Characters: Warhammer 40000 Eldar
"The very stars once lived and died at our command, yet you still dare oppose us?"
Eons ago, when humanity was still trying to master fire, the Eldar ruled the galaxy all but unopposed. However, at the height of their power, they grew decadent, and began amusing themselves through increasingly depraved pastimes. Their seers warned of disaster, and some fled for the hinterlands of their domain, but it was no use — the psychic energy produced by the sheer amount of Squick
going on resulted in the creation of the Chaos god(dess) Slaanesh, whose birth gutted the Eldar empire, devoured the souls of most of their race, killed most of their pantheon
, and left the Eye of Terror
as a permanent blight upon the galaxy. Today, the Eldar are close to extinction, and their leaders desperately try to cling to survival at any cost
In their desperation and pride, the Eldar look down on all other races, humans included, and place massively disproportionate value on the lives of the "mon'keigh
" against the lives of their own. Despite this, most varieties of Eldar are relatively benevolent compared to many of the other alien races that exist in the galaxy — mostly the Craftworld Eldar and the Harlequins; the piratical Corsairs and psychotic Dark Eldar are an exception — and have been known to be an unexpected source of help against several of the Imperium's enemies, including the Orks
, the Necrons
, or Chaos
. However, the Eldar always view their "comrades" as little more than lowly pawns to further their own ends, and will sacrifice their allies the moment it is advantageous to do so. Because of this, the Eldar are known as a capricious and fickle species by the Imperium, though this hatred is tempered with fear of their advanced technology and formidable psychic powers.
The Eldar race is split into a number of different factions, listed below. Of them, only two pose an active and credible threat to Imperial authority, and have their own codexes and armies: the Craftworld Eldar, and the Dark Eldar. The others are minor factions, who may or may not have units, or just appear in background lore.
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General Eldar tropes
- Abnormal Ammo: Eldar weapons can fire hundreds of mono-molecular shuriken, shards of glass impregnated with virulent and painful toxins, strands of monofilament wire; or open holes that teleport spheres of enemy matter into the Warp.
- The Aesthetics of Technology:
- Compare the sleek, curved profile of the Falcon grav-tank to the lumbering, smoke-belching war machines of the humans. The grav-tanks even look more like speedboats with weapons on top than they look like tanks.
- Dark Eldar vehicles tend to look like flying versions of ancient sailing ships, with lots of blades and spiky bits.
- Badass: See the Special Character pages for Craftworld and Dark Eldar examples.
- Solitaires. Perhaps the most badass type of Harlequins, they have no souls as they are doomed to be claimed by Slaanesh at their deaths, unless Cegorach himself intervenes. Despite this, they're incredibly terrifying to psykers and ridiculously powerful combatants. Tasked with playing the role of Slaanesh in the Harlequin performances, they rarely speak — if ever — and when they do, they are said to curse those they speak to. There's a reason they guard the Black Library, and even managed to repel an attempted incursion by Ahriman of the Thousand Sons. This is magnified tenfold when Cegorach manages to steal a doomed soul of a Solitaire from Slaanesh — the Laughing God places the Solitaire's soul into a Spirit Walker (like a massively souped-up Wraithlord, which retains the Solitaire's incredible agility in life, creating a Golem-like mecha.)
- More generally: The Harlequins are allowed to come and go through Commorragh as they please, because they are the only people in the Materium the Dark Eldar are afraid of.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Though superficially similar to us, the Xenology sourcebook shows that the Eldar are most definitely not human. Notable differences include blood that "crystallizes" instead of clotting, very different internal organs, being completely toothless (though they do have serrated jaws not unlike some bird species) and, much as with Star Trek's Ferengi, their main erogenous zones are their ears. Then again, Xenology contains material that directly contradicts models and codexes (showing the Tau with toes instead of hooves, for instance) so its reliability is questionable.
- Body to Jewel: Eldar blood crystallizes rather than forming scabs.
- Cassandra Truth:
- Averted horrifically. The Eldar seers warned their people that their decadence would destroy their civilization, and were ignored.
- More specifically, Eldrad Ulthran tried to warn Fulgrim and the Imperium about Horus's impending fall to Chaos, but his warnings were wasted because 1) Fulgrim didn't believe his brother would betray the Emperor, and 2) he was already in the midst of being corrupted by Slaanesh, so when Eldrad realized this he ordered his Eldar to kill Fulgrim's retinue, which made it easier to dismiss.
- Casual Interstellar Travel:
- Thanks to the Webway, an interdimensional Portal Network, the Eldar avoid the problems associated with Warp travel.
