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Warhammer 40K’s Craziest Army – Enslavers’ 2004 Original Rules

11 Minute Read
Nov 17 2023

Today we examine the destroyers of life from beyond the veil, 40K’s Enslavers… and their best forgotten GW rules.

The Enslavers, also known as PsyrensKrelldominators or puppeteers, are entities that are native to the Warp.


History of the Enslavers

The history of the Enslavers is traced to the War in Heaven that was fought millions of years ago between the C’tan-led Necrons and the Old Ones, along with their successor races. In this era, the Old Ones had engineered a number of species with a strong connection to the Warp to serve as warrior races of Psykers against their enemy. The growing pains of these Young Races disturbed the peaceful Empyrean, turning it into a hellish environment filled with now-deadly Warp predators. Eventually, they broke the boundaries between dimensions and amongst the most proficient of these Warp-spawned creatures were the Enslavers.


Using their mental powers, they dominated the minds of the Young Races and used the transmutated bodies of Psykers as portals to bring more of their kin to the material universe. The arrival of these Warp entities brought the final downfall of the Old Ones’ reign as their own creations fell victim to the command of the Enslavers. Breaching the Immaterium in epidemic numbers, the Enslavers would take what was left of the galaxy whilst the C’tan retreated to ride out the storm. Thus, the galaxy became a wasteland until the psyker swarm died off and allowed the galaxy to emerge with new life.

CRAP Enslavers! – Everyone hide…for 20 million years.


The Necron Overlord Trazyn the Infinite who is a keeper of rare artefacts is known to hold the ossified husk of an Enslaver amongst his relics. By the Age of the Imperium, the origins of these creatures are largely unknown to Mankind and remain a complete mystery to them. They were known by a variety of other names in different parts of the galaxy such as Krell, Psyrens, Dominators and Puppeteers. Descriptions of these creatures are rare and fragmentary but data has been gathered on their appearance as well as feeding habits. The Ordo Malleus and Ordo Xenos have a dual interest in Enslavers for their warp origins and their existence as an alien species. Numerous Enslavers were encountered by Inquisition forces in the Scintilla System in 260.993.M41 and subsequently destroyed. Further evidence reveals that the creatures were embedded within a rogue-psyker smuggling ring headed by criminal organizations, most notably the Faxlignae. The Enslavers are believed to be the potential threat related to the Dark Pattern that is unfolding within the Jericho Reach.

Enslaver_sketchWhat’s yours is mine!


>Enslavers Background

These other-dimensional beings have physical forms that are unlike any other known lifeform. They seem to possess physical bodies but appear to exist in Warp space for at least part of their life cycle and are known to pose a terrible threat to all living creatures when in the material realm. In shape, they appear as barrel-shaped or basic spheroids that measured approximately 2 meters in height and had a tough leathery skin. They are able to change their skin tone at will though are typically leathery brown. A single large sensory organ coloured either red, pink or orange sometimes referred to as an eye sits at the very top of the body though its actual function is unknown.

Around the upper portion of the body is a cluster of pale or white or pinkish tentacles that range between 8 to 12 in number that are all one and a half meter long. Typically, two of these are longer than the others and end in suckered pads. The tentacles serve as the primary sensory as well as manipulative organs for the Enslaver. Though they lack any legs, they do move about their environment by floating and sometimes use their tentacles to aid them when they wish to move precisely or fast. This method allows them to move quite rapidly and allows them to change direction or speed in a manner comparable to Humans or other more orthodox creatures. An Enslaver can float up to 3 meters high but are unable to actually fly though they are able to climb.

They have the ability to transcend normal space allowing them to easily traverse the galaxy and perhaps beyond. Enslavers are able to travel through warp space by using the psychic vibrations of other creatures. The name mankind has given them stems from the fact that they are able to mentally enslave other creatures to their will. Through mental control, they are able to take over the minds of other races with a single Enslaver able to dominate the minds of up to 10 creatures. The victims of this mental control retain all their abilities, knowledge and physical attributes though all of these are under the command of the Enslaver. Victims of the Enslavers become helpless and complete puppets to their alien master’s will and perform even the most self-destructive actions without hesitation.   Through mental command, however, is limited to a range of up to 50 meters.

