honor. Over the decades a feudal system formed, and those protected by the Knights increasingly became vassals to their masters.[11a]

Later during the Age of Strife, Mars sent out many expeditions of spacecraft, hoping to find remnants of human knowledge on other worlds. They found an anarchic galaxy where the ancient confederacy of interdependent human planets no longer existed. The human worlds discovered retained little of their old technology. They had devolved into feudal states ruled by aristocratic nobles who welcomed the Techpriests as long-awaited saviours. The Tech-priests settled among these feudal empires, or Knight Worlds, choosing planets that were mineral rich where they could rebuild their industries. They established contacts with the Knights, trading with their worlds and investigating the ancient ruins where surviving technology could still sometimes be found. The Knights provided manpower and security against enemies such as marauding Orks and land-hungry Eldar Exodites. In return the Tech-priests provided technical expertise and help rebuilding their planets.[13]

An Imperial Knight army battles Daemons[16]

Over the millennia the Forge Worlds became powerful and the Knight Worlds flourished under their wing. The Tech-priests and Knights became mutually dependent and each Forge World became the hub of an empire consisting of a Forge World and its surrounding Knight Worlds. The Knights learned much from the Tech-priests and their societies were gradually transformed into technically sophisticated cultures. Many of the Forge Worlds managed to maintain sporadic contact with each other, and the Tech-priests' obsession with knowledge ensured that discoveries on one world were distributed to others throughout the galaxy. The most important innovation that the Tech-priests brought to the Knight Worlds were the fighting machines called Knights. These machines were one-man versions of a Titan, much smaller and less powerful than a real Titan, but far better suited to the mobile style of warfare prevalent amongst the nobility of the Knight Worlds.[1]

During the early Great Crusade, the Rogue Trader Militant Bastian Jeffers discovered the first Knight World and many were subsequently sought out and assimilated into the fledgling Imperium. Later during the Horus Heresy, many Knight Worlds and their Knight Houses pledged their banner to the traitorous Warmaster.[11a]

In the current Age of the Imperium, these Knights fight alongside the Titans and form a reserve of troops which can be called up into the Titan Legions when required. Each Knight is piloted by a noble of the Knight Worlds, these worlds having maintained their feudal societies over the millennia. Indeed, the acquisition of technology enabled the warrior nobility to strengthen its position of power on their worlds.[1] Some Knights do not owe allegiance to any House, and instead wander the galaxy as Freeblade Knights.[4]


Organization of a Knightly House sworn to the Adeptus Terra
Organization of a Knightly House sworn to the Mechanicum

The Nobility

There are thousands of Knight houses across the Galaxy.[10] The Knight Worlds operate under a strict feudal system and are typically sworn to either the Adeptus Terra or Adeptus Mechanicus. Each world is led by either a single or number of Knight Houses, whose ranks are made up of Nobles which pilot Knight suits into battle.[7a] To become a Knight Pilot, one must undergo the grueling Ritual of Becoming.[11b]

Knight Houses sworn to the Adeptus Terra are led by a High Monarch. Directly beneath them are a number of Barons, which each rule a fief of territory. While all Barons owe allegiance to their king or queen, all are not equal and some have different ranks. The baronial rank of Kingsward protects his liege on the field and at court.[6a][18] A pair of crossed swords signify rank of Kingsward.[6b] Others may serve as the King's herald or the gatekeeper of his fortress. Each Baron in turn controls a number of Knightly Vassals, which operate alone or in formations known as lances.[7a][18]

Knight Houses sworn to the Adeptus Mechanicus often accompany the Collegia Titanica into battle or are garrisoned to defend key Forge Worlds. Their organizational structure is similar to those Houses sworn to the Adeptus Terra. Each is led by a Princeps and below him are Barons which can hold a variety of titles. Below the Barons are Vassals. Unlike with Houses sworn to the Adeptus Terra, Mechanicum-sworn Houses may be stationed with a Titan Legion permanently.[7d]

Besides these broad titles and ranks, a number of lesser and more exotic Household ranks also exist. These include:[17]

  • Seneschal - Masters of ceremony and martial tradition who stand at the apex of their order. They have proven themselves in both combat and command as well as the vicious dynastic struggles common in any Knight House.[17]
  • Arbalester - A Scion who excels at death and destruction at distance. Many view these Scions as unworthy or cowardly.[17]
  • Aucteller - Sacrificial Scions who are oath-sworn to strike down the foe's greatest warriors at the cost of their own life. During the Great Crusade such tactics were suppressed, but reemerged during the Horus Heresy.[17]
  • Dolorus - Bestowed to the most famed beast slayers in the Household. Many of its members were known for their vicious fury, viewing life outside of a Knight suit as a pale and hollow thing. They are deployed in the forefront of every battle, with many of the more restless Scions going on to become Freeblades.[17]
  • Preceptor - Technological experts who have learned from the Sacristans. Besides having a deeper bond between man and machine, in battle they can operate complex augury and auspex equipment and serve as tactical coordination and battlefield communication specialists.[17]
  • Uhlan - Followed by the most hot-blooded and impetuous Knights. In war, they seek to destroy the foe in close-range assaults. They are often used as advance scouts and reavers.[17]
  • Aspirant - Younger Scions who have taken apprenticeships with an older Knight. They represent the future of the Household, so any Knightly order is reluctant to field them all at once.[17]