- Eldar ships also use Solar Sails to traverse space.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The one (and only) time the Imperium tried a mass elimination of the Eldar was a disastrous defeat, resulting in the loss of an entire sector fleet.
- Defector from Decadence: The surviving Eldar are all over the map on this one.
- The Craftworld Eldar rejected their ancestors' decadence in favor of highly structured lifestyles that enable them to focus their emotions and intellect in various Paths. However, there are many defectors from the rigid system of self-discipline that is the Path. Those who wish to think freely, experience the full range of emotions, or just be themselves rather than be a particular vocation willingly become Outcasts who leave their comfortable life on a craftworld and Walk the Galaxy to find themselves. Many of them retain loyalty to their craftworld of origin and accept positions as Rangers, becoming the craftworld's eyes and ears. Others join Harlequin troupes, become corsairs, seek out Commorragh, or return to their craftworld of origin and join a Path, but quite a lot of others just die far afield.
- The Exodites went in a completely different direction, favoring a simpler and more hard-working existence and rejecting much of the advanced technology and refined aesthetics of their ancestors, which the Craftworlds still embrace.
- Averted on a factional level by the Dark Eldar, as they willingly continue the lifestyle that accelerated their ancestors toward The Fall, to an even greater excess. However, they do occasionally have a few members who go rogue from that lifestyle. Some of them tire of having to constantly guard against their underlings planting a knife in their back while plotting to do the same to their superiors. Others are driven out by particularly nasty Kabalite politics. Some simply get bored of a lifetime of cruelty. These tend to leave Commorragh and give the Kabals a wide birth, as the galaxy is a dangerous place for one of their kind unsupported by others. Many join freelance Space Pirate companies, others become mercenaries or assassins, and some join Harlequin troupes.
- Also typically averted by Corsairs, who tend to enjoy their spoils and live fairly lavishly, although not to the excesses of their ancestors.
- The Fair Folk:
- Around 2nd Edition some players mistakenly believed that the Craftworld Eldar were "good" guys. Since then, Games Workshop has taken pains to show off their callous, manipulative nature.
- The Dark Eldar's lead re-designer, Phil Kelly, intentionally invoked a fairytale feel with their weaponry and appearance, with mirrors that can be shattered to kill the people they reflect, elven wild hunts on night raids, and the witch-like Haemonculi covens taking payment in abstract concepts like your ability to laugh. The Dark Eldar are beautiful, soulless horrors. This helps keep them connected to the Craftworld Eldar, who also have a strong fairy/elfin theme to them, while at the same time making them unique. Dark Eldar are, obviously, the "Dark Elves": the Elf as an inscrutable, alien monster, absorbed in its own selfish needs and seemingly infinite capacity for cruelty.
- Fantastic Racism: Although varying between individuals, and in spite of the Fall and the resulting destruction of their empire and sundering of their people, in general the Eldar have a substantial superiority complex, seeing all other sapient species as, at best, tools to be used and discarded should the need arise (and ignored otherwise), and at worst, a blight to be eradicated. Even the Eldar racial term for humans, "mon-keigh", has a very insulting context to it. That being said, apart from possibly the Tau, the Eldar are actually the most benevolent race to humans, which says more about the other races than anything else.
- The Dark Eldar take this one step further — they not only see all of the non-Eldar species as inferior, but the other Eldar as well, seeing themselves as the true scions of the Eldar race and the others as weak and unworthy. Several Black Library works also have Dark Eldar outright referring to humans as monkeys or apes.
- Fragile Speedster:
- Many Eldar vehicles, and indeed Eldar units in general, especially the Dark Eldar.
- Subverted by the ponderous Wraith constructs, considering their dis-embodied spirit status. However, they're still described as blindingly quick by the standards of other races. Even Fulgrim, a Primarch, is shocked by the sheer speed and ferocity of a wraithlord that attacks him in his titular book (and almost loses the fight if not for the influence of his MacGuffin). Their previous models had extremely long and lanky limbs, which seems to invoke this trope visually. note
- Glass Cannon: Eldar and Dark Eldar tend toward this, the latter more than the former.
- Human Outside, Alien Inside: Humans and Eldar look very much alike, aside from the ears and their height, but Eldar internal structure is very different.
- Magical Library: The Black Library contains the accumulated Eldar history and Chaos lore, and is tucked away deep in the Webway, guarded by the Harlequin elite.
- Our Elves Are Better: Eldar are Elves in space.