Their attraction to the mind of Psykers dictates the movements of the Enslavers with the strongest and easily traced psychic emanations coming from unprotected Human Psykers. Such vibrations can be detected as far away as ten light years with them being tracked by an Enslaver where three of their kind often merging into a band to create a mental bond with their prey. Such victims can be unaware of this at first but in time gradual changes are forced upon their body chemistry. They become lethargic and tired with their skin becoming discoloured whereupon in a period of 50-75 hours their forms swell as body tissue disintegrates as well as it reforms into a living gate of ruptured pulsing flesh. This becomes the end of the victim as their body is transformed into a special form of Warp Gate that serves as a link between the Materium and the Immaterium through which the trio of Enslavers travel unrestricted. Once in the material world, they begin to enslave more Psykers including protected ones such as Astropaths who are turned into similar gateways that permit more trios of Enslavers into the Materium.

Mankind has been unable to determine if the Enslavers are intelligent in Human terms. This is because they are able to act in a rational manner and make reasonable decisions about their actions. They have never communicated with other races though whether this is because they are incapable of doing so or refusing to do so is unknown. In addition, they have never been observed to make use of tools or any other form of equipment. Theoretically, an Enslaver is certainly capable of using a weapon but has never been seen to do so. Instead, manual labour is conducted by their psychically dominated slaves.


Enslavers are slightly larger than a grown man, however other size ranges are possible as the former has been the average assessment. These xenos have sac-like bodies which contract with movement and are almost completely transparent, the front is recognizable by numerous tentacles originating from the anterior end and down to the posterior along the bottom. The face of the Enslaver is an almost mask like visage with numerous eye-holes of differing sizes. An Enslaver also possesses the abilty to phase in and out of the Materium as it manifests from a psyker. The creatures possess psykers as daemons would, yet do not show any outward signs of possession, instead working clandestinely to further it’s own ends — ultimately the possession of other psykers to allow the passage of more Enslavers. Unlike daemons, Enslavers can control non-psykers, which they consume the minds of, furthering their own power and allowing the control of more potential slaves. Eventually, with enough Enslavers or one of extraordinary power it may be able to control an entire Hive of humans and then spread across the planet, after which the only acceptable plan of action is Exterminatus.

Upon the death of a possessed psyker, the body is destroyed and the Enslaver emerges, the psyker having served its purpose. Despite the virus-like actions and considerable threat the species represents to the Imperium the Enslavers cannot possess sanctioned psykers as easily due to the preparation their minds have undergone and can be overwhelmed if enough minds are present as it will have too many minds to try and assimilate at once. Unfortunately the protection sanctionites have is temporary and with enough pressure upon their mind, they will break and be obliterated by the Enslaver. Yet even so, the resistance would be adequate for the psyker and others around them to mount a physical attack.

Even Gimli was horrified of their rules.

2004’s 40K Enslaver Rules

Now we talk about the craziest army rules GW may have ever made for 40K. Those GSC blips from editions past had NOTHING on what the Enslavers can do! Once long ago in 2004’s White Dwarf 291 GW gave us rules for Enslavers, and they were SCARY. So scary, there were send down the memory hole and never spoken of again. But we here at BoLS have an extensive White Dwarf collection from the days of yore. Here’s a summary for your entertainment:

Enslaver: WS3 BS3 S5 T5 W3 I4 A1 Ld10 Sv6+

Unit size: 1-3

Points/Model: 25



The easiest way to use Enslavers is as an alternate HQ choice to represent an enslaved army. Alternatively in games with multiple players and/or a games master Enslavers make an ideal ‘unknown force’ to plague all sides by enslaving their units.


Deep Strike: Enslavers may always opt to stay in reserve and enter play using the Deep Strike rules even in missions which do not use the Deep Strike rules. Enslavers cannot contribute dice to the Enslavement pool until they are on the tabletop.


Enslavers get a dice pool for mind control. Each Enslaver contributes 1 dice. Enslavers may upgrade to contributing up to 5D6 at an extra +15 pts per D6.

Dice are used to control enslaved units and to mind control new ones! The dice pool is used as follows: In the Enslaver’s turn it allocates dice to utilising its already enslaved units. Any dice left over can be used to try and take over opposing units either in the Enslaver’s turn or the opponent’s turn. At the start of the next Enslaver’s turn the pool is refilled with the exception of dice that have been left with units to show they are in danger of permanent enslavement (see below).

Exceptions: Many, many beings and entities in the Warhammer 40,000 galaxy could claim to be an exception to being enslaved. However, Enslavers seem capable of controlling absolutely anything with an unstoppable combination of psychic trickery and sheer mental force, so for these (slightly tenuous) reasons ALL units can potentially be enslaved, even vehicles, Necrons, Tyranids, Daemons etc, etc. Units without a Leadership characteristic count as having Ld 10. Enslavers count as psykers but their Enslavement dice cannot be countered by any known means, such as psychic hoods or Runes of Warding.


Enslaved units require one dice a turn in order to do anything, two to be brought fully under control. Enslaved units with just one dice have to roll it and use the following table:


1-3 May only move or shoot, may not assault but will fight if already in close combat. 4-6 May move, shoot and assault normally.

Enslaved units without any dice are left confused and starting to come to their senses, they do nothing at all for the turn, they will not even fight back in close combat, although their Weapon Skill is unaffected. Enslaved units are always fearless so they automatically pass all Morale checks and cannot be pinned.


Enslaving new units is achieved by allocating dice to them and rolling against the target unit’s Leadership characteristic. A maximum of three dice can be allocated per enemy unit and one dice is lost per full 24″ that there is between the closest Enslaver and the target (ie, 24″-47″ –1 dice, 48″- 71″ –2 dice, control is not possible at 72″ or greater). The dice can be rolled at any time but must be allocated at the start of the Enslaver’s turn. The following results apply:

Equalling the Leadership: The target is confused and does nothing, this has no immediate effect if it’s the Enslaver’s turn but if it’s the opponents turn the unit takes no other actions for the remainder of the turn and will not fight back in close combat. The opponent must remove one model from the unit for each 6 rolled on the dice to represent infighting – individuals being completely controlled and killing another unit member, ones winning freedom only to be slain by the others, suicidal incidents and so forth.

Beating the Leadership by 1: The Enslaver can cause the unit to move, this will be an additional move of up to 6″ in the Enslaver’s turn. The unit can be moved into terrain that is dangerous or difficult for it, but not impassable. If the dice were rolled in the opponent’s turn treat this as equalling the Ld of the target.

Beating the Leadership by 2: The Enslaver can cause the unit to move as above and shoot in the Enslaver’s turn, targeting the nearest unit, friend or foe. If the dice were rolled in the opponent’s turn treat this as equalling the Ld of the target.

Beating the Leadership by 3+: The Enslaver can cause the unit to move up to 6″, shoot and assault up to 6″, effectively controlling the unit for the Enslaver’s turn. If the dice were rolled in the opponent’s turn treat this as equalling the Ld of the target.
Permanent Enslavement: Each time an enemy unit is affected by the Enslavers leave one of the dice from their pool with it. Once three dice have been accumulated the unit becomes fully enslaved and is part of the Enslaver’s forces from then on. At this point the accumulated dice are returned to the Enslavers’ dice pool.

Mind Control: The Enslaver’s effect gets more powerful the closer you get. Within 6″ units are at Ld -2, within 12″ -1 Ld. Psykers suffer an additional -1 at any range.

Psychic Lash: In close combat Enslavers can add unused Mind Control dice as additional attacks to represent the effects of its psychic lash. An Enslaver may not use more dice for attacks than they contribute to the dice pool. Close combat attacks from Enslavers ignore Armour Saves.

So Enslaver Rules Are SUPER Scary!

Definitely not an army that will win friends for folks who get all weirded out about the other player touching their models. Pro tip from Adepticon – DO NOT LET THE ENSLAVERS GET NEAR YOUR TITANS! It’s bad.

~Who wants Enslavers to return in 10th Edition?

Learn More of the Galaxy’s Foul Warp Entities

PS, back in the day my dream “Russian Nesting Doll Army” (never built) consisted of:

  • 1x Thunderhawk Transport carrying:
  • 1x Land Raider carrying:
  • ENSLAVERS – SURPRISE!!! (no one would ever expect it)

Author: Larry Vela
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