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Warhammer 40k Assassins guide

The transhuman assassins of the Officio Assassinorum are the Imperium of Man’s final sanction against rebels, traitors, and secessionists.

Painting of a Cullexus Warhammer 40k Assassin hanging from a pillar, wearing a dark body glove, wielding a green energy blade

The Warhammer 40k Assassins are rare but powerful agents of the Imperium of Man. With their unique weapons, bio-augmetic enhancements, and secretive training, they are the High Lords’ ultimate tool to silence dissent, crush rebellion, and remove dangerous and charismatic leaders. This guide introduces each of the Assassin Temples within the Officio Assassinorum, and explains each assassin’s unique skills, weapons, and role.

While most citizens and even planetary governors within the Imperium of Man believe the Imperial Assassins to be a myth, they are actually ancient institutions that predate the Imperium. The Assassin Temples were all recognised by the Emperor of Mankind during the unification of Terra and the Great Crusade, and he sanctioned the Officio Assassinorum as an official organ of state.

Assassins aren’t just part of the lore, they’re powerful models on the tabletop. In games of Warhammer 40k, assassins can fight alongside any of the Imperial Warhammer 40k factions: one assassin in an Incursion game, two in a Strike Force game, and three in an Onslaught game. Rules for Assassins are available in the Agents of the Imperium Index.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Warhammer 40k assassins:

A Warhammer 40k Assassin Kill Team, with an Eversor, Cullexus, Callidus, and Vindicare

Officio Assassinorum

The Officio Assassinorum is a branch of the galactic bureaucracy known as the Administratum. Though it is a junior division within a larger organization, its power and influence is such that the Grand Master of Assassins holds a permanent seat among the High Lords of Terra.

An assassination may only be sanctioned by the express order of the High Lords of Terra, or since the return of Roboute Guilliman, the Lord Regent. In practise, such is the power and secrecy of the Assassinorum, that the full scope of their operations may never be truly known.

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Assassin Temples

The Assassinorum is further divided into Assassin Temples, each responsible for recruiting, training, equipping, and deploying different classes of Imperial assassin. Each Temple specializes in one form of murder, and usually assumes singular responsibility for a given mission. Only on rare and exceptionally deadly missions do assassins from multiple Temples collaborate as a Kill Team.

Each Temple uses its own sacred technologies, training rituals, and mental conditioning to create its assassins. These individuals are at the peak of human physical conditioning, and are further enhanced with augmetic surgery and unique technology that takes them well beyond what a trained soldier could ever achieve. Assassins can even exceed the fighting prowess of a transhuman Space Marine – though they are far fewer in number.

Callidus Warhammer 40k assassin

Callidus Assassin

Callidus assassins are masters of deception, infiltration, and disguise. They undergo extensive conditioning so that they are able to metabolise the drug Polymorphine, which – together with surgical modification to their skeleton and musculature – enables them to literally change their shape and physical appearance.

At its most prosaic, Polymorphine enables them to slip through narrow gaps like a serpent. They can also assume another’s appearance, the better to infiltrate into their target’s presence. On one occasion, the legendary Callidus Assassin ‘Mother Gullet’ effected a kidnapping and ransom by swallowing the target’s child whole, and exfiltrating with them in their stomach.

Callidus Assassin’s wield a C’tan Phase Blade, stolen Necron technology capable of cutting through any matter and any forcefield. They carry a neural shredder, a short range area of effect weapon that destroys synaptic patterns in sentient entities and short-circuits computer systems. If unarmed, they can always fall back on the deadly poisoned needles they habitually wear as hairpins.

Eversor Warhammer 40k assassin perched in a ruined statue

Vindicare Assassin

Vindicare assassins are snipers without equal. Their trademark weapon is the Exitus rifle, a long range sniper rifle capable of firing a variety of specialised munitions. These include the force-field dodging Shieldbreaker round, bio-acidic Hellfire round, and armor-breaking Turbo Penetrator round. Should the Vindicare be caught at close range, the Exitus pistol is their go-to sidearm.