- Power Crystal: Psychic Power-enhancing technology in this setting often incorporates some kind of "mineral resonance". As the Eldar are masters of such "techno-witchery", crystals or polished stones are a recurring element among them. Either objects made of such crystals are used on their own, or crystals are incorporated into other pieces of their technology. The soulstone every Craftworld and Exodite Eldar wears on their person is a common example.
- The Right of a Superior Species: Their attitude in a nutshell. They're ancient, wise and (most importantly) dying out. Humans are young, idiotic, and there's plenty of them. Therefore, in their minds, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using them as meat-shields; they'll happily betray their human "comrades" the moment it becomes advantageous to do so, and will sacrifice millions of humans if such a sacrifice would mean that a single Eldar life can be saved. The Dark Eldar take this to even greater - and more horrifying - extremes:
Gideon: The torture, the terror, the raiding, the killing, maiming, stealing. Everything. Why?
Asdrubael Vect: Why should I not? You are of no consequence. If you had not been captured by my servants and did not fall foul of some illness or mishap, you would still die within another twenty of your planet's short years. Why should I not use such a pointless creature for my amusement and sustenance? You are prey-species. Nothing more.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Naturally, being Space Elves, the only thing separating them from (thin, angular) humans in terms of physical appearance is pointier ears.
- Screw You, Elves!: The Imperium routinely ignores the Eldar's warnings, and rather than arguing, just shoots them. Sometimes this is to their detriment.
- Self-Inflicted Hell: The Eldar have no pleasant afterlife waiting for them; having created Slaanesh, their souls are bound to be collected by him/her/it. One of the main things that separates and defines each of the surviving factions is how they avoid this fate.
- Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Compare the outfits of the Craftworld and other Eldar to those of the Dark Eldar, and you will see quite the difference. The outfits of the other Eldar, while tight-fitting, tend to be relatively modest. The Dark Eldar, particularly their Wych-cults, prefer to show off their bodies, as it's a mark of renown and prowess to be able to survive lethal battles while wearing minimal armor/clothing.
- Space Elves: The Eldar race as a whole, but in different directions:
- Craftworld Eldar are types I and II combined.
- Dark Eldar are a particularly nasty blend of types I and III.
- Exodites are type I.
- Averted with the Corsairs; they're just Space Pirates that happen to be elves.
- Space Pirates:
- Outcasts and simple traders from the Craftworlds are known to turn to piracy, sometimes massing into mighty Corsair Fleets. Prince Yriel commanded one of the most successful bands during his exile.
- The Dark Eldar are an entire race of Space Pirates, and Commorragh is basically an interdimensional pirate port city. Some of their skimmers even have gangplanks.
- The Stoic: Pretty much all Eldar are this, although Not So Stoic comes into play quite frequently.
- Superior Species: Eldar possess the usual racial advantages of stock fantasy elves. Their eyesight and reflexes are excellent to the point where humans look like slow-motion by comparison, they're super-intelligent (in theory, less so in practice), they live for thousands of years, and they're psychic.
- Terraform: The ancient Eldar mastered the art of subtle terraforming. Using farsight, they could figure out what minor elements to introduce to a world that would eventually lead to that world growing into a lush habitable planet with few dangers. This naturalistic terraforming takes eons, but the Eldar were patient. However, since the Fall, the Eldar have not had the numbers to settle these so-called "Maiden" worlds, or even necessarily police them. As a result, many of those now-habitable worlds were settled by other species ignorant of their origins. The Eldar consider this no less than theft and invasion, and this is the most frequent source of conflict between the Craftworlds and the Imperium.
- Time Abyss: Eldar live a really long time. This lifespan generally correlates with psychic potential and training, though the minimum is around a thousand years.
- Eldrad Ulthran reportedly warned the Imperium about Horus' treachery ten thousand years ago. He looked about fifty when he died.
- Some of the Dark Eldar have reached truely advanced ages, only surpassed by the Necrons. The haemonculi are universally old and effectively immortal, with the "haemonculi ancients" weaving plans for millenia. Asdrubael Vect claims to have witnessed the Fall of the Eldar and the birth of Slaanesh (which he survived due to being so young). That would make him around twelve thousand years old. This has turned out to be their curse, as their souls are decaying from sheer age.
- What Measure is a Non-Eldar?: The inverted case. Interestingly, various sources show that some Eldar do consider this question, but in almost all cases pragmatism wins out and when faced with the choice of saving one of their own or a number of humans, they'll pick their own kind every time.
- Although the Eldar hate the Orks, one philosopher, Uthan the Perverse, spoke very highly of them.