The Commoners

A sub-class also exists called the Drovers who looked after the animal herds, as the nobility would not soil their hands with such work. The Drovers used walkers similar to those of their masters, but they were, by law, not armed with any weapons, despite the fact that they faced very serious threats in the form of predators and xenos raids. This forced the Drovers to rely on the Knights for protection, and created a dependency comfortable for the nobles, as it made revolt virtually impossible.[3]

In addition to the Knight war machines, every House has multiple men-at-arms in its employ, resembling Planetary Defence Forces, although possessing a much smaller amount of heavy equipment. On several worlds, artificers and technicians became the most important subjects of the warrior nobility. They maintained the Knight walkers, and over time styled themselves as a priesthood for the half-forgotten mysteries of technology called the Sacristans. They arbitrated between the Knight Houses and ensured that the headstrong nobles did not wipe out one another in bitter feuds by ritualising the values of Duty, Honour and Valour. With the acceptance of these values, the Knights became known as The Chivalry.[3]

As well as the threat presented by hostile Houses, Knights had to conduct frequent battles against their worlds' indigenous predators. Hunting these beasts honed their martial skills into a deadly art. The Knights themselves would retire when they reached old age, passing their Battle Armour down to their heir, and in its stead donning the armour of a Knight Warden. They would then take the task of protecting the household and lending its members their advice. Knights formed family units to fight with the Titan Legions or alongside the Imperial Guard. Knights of a given house would be led by a noble holding the rank of a Lord, or the corresponding title of a Seneschal if he happened to be a Warden.[3]

Known Knight Houses

An Imperial Knight battles its Chaos counterparts[13]

Household Grade

The Household Grade is a rating used to classify the size of a Knight House by the number of operational Knights. House Vyronii was given the Household Rating of "Primus Belicosa", a rating denoting the high number of knights the house was able to field, when the estimate of fieldable knights was "500 or so". When a further audit was conducted the number was placed at "roughly 600", making it the largest Knight House known to be operating along the Eastern Fringe.[19] Within months of beginning a supply relationship with agents of Warmaster Horus, House Makabius, a Secundus Grade household, swelled to "nearly 200 fully equipped Knights".[20a] At the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, House Orhlacc was believed to possess as many as 300 knights, placing it at the "higher end" of the Secundus rating.[20b] The Sons of Horus falsely claimed that House Ærthegn, a Tertius Grade household, had "around 100 Knight armours" which placed it "among the smaller Knight Households incorporated into the Imperium". It was later revealed that the true number was closer to 300, which rivalled some of the oldest Knight Households.[20c] House Taranis was considered the strongest of the Knight Houses, with 600 Knights, and held the Grade of "Primus (Maximus)".[21a] House Coldshroud, a Primus Grade household, possessed 389 knights at the outbreak of the Horus Heresy.[21b] House Terryn, a Primus Grade household, was capable of field "almost 300 knights".[21c] House Procon Vi, a Primus Grade household, was considered better categorized as two Secundus Grade houses. While possessing 447 knights, they were often fielded as two separate groups, with one of them containing roughly 215 knights.[21d] House Col'Khak, a Secundus Grade household, boasted a strength of 254 knights, even after the losses at Isstvan V.[21e] House Krast, a Primus Grade household, possessed 400 knights at the outbreak of the Horus Heresy.[21f] House Moritain, a Tertius Grade household, possessed 125 knights two decades before the Horus Heresy.[21g] House Zavora, a Secundus (Maxis) Grade household, was known to be at the higher end of its Grade strength. It possessed 383 operational knights with an additional 100 in storage due to a lack of scions.[21h]

Knight Armour

Knight armour comes in a variety of forms, with the two most common types seen being the Knight Paladin and Knight Errant. These both use the same basic body form but are fitted with different weapons arrays. However, all Imperial Knights are protected by thick adamantium armour and potent field generators called Ion Shields.[4]

Other, much rarer, types of Knight armour are used on some Knight worlds. Amongst the heaviest types of Knight armour made by the forge worlds are the Crusader and the Castellan. Although slower than other suit types, these two benefit from substantially increased firepower and much thicker armour, and are instead used in a fire support role. The Lancer is a faster version of a standard Knight suit. These agile machines are used to outflank the enemy, scout out their defences and distract hostile forces while slower units get into position to attack. This type of armour is sophisticated and extremely difficult to manufacture, and its use is therefore usually reserved for rulers of knightly houses, or for Nobles that have proven themselves worthy of it in the fires of victory. However, while the Crusader, Castellan and Lancer are rightly revered, the Paladin and Errant’s perfectly balanced combination of speed, firepower and armour make them the supreme examples of Knight design.[4]

Types of Knights

Questoris Pattern

Questoris Pattern Knight

The most commonly seen pattern of Imperial Knight. Unless otherwise noted, all Questoris pattern Knights wield some combination of the same core set of weapons: rapid-fire battle cannons with heavy stubbers, avenger gatling cannons with heavy flamers, and/or thermal cannons for ranged arm weapons, reaper chainswords and/or thunderstrike gauntlets for melee arm weapons, a chest-mounted heavy stubber or meltagun, and potentially an ironstorm missile pod, twin icarus autocannons, or stormspear rocket pod mounted on the carapace.

Cerastus Pattern

Cerastus Pattern Knight Castigator

Among the oldest patterns of Imperial Knight, the Cerastus is faster and more heavily protected, but a far rarer sight on the battlefield.

Dominus Pattern

A larger type of Knight based around heavy firepower.

Acastus Pattern

The Knight Porphyrion, a type of Imperial Knight

The largest and among the most destructive types of Imperial Knights, they are nearly the size of a Scout Titan.

Armiger Pattern

An Armiger Pattern Knight Helverin[1]

A smaller type of Knight suit piloted by lower-born individuals, they are fast-moving, close-ranged fire support for larger Knights.

Other Titles

  • Knight Baron: The leader of a contingent of Knights with razor-sharp warrior skills. As a sign of status every Baron has a custom-made Knight suit. Most Barons' suits are armed with power lances and rapid-fire battlecannons.[2]
  • Knight Seneschal: A ceremonial role (rather than a specific model of Knight armor) that works closely alongside the ruling Lord of a Knightly House.[7c]


Knights are typically deployed onto planetary surfaces via a variety of specialized transports such as Macro Landers[15], Cathedrum Invasion Landers[15], and Drop-keeps[14].

Notable Knight Scions

A Knight pilot

Artefacts and Relics

Artefacts and Relics
Name Type Notes Source
Banner of Macharius Triumphant Banner [7c]
Helm of the Nameless Warrior Faceplate [7c]
Mark of the Omnissiah Repairing Device [7c]
Ravager Reaper Chainsword [7c]
Sanctuary Ion Shield [7c]
The Paragon Gauntlet Thunderstrike Gauntlet [7c]



Conflicting sources

When Knights were introduced in White Dwarf 126, they originated during the Dark Age of Technology from agricultural worlds whose human inhabitants had copied farming techniques learned from Eldar Exodites already present on them. The humans began utilising combat walkers invented by the Eldar and referred to them as "Knights". In a period referred to by the Exodites as The Coming of Men, the xenos and the human colonists clashed in a number of bloody conflicts as the Eldar Knights sought to protect their homes from the colonists.[3]

When these planets were cut off in the Age of Strife a warrior aristocracy rose to prominence amongst its human populations, mimicking the lifestyle of the Eldar Clans. These planets were rediscovered by Rogue Trader Jeffers and brought into the newborn Imperium of Man. Most often Knight Worlds became affiliated with a particular Titan Forge World, supplying it with food and raw materials, whilst its Sacristans would fall under the control of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Other Knight Worlds were left with a large degree of autonomy, required only to produce food and obey the call to arms when it was given.[3]

See also


Imperial Knights
Questoris Pattern PaladinErrantCrusaderGallantWardenPreceptorMageraStyrix
Dominus Pattern CastellanValiant
Cerastus Pattern LancerCastigatorAcheronAtrapos
Acastus Pattern PorphyrionAsterius
Armiger Pattern WarglaiveHelverinMoirax
Ranged Weaponry Armiger AutocannonAtrapos LascutterAvenger Gatling CannonBattle CannonCastigator Bolt CannonConflagration CannonConversion Beam CannonFlame CannonGraviton Singularity CannonIronstorm Missile PodIcarus AutocannonLas-ImpulsorLightning CannonLightning LockPlasma DecimatorSiegebreaker CannonShieldbreaker MissileStormspear Rocket PodThermal CannonThermal SpearThundercoil HarpoonVolcano LanceVolkite ChieorovileVolkite Veuglaire
Melee Weaponry Cerastus Shock LanceHekaton Siege ClawReaper ChainfistReaper ChainswordTempest WarbladeThunderstrike Gauntlet
Support Systems Construct ShieldHelm MechanicumIon ShieldIon Gauntlet ShieldThrone Mechanicum