Vashtorr the Arkifane, Warhammer 40k’s new daemon character

Warhammer 40k is getting a powerful, daemonic new main character called Vashtorr the Arkifane - but who is he, and what does he want?

Warhammer 40k Vashtorr the Arkifane - Games Workshop image showing an artwork of Vashtorr the Arkifane, wielding his hammer, wreathed in blue lightning

Warhammer 40k’s Vashtorr the Arkifane is a brand new main character in the 40k narrative, who’ll be a major part of the upcoming Arks of Omen narrative campaign and book series. Described by Games Workshop as an “enigmatic daemonic mechanic, a fiendish forge-master who specialises in corrupt machines and insane innovation”. He was first teased in October 2022 and we still don’t know when his (fantastic) model is coming out – but we have learned a bit more, and this guide lays it all out.

While Vashtorr the Arkifane is not a full-blown Warhammer 40k Chaos god, he is described as a powerful, greater daemonic entity in the order of daemon primarchs like Mortarion of the Death Guard and Magnus the Red of the Thousand Sons. We don’t yet know for sure how he’ll fit into the tabletop game, but it seems fair to assume you’ll be able to field him alongside any of the Chaos-aligned Warhammer 40k factions.

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Here’s everything we know about Vashtorr so far.

Warhammer 40k Vashtorr the Arkifane - Games Workshop image showing the full Vashtorr the Arkifane model, including wings, weapon, base, and face

Vashtorr the Arkifane model

GW revealed the Vashtorr the Arkifane model in full during its November 19 Grand Narrative event preview livestream. It looks to be a huge, centrepiece character model – similar to Mortarion, Magnus, or the upcoming new model for Angron, primarch of the World Eaters.

Warhammer 40k Vashtorr the Arkifane - Games Workshop image showing various close up details of the Vashtorr the Arkifane model, including its hammer

Fittingly, for a being described by Warhammer Studio loremaster Wade Pryce, in GW’s November 19 reveal video, as “a daemon of machinery of machinery, of invention”, the Vashtorr the Arkifane model is a twisted merging of flesh, metal, and mechanisms.

Curved, spined armour plates recall the Daemon Engines of the Chaos Space Marines and Death Guard; the long bladed fingers and wings remind us of the deadly cybernetic Necron Flayed Ones and Skorpekh Destroyers; and those robotic tendrils are twisted mirrors of the Adeptus Mechanicus’ mechadendrites, such as we’d see on Chaos Knights.

We’ve no idea what Vashtorr the Arkifane’s in-game abilities or stats will be, of course – but we’d lay a sizeable bet that they’ll include buffing nearby Daemon engines and Chaos vehicles (and smashing stuff up real good with his big hammer).

Warhammer 40k Vashtorr the Arkifane - Games Workshop image showing the new Vashtorr the Arkifane model from the back, showing the wings and legs

What actually is Vashtorr the Arkifane, then?

In GW’s November 19 reveal video, Wade Pryce gives us a few more solid details of just who or what Vashtorr really is.

“We understand the greater gods of Chaos to be formed from some of those prime mortal emotions,” Pryce says.

“Vashtorr is formed from the desire to create, manipulate, and invent; to make things that didn’t already exist,” he adds.

“Vashtorr wants to become a god; Vashtorr is already considered a demigod, an independent daemon within the realm of Chaos. He is the arms dealer, the weapons broker of the Great Game that takes place between the Chaos Gods.

“He’s independent – he’s too vital and valuable to any of them to risk attacking, but he wants more.”

Warhammer 40k who is the Arkifane - Games Workshop image showing the Arkifane daemon meeting the Arks of Omen, Abaddon's new fleet of Space Hulks, flying off to war

What’s Vashtorr the Arkifane doing in Warhammer 40k?

Abaddon the Despoiler, warmaster of Chaos and the biggest, baddest Chaos Space Marine around, is getting a new fleet of heavily armed Space Hulks called the ‘Arks of Omen’ to aid his Black Crusade to conquer the galaxy – and a mysterious daemon character called Vashtorr the Arkifane has helped him get it.

We’ll have to wait to get our teeth into the new Arks of Omen books to share more details of exactly how Vashtorr managed this (and what he expects from Abaddon in return).

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When was Vashtorr the Arkifane revealed?

The Arkifane was first revealed (in teaser form) during GW’s Warhammer Day preview livestream on Saturday, October 8 (alongside various other enticing Warhammer 40k news, not least the Astra Militarum army set).

This dark benefactor was shrouded in the unknown; Warhammer Community loremaster Wade Pryce introduced them as “a hitherto unknown figure” and “a new player who’s entered the game, who’s turned the Space Hulks into Arks of Omen”.

A cryptic video at the end of the livestream, loaded with creepy audio static, shows electronic wires and tendrils reaching towards Abaddon, and a barely intelligible mechanical voiceover says: “I am Vashtorr the Arkifane, and I have come to make you an offer”. The clip ended with the slogan “Darkness made metal”.

 

By this point, we knew they were some kind of daemon; Warhammer Community’s teaser article is titled “The Daemon in the Machine”, refers to the character as “an entity of considerable power”, and includes fragments of very daemonic-sounding flavour text: “Whispers in the void”; “A new power rises from the Warp”; and, of course: “I have come to make you an offer”. Abaddon had clearly made a pact with a powerful daemon.

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But what sort of daemon?

Well, we now know Vashtorr is not affiliated with any of the individual Chaos gods – he’s not an indentured creature of Khorne, Nurgle, Slaanesh, or Tzeentch.

We’d previously made an educated guess at it being a creature of Tzeentch, chaos god of change, fate, sorcery, trickery, and subterfuge. There are a few key points about the Arkifane that pointed in that direction:

  • They have come to make an offer (i.e. to make some kind of deal) with Abaddon
  • They have access to previously secret knowledge – the information, technology, and power required to weaponise a whole fleet of previously inert Space Hulks
  • To Abaddon, they represent change (after many centuries of ultimately unsuccessful crusading) and the promise of an improvement in his fortunes.

All these things speak to the forbidden knowledge, devilish trickery, and timely, fateful deal-making of Tzeentch, Changer of the Ways. And that’s before we’ve even nodded towards what we’ve seen of the Arkifane’s physical form.

Warhammer 40k who is the Arkifane - Games Workshop image showing the Arkifane daemon meeting Abaddon on board a ship

Tall, slender, and spiny, with wide, taloned wings, and bearing a long-hafted (apparently be-tentacled) weapon somewhere between staff and mace, crackling with blue lightning, the Arkifane looks more like a Lord of Change (the Greater Daemons of Tzeentch) than anything else.

Warhammer 40k who is the Arkifane - Games Workshop image showing an artwork with a Dark Mechanicum tech priest on a Horus Heresy battlefield

What about the Dark Mechanicum?

Warhammer 40k fans immediately hit upon one theory about The Arkifane’s identity: they could be a daemonically infused agent of the Dark Mechanicum. This seldom seen splinter faction of the priesthood of Mars broke its treaty with the Emperor of Mankind to side with Horus Lupercal and the chaos gods during the Horus Heresy.

A shadowy mirror of the Imperium‘s Adeptus Mechanicus, these chaos-worshipping tech-priests (called ‘Heretek’ by their loyalist equivalents) have no tabletop army in Warhammer 40k (though they are playable in Warhammer: The Horus Heresy) and their influence in the 40k setting has mostly been through Black Library novels, rather than on the tabletop or in digital Warhammer 40k games.

GW has now confirmed Vashtorr the Arkifane is his own thing, not directly part of the Dark Mechanicum – although a November 19 WarCom does admit “Warpsmiths and the Dark Mechanicum think he’s great”.

Nevertheless, the links between the Arkifane and the Dark Mechanicum are striking:

  • The Arkifane is clearly described as a union of daemon, metal, and machine – exactly what the Dark Mechanicum is known for, and the nature of many of its key characters
  • The Mechanicum – as they were called before the Horus Heresy – are masters of building and repairing spacecraft; it’s easy to imagine the tech-priests of chaos managing to weaponise a fleet of Space Hulks
  • There is a clear parallel here with Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl and his Primaris Space Marines project; Cawl came to Ultramarines primarch Roboute Guilliman with ‘an offer’ to reverse the Imperium’s waning fortunes – perhaps some chaos opposite number to Cawl is now making a similar table-turning offer to Abaddon the Despoiler.

Many names were thrown around early on as to the Arkifane’s original identity, including Fabricator General Kelbor Hal – who was leader of the Mechanicum at the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, and masterminded the pro-Horus rebellion on Mars.

Kelbor Hal’s whereabouts have been unknown since Horus’ armies broke and fled after the Siege of Terra, and – while he wasn’t described in the books as having wings like the Arkifane’s – a lot can happen in 10,000 years of seclusion and warp interference, so it’s still perfectly possible this is he.