The Orks are the pinnacle of creation. For them, the great struggle is won. They have evolved a society which knows no stress or angst. Who are we to judge them? We Eldar who have failed, or the Humans, on the road to ruin in their turn? And why? Because we sought answers to questions that an Ork wouldn't even bother to ask! We see a culture that is strong and despise it as crude.
- Witch Species: Every Eldar is born with psychic potential, to the point that the Imperium even refers to them as a "witch-species". However, the different factions don't always stick with this.
- Unlike human psykers, who awaken into their power quickly (and occasionally disastrously), Craftworld Eldar unlock their power gradually, building up control and strength in a variety of disciplines, be they artist, healer, wright, or seer. Those Eldar who develop their potential along a warlike path are known for being some of the most powerful battlefield psykers in the galaxy. Farseers in particular are extremely powerful.
- As an example, in one of the fluff sections of the 13th Black Crusade, Eldrad Ulthran met with Ursarkar Creed where the latter was surrounded by a huge retinue of human psykers, and said psykers were almost knocked unconscious by the presence of the alien seer.
- Subverted by the Dark Eldar. Unlike their uncorrupted brethren, their psychic abilities are severely atrophied. This is partly due to their not using those powers for millennia to avoid attracting Slaanesh's attention more directly, and partly because their civilization places such a high value on physical prowess.
The Eldar who survived the Fall can be grouped into several categories:
"Ancient sadness. Star-city circling the burning nest. The silver horde has re-arisen. Kaelis-Ra awakes afresh, the ancient war resumed, spiderscuttle sorrow, all interlinked. Death in wraithsword, spirits infinity-bound. All is cyclical, all goes round yet remains the same. Always the dirges of echoes, always the bonework reflections. There is nothing new; just regret and impotence. We are lost in the dark, and there is no morning."
These Eldar live in vast, self-sufficient city-like starships known as "Craftworlds". To avoid falling prey to the dark desires
that ended their empire, they live strictly regimented and disciplined lives
, focusing their attentions on one "Path" at a time, be it artisan, scholar, or warrior. They are guided by prescient Farseers
who manipulate galactic events to favor their people. The general consensus is that they are a dying race, but they live in hope of somehow overcoming their decline, defeating Slaanesh
, and rebuilding their empire or to die trying.
In the game, if the Space Marines
are an army of generalists
, the Craftworld Eldar are an army of extreme specialists
— their Aspect Warriors excel at a particular battlefield role, but need to fulfill that role in order to be useful. The Eldar also make extensive use of skimmer
units such as jetbikes
, allowing them to swiftly bring devastating firepower to bear and outflank their opponents, while their leaders' psyker
abilities can help bolster their allies and swing the battle at pivotal instances. Appropriately for their race, success with the Eldar largely depends on predicting the enemy's battle-plan.
Notable Craftworld Eldar tropes include:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Obviously. Their chainswords (like many others) are described as having monomolecular edges, and their power swords having 'micro-crystalline blades.'
- Agent Peacock: The Craftworld Eldar as a whole fit this compared to other armies in the setting. Their seers wear voluminous fur-trimmed robes with elaborate designs on them, all their units have several polished gemstones set around their body, they all possess an unearthly physical beauty and move with a near-impossible amount of grace, most of their warriors dress in bright and bold colors in a variety of hue, their vanity and skills at manipulation are both legendary, and they are without a doubt one of the "prettiest" armies that can be fielded. However, they are also one of the deadliest armies in the galaxy; see Badass and Badass Army later in this section for those details.
- Air Jousting: Shining Spears are jetbike-mounted Aspect Warriors wielding deadly laser lances.
- Amazon Brigade: The Howling Banshees are a shrieking, ostensibly all-female type of Aspect Warrior. However, males can technically join, but the Banshee is considered a female spirit in Eldar mythology and any male who does join adopts a female persona and female-formed armor while they wear their "war mask".
- Animal Theme Naming: Falcon, Phoenix, Viper, Waveserpent...
- Badass: Do not dismiss the Eldar, for they are quite deadly.
- Becoming the Mask: Every Craftworld Eldar chooses a particular Path, adopting a vocation and mentality to go along with it. After they feel that they have learned all they can from that Path, they choose a new one, changing vocation and assuming a new mentality. In this way, not only do they learn about particular trades, but also teach themselves various traits to develop their character and establish control over their own passions. However, occasionally an Eldar may become "lost" along a particular Path, no longer able or necessarily willing to adopt a new one, becoming locked into that path for the remainder of their lives.
- In the case of those on the Path of the Warrior, these Eldar become Exarchs, who will have their souls absorbed into the soulstone of the Exarch Armor rather than their own Soulstone, so that their knowledge and guidance can pass onto a new generation, literally becoming the mask. This is also the same principle on how Phoenix lords are "reincarnated", as their soulstones are so powerful that their personalities override that of the wearer.
- In the case of Seers, they become Farseers, their dabbling into seeing the future eventually locking them into a Path in which they can do nothing else but continue. Their bodies gradually crystallize as a result of channeling the threads of fate, and they will eventually settle in the Dome of Crystal Seers, becoming a crystal statue that forms a new node in the Infinity Circuit.
- Berserk Button: Stole some Eldar soulstones? Broke them? All the Eldar will be very upset. The reason being that the stones contain fallen Eldar within them, and it's their only reprieve from the alternative of being consumed by Slaanesh. And soulstones can only be found on Crone Worlds — former Eldar planets that fell to Chaos, which inevitably leads to incredibly suicidal sorties or missions by Eldar forces to claim some of them.
- BFG: Many. Dark Reaper Exarchs are particularly notable, carrying handheld Tempest Launchers that fire clusters of missiles. Most of their heavy weaponry such as D-cannons can be seen as this as well.
- The Eldar Wraithlord in the fourth edition has a huge sword. The Avatar of Khaine's blade is named "The Wailing Doom", because it 'shrieks as it tastes mortal flesh.'
- The sixth edition Wraithknight takes this Up to Eleven by having a sword as tall as the Riptide!
- Eldar Witchblades in general are not exactly small and are able to rip through tanks and heavily armored infantry with ease.
- Big Good: Eldrad was this for Ulthwe.
- Brain Uploading: This is how the Craftworld Eldar save themselves from Slaanesh upon death - their souls are captured in Waystones for uploading into their craftworld's Infinity Circuit, which basically allows the Eldar's soul to become a part of their craftworld, allowing them to give advice to the living. While this isn't exactly a paradise, it's a heck of a lot better than being consumed by Slaanesh.
- Breast Plate: Averted for the most part (see Form-Fitting Wardrobe below). Female farseers in Dawn of War 2 have a minor case of Bare Your Midriff, but then they also have psychic Deflector Shields.
- Bullet Dodges You: The rune armor worn on the battlefield by Craftworld seers does not protect them by crudely absorbing or deflecting blows against them. Rather, it allows the seer to channel their power through it to alter the skein of fate such that danger headed in their general direction just tend to miss for whatever reason. It would be like Gun Kata, except that rather than moving their body to fit the statistics, the statistics move to fit their body.
- The Chessmaster: Farseers in general and Eldrad Ulthran in particular.
- Combat Clairvoyance:
- On a personal level, Eldar psykers can hold their own in close combat, as they literally know your every move. Combine with BFS or blades on a stick, usually psychically charged.
- On a strategic level, Eldar seers employ this to guide their warhosts to victory. The more senior seers read the skein of fate, divining what will happen in the near future if certain actions are taken, and their knowledge of the future is disseminated through the warhost via Psychic Link to the more junior seers who are embedded in individual detachments. In this way an Eldar warhost seems to move and react to enemy action with an almost unnatural (and often confusing) degree of alacrity.
- Craftworld Of Hats: The notable Eldar Craftworlds embody aspects of the elf racial archetype. Ulthwe places an emphasis on the Witch Species aspect of elvenkind, while the jetbike-riders of Saim-Hann epitomize the elf as a fey barbarian. Militant-minded Biel-Tan showcases the elf as a disciplined and merciless warrior, the rangers of Alaitoc are the elves as woodcrafty snipers, while Iyanden, which fields armies of constructs animated by the souls of the dead, ramps the "ancient race in decline" idea up to eleven.
- Crapsack Craftworld: Ulthwe is known as "Ulthwe the Damned", not because it's an unpleasant place, but because it has the misfortune of being so close to the Eye of Terror.
- In the (ancient) Inqusition War series of books by Ian Watson, Ulthwe is described as Scenery Gorn, its landscape and wraithbone arches ravaged by countless numbers of raids by daemons and Chaos Space Marines due to its location.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Both the weakness and the strength of the Eldar Aspect Warriors, whose units are often specifically equipped and trained to fight a certain opponent. It's said that if you pit six Eldar against six Space Marines, the Space Marines will kill all but one of their opponents but then be completely wiped out by the last Eldar.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: Life on a Craftworld. Reflected in a lot of the game artwork.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Craftworld Ulthwe dresses in black and bone. However, they're not considered evil by the standards of 40K, and are, in fact, relatively heroic (or at least often used as protagonists) and produced Eldrad.
- Deadly Disc: Shuriken catapults fire hundreds of small serrated ones every second.
- Death Is Cheap: Even if a Craftworld Eldar dies, they'll be fine so long as the soulstone isn't destroyed (more or less), and they can come back as a Wraithguard, a golem-esque thing that wields a cannon which operates by opening miniature black holes on the battlefield, or a Wraithlord.
- Death of a Thousand Cuts: Eldar shuriken weaponry, capable of firing a hundred monomolecular-edged discs in the span of a second or two. Except in this case, each "cut" can equate to severed limbs and decapitation. That's 40K for you.
- Dire Avengers take this even further through their ability Bladestorm, which allows them to put even more shots out.
- Deflector Shields: Many Eldar vehicles and some troop choices are equipped with these:
- Wave Serpents, their transport-skimmer vehicles, are equipped with energy shielding, making them notoriously difficult to take down.
- Dire Avengers also qualify, as some of their Exarchs are armed with Shimmershields, energy shields that protect him and his squad from melee attacks.
- Dissonant Serenity: Aspect Warriors and Exarchs during battle.
- Dragons Up the Yin Yang: The serpentine dragon is a common Eldar glyph, while the yin-yang has seen less usage in recent editions. The Eldar are also noteworthy for having a yin-yang divided into three sections, though the meaning behind it remains unexplained.
- One common interpretation of the three section yin-yang is that it represents the three moons of the Eldar homeworld, each of which is associated with one of their deities and feature prominently in their folklore and mythology.
- Due to the Dead: Not only is it imperative to recover the Waystones of the fallen, there is an entire Path dedicated to expressing the Craftworld's collective grief at its losses; were the others to allow themselves the full weight of sorrow, they would be paralysed in their necessary tasks.
- Emotion Eater: The warp spiders (the small wraithbone lifeforms from which the well-known aspect shrine takes its name) are these. They act like the infinity circuit's immune system, clustering around stray emotional signals (by "melting" into the circuit and reconstituting themselves elsewhere) which get trapped in there and consuming them like a phage. In this way, they keep the infinity circuit purified, leaving the existence for the souls within one of peace and calm serenity.
- Empathic Weapon: Usually because there's an occupied Soulstone on it somewhere containing an Eldar spirit.
- The diresword of Asurmen, first of the Phoenix Lords and the founder of the Dire Avenger Shrine, contains the spirit of his dead brother, Tethesis, who fell to a daemon.
- Enemy Mine:
- On rare occasions, Eldar and Imperial forces have joined together to battle Chaos forces, Tyranids, and Orks.
- The Battle Missions book elevates this a bit more; Eldar emissaries aid Imperial scholars in solving an anomaly. More Eldar fleets/forces joining up with or aiding Imperial troops against Dark Eldar raiders, Chaos, Necrons and Orks.
- Some members of the Inquisition have also had dealings with the Eldar for various reasons.
- In Eisenhorn, the titular Inquisitor is aided by Farseers in one particular mission. His teammate/protege, Gideon Ravenor, would later study Farsight under the Eldar, and his retinue members wear wraithbone talismans which he uses to psychically possess them when necessary.
- Inquisitor Czevak has spent a lot of time among the Eldar, and has even been given access to the Black Library.
- Face-Heel Turn: Arhra, Father of Scorpions and first Phoenix Lord of the Striking Scorpions, is believed to have gone to the Dark Eldar. He's assumed by many to be Drazhar, the most famous and prominent of Dark Eldar Incubi. Some of the older material hints that he may have fallen to Chaos as well.
- Not just the older material. A direct quote from the latest codex is that he "Burns with the Dark Light of Chaos."
- Some newer material (the Path series) gives some new information about Arhra. He was the most gung-ho about fighting Chaos, and was the only Phoenix Lord willing to fight for the Dark Eldar, citing that, despite being irredeemable assholes, they were still Eldar. Unfortunately, he was eventually struck down by Chaos, burning with its "Dark Light" which drove most of his students mad when they looked at him. However, told his remaining sane students that only his body had been corrupted, not his soul. And so, after they slayed his body, they then feasted on his soul.
- The Faceless: Wraithguard, Wraithlords, and Wraithknights.
- A Farseer Did It: If the Craftworld Eldar do anything which seems, either overtly or on reflection, to be perhaps against their own interests or just an inefficient way of securing those interests, then it is because a Farseer determined through precognition that was the best way to secure their future. They need not explain the complexity of their visions or their gambits to you.
- Form-Fitting Wardrobe:
- Characteristic of Guardians and Aspect Warriors. Justified in that they incorporate technology into their combat armor that subtly changes its shape to conform to the wearer's body as they move.
- Averted in the case of Farseers and Warlocks, who prefer elaborate robes.
- Fuuma Shuriken: The triskele is a three-bladed weapon thrown like a discus, after which it returns to its wielder's hand.
- Generation Ships: Craftworlds, of the "no destination" variant. They're spaceborn metropoli capable of housing entire fleets.
- Golem: Wraithguard and Wraithlords are constructs "piloted" by a dead Eldar spirit housed in a Soulstone.
- Have You Seen My God?: All but three of the Eldar Gods were wiped out by Slaanesh: Cegorach, the Laughing God who hides in the Webway, fighting from the sides; Kaela Mensha Khaine, the War God who was shattered into a billion pieces and was gathered up into the Craftworlds to serve as the Avatars of Khaine; and Isha, the Eldar Mother Goddess, who is a prisoner of Nurgle and test subject for his plagues. In what may be the only example of God Is Good in this setting, Isha whispers the cures to Nurgle's plagues when he isn't looking. (He knows she does it, but lets her get away with it because he's plague-ridden head-over-rotting heels in love with her. Not to mention this lets him find flaws in his plagues, allowing him to modify the next batch accordingly). The Eldar are also trying to create Ynnead, the God of Death, powered by the Craftworlds' Infinity Circuits, who will rise strong enough to defeat Slaanesh when the last Eldar dies, which will see the Eldar purified of their past sins and be reborn...in theory.
- He Will Not Cry, so I Cry for Him: Those on the Path of Mourning, dedicated to expressing a Craftworld's collective grief so those on other Paths will not have their progress blunted by that sorrow.
- Higher-Tech Species: The Eldar have been a starfaring civilization far longer than any other currently active race (with the possible exception of the Necrons) and their technology (based on a fusion of psychic powers and conventional mechanics) reflects that.
- Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Eldar at war tend to wear uniforms with bright colors proclaiming their allegiance to their craftworld or aspect shrine. Even the ones with darker uniforms usually have bright hues to provide sharp contrast. Possibly justified by their heavy use of holofields and chameleoline when they actually get down to fighting.
- Hover Tanks: The Eldar are one of only two races to use these. Based around graceful, bird-like chassis, they lack the armor of land-bound tanks, but are orders of magnitude more mobile, and can bring exotic and powerful weaponry to bear swiftly and where the enemy is most vulnerable.
- Humongous Mecha: Like many other races, the Eldar have their own Titans, the Phantom◊ being the biggest, whose model is over 4 feet tall, making it one of the largest models available for the game and the largest mecha produced by Forge Worldnote . There are larger models (the Tau Manta being the largest) but none larger designed to stand upright.
- Implacable Man: The Wraithguard and Wraithlords, constructs fueled by the souls of dead Eldar warriors. The latter are huge, equipped with a large array of weapons, from giant missile launchers to gigantic Wraithswords. The former are smaller versions, equipped with guns that open a rift to hell. Literally.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: While the Eldar are known to have a military of extreme specialists, within that context the specialization of the Dire Avengers aspect warriors is to be as flexible and adaptable in combat as possible. There are other aspect warriors types that are better at various particular tasks, but few of them can match the Dire Avengers' versatility.
- Jerkass Woobie: What with their entire race edging towards extinction, the Eldar seem pretty sympathetic. Seeing this, Games Workshop invoked several Kick the Dog moments on their part in more recent editions of the fluff to play up their Manipulative Bastard qualities to balance out their "good-guy" image.
- Kill It with Fire:
- Eldar Fire Dragon Aspect Warriors and their Storm Guardians — the Exarch of the Fire Dragons can wield 'dragon's breath' flamethrowers, while the standard troops carry fusion guns, capable of melting heavily armored tanks into piles of molten slag.
- The Avatar of Khaine is a huge metal giant of war that is also covered in flames. Its sword is also on fire.
- Lava Adds Awesome: The Avatar of Khaine resembles an iron statue when inert, but when awakened becomes a Golem animated with Khaine's will, turning molten in the process with Khaine's fury. The outer plates of it are generally a little cooler and darken, while the molten parts of it glow visibly between the cracks.