Though their specialisation is ranged kills, Vindicare Assassins are equally as physically conditioned as any of their brethren. Often, an assassination will require a Vindicare to lie in wait for days, even weeks, maintaining constant focus on a target site. They are assisted by their stealth suit, and the spy mask that affixes to their face using surgically bonded mag clamps, which provides them a wealth of multi-spectral targeting data.

Eversor Warhammer 40k assassin

Eversor Assassin

Eversor assassins are senseless bio-organic berserkers, terror weapons without compare. So dangerous are Eversors that, when not actively deployed, they are stored in cryocaskets. Upon waking their bodies are flooded with the most potent cocktail of combat stimulants known to the Imperium. They are not so much given a target as dropped into a target zone, where they will relentlessly slaughter anything they contact until they are given a deactivation command by a handler, or they die.

Eversors are equipped with simple but horrifically effective tools. They wield a power sword, an executioner pistol – which combines the functions of a bolt pistol and a needle pistol – and a taloned neurogauntlet laden with neurotoxins. Even killing an Eversor will not save its victims, for in death their hyper-accelerated metabolisms melt down in a lethal biological explosion.

Cullexus Warhammer 40k assassin

Culexus Assassin

The Culexus assassin is perhaps the most specialised and cursed of all the Assassin Temples, for it is populated entirely by psychic nulls. These rare individuals, also known as pariahs or blanks, have no presence in the Warp. These nulls exude an aura of disquiet and malaise, their psychic anti-presence suppressing the souls of normal humans and shutting down the Warp-touched abilities of 40k psykers.

The Culexus Temple takes this natural ability and amplifies it to create some of the most powerful anti-psykers in the Imperium’s arsenal. Their unique headgear, the Animus Speculum, allows them to focus their natural anti-psychic abilities, creating a lethal torrent of anti-psychic force that can obliterate the mind and spirit of an enemy psyker.

To further assist them, they are armed with psych-out grenades. These are packed with the psychically-negative dust created as a by-product of the Emperor of Mankind’s Golden Throne, and are lethal against enemy psykers. Their Synskin Body Glove is capable of phasing in and out of reality, and even absorbing the excess warp energy generated by an enemy psyker, to further empower the assassin’s own abilities.

A Venenum Warhammer 40k assassin

Lesser Assassin Temples

As well as the four great Temples, there are Lesser Assassin Temples with niche specialities. The assassins of Venenum are master poisoners; those of Vanus are data manipulators, capable of orchestrating coups, rebellions, and murders by revealing sensitive facts to angry parties, falsifying orders, fabricating documents, and more; while Adamus is the oldest and most traditional Temple, its warriors skilled with the blade.

Models for these three assassins are available, but they only have rules in Warhammer: The Horus Heresy, an era when many more Assassin Temples were engaged in direct fieldwork.

Painting of a Vindicare Warhammer 40k Assassin in a black body glove perched on a ledge with a sniper rifle

Warhammer 40k books about assassins

There aren’t many Warhammer 40k books about assassins, but there are some real hits:

Assassinorum: Kingmaker by Robert Rath is a detailed study of a Kill Team operation, showing the field craft of three assassins from different Temples as they go up against an unlikely target – the Monarch of an Imperial Knight house who never leaves the armored cockpit of his steed.

For a deep dive into the assassins’ impact on Imperial politics, the Beast Arises is a must-read. Set during the War of the Beast, which saw an unready Imperium almost destroyed by a colossal Ork Waaagh!, there’s a major plot thread following the political machinations of Grand Master Drakan Vangorich of the Assassinorum, as he attempts to goad the ponderous Imperial political machine into action.

If you like deep lore dives into Warhammer 40k, why not check out our guide to the Space Marine organs that make them so special – which comes complete with commentary from a medical doctor, evaluating whether any of them would work as intended…