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In the WH40k universe, Necrons were once Necron'tyr who sold their soul's to C'tan an ancient god. He put them into living metal bodies so they could live forever.

However, what I'm not clear on is if they are robots that can be reprogammed, or if they have a 'soul' as such and the 'programming' goes much deeper?

n.b I'm well aware of the background and history of the Necron'tyr, I've poured over long, wordy wikia articles on Lexicanum, various forums and I've even resorted to d4chan, but I've not managed to digest the information down into something succinct and useful; a yes or no with some explanation.

  • I heard the Necron background has radically changed in 40K 6th Edition, including big changes to their relationship to the C'tan and to the nature of their "free will". Heard anything about it? – Andres F. Aug 23 '12 at 2:23
  • @AndresF no, but that would be integral to any answer. – AncientSwordRage Aug 30 '12 at 11:08
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Summary:

The Necrons as they exist today (in the 41 Millennium, of course) are not robots as we understand them, so they were not programmed in the classic sense.

They are the product of merging nanotechnological materials (called 'living metal' by the Necron'tyr) with the spiritual and mental essence of the formerly living Necron'tyr using the vast psionic powers of their former masters, the extra-dimensional C'tan. They are basically a sentient species whose minds were transposed into machinery designed to enslave them. It is not likely their minds could be reprogrammed and since their bodies are very hard to kill, it would be a risky undertaking to bring Necron bodies anywhere in an effort to try.

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    And those Necrons with free will are the Necron Lords, so even if they could be be reprogrammed, it would be much, much more dangerous to try! – rsegal Aug 23 '12 at 1:39
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    @Thaddeus There is much whining from 40K players (not surprised, are you?) about the Necron "fluff" having changed in 6th Edition. Apparently, they are no longer robots without free will, and no longer the slaves of the C'tan (and actually, the C'tan are enslaved to the Necrons, or something of the sort). Heard anything about it? In true GW fashion, they have re-written the fluff :P (details might not be accurate in this comment, though) – Andres F. Aug 23 '12 at 2:21
  • Ensuing meta discussion: What should we do about Wikipedia-like answers? – user56 Aug 31 '12 at 23:04
  • Yes, I saw the complaints. I reduced it to a single paragraph. I strive for complete answers but I recognize my style is not the preferred one. I have been trying to keep my answers short when it is at all possible. I am sorry for the inconvenience. – Thaddeus Howze Aug 31 '12 at 23:05
  • @Thaddeus thank you. So long as we can find a happy medium, I will be happy. Clearly your style doesn't suit everyone, but at times it might be useful. Would you be able to weigh in on the meta topic? Id like to hear all opinions. – AncientSwordRage Sep 2 '12 at 0:47

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