- Legacy Character: The Phoenix Lords are the epitomes of the Aspect Warriors, and if slain will simply reincarnate into the next person to wear their armor. For this reason, Phoenix Lords contain the souls of untold thousands of Eldar.
- This is true to a lesser extent of virtually all Exarchs. With their armor being a self-contained Infinity Circuit unto itself, every time an Aspect Warrior gets trapped in their path they will go to don the discarded armor of a previous Exarch, adopting that Exarch's name and merging their personality into the collective of all the armor's previous wearers. The Phoenix Lords are simply the oldest, most dangerous, best known, and most continuously active of the Exarchs.
- Most Eldar technology is based on an interaction of Psychic Powers with more conventional elements. Virtually all of their technology uses a psychic interface, and some are directly animated by the souls of the dead.
- The Infinity Circuit that runs through each craftworld is, in addition to a repository for the souls of the dead, a giant database that the living can psychically interface with to ask questions to seek the wisdom of the departed, or send messages to others across the craftworld, almost like a computer network.
- Wraithbone, which comprises the majority of eldar technology, is described to be solidified psychic energy. They can apparently carry a current, morph to any shape, and heal if necessary, making them literally Magic-tech.
- Mind Hive: Eldar exarchs are not joined into the Infinity Circuit upon their death. Instead, their soul remains embedded in their armor, the entire suit functioning as a soulstone, which will be returned to the craftworld. When an aspect warrior becomes newly locked into their path, they will don the armor of a previously felled exarch, adopting that exarch's name and position, and the minds of the previous exarchs to wear the armor will combine with that of the current wearer, with the mind and personality of the first to be the most dominant. The Phoenix Lords are the oldest of the exarchs, having been killed and risen again thousands of times each, their physical bodies having been turned into a sea of energy contained within their armor. When they speak, it is with the collective voice of the souls that compose them. Interestingly enough, their first identity is overwhelmingly dominant, while "ordinary" Exarchs show more of their current wearer's personality than any other.
- No One Gets Left Behind: Each Eldar wears a Soulstone to save their spirit from Slaanesh, and they will go to great lengths to recover them for housing in their Craftworld's Infinity Circuit.
- Our Elves Are Better: Worth repeating here, even in contrast to the other Eldar groups. No matter how good you think you are at something, there is a Craftworld Eldar who has walked further down that path, devoted more time and energy to mastering it, than you ever could. Of course, whether they can do anything else well is another matter entirely.
- Pet the Dog:
- Physical God: When war is near and the Craftworld hums with barely-contained battle-lust, an Exarch is chosen for a special duty. This "Young King" is sacrificed in order to awaken the Avatar of Kaela Mensha Khaine, the Eldar's bloody-handed god of murder. Said Avatar is at least twelve feet tall, carrying a burning blade known as the Wailing Doom in one hand, while the other perpetually drips with gore. It's also made out of molten iron and is constantly on fire.
- Power Fist: While not as common among the Eldar (who prefer more elegant weapons as a rule) as it is among the Imperium, the Eldar do have a few models unique to them. For example, Exarches of the Striking Scorpion aspect temple are sometimes known to use a power-fist shaped into an elaborate claw. Eldar Wraithlords have also traditionally had a pair of power-fists, but more recent models tend to favor BFSes instead.
- Harlequin Solitaires were equipped with Storm Gloves in older editions... which were pretty much exactly the same as power fists.
- Psychic Link: Usually runs through the entire Eldar army.
- The Red Baron: The Phoenix Lords all have an appropriately badass nickname.
- Screaming Warrior: Howling Banshees are close-combat specialists recruited from those who seek the path of the warrior out of a desire to vent their destructive rage by screaming their anger to the world. They are trained to hone this desire, to focus their fury, and scream efficiently. They are then equipped with special masks which amplify this scream, projecting it through the warp around them, causing others nearby to be shaken and stunned by the effect of it, setting them up as easy pray for the Banshees' blades.
- Sealed Badass in a Can: A weird example. Eldar seal the badass inside their own heads. All Eldar undergo training into different Paths and acquire different skills during their long lives, and often they'll tie these skills to a Split Personality. This extends to combat training, so when an Eldar is called to war, they'll adopt this new personality and become the badass, then change back to their normal personality when the battle is over. When an Aspect Warrior loses the ability to change back to his/her old selves, he/she becomes an Exarch. Other paths have their own answer to the Exarch, like Farseers and Pathfinders.
- Seers: The most treacherous path is the "Path of the Seer", where the Craftworld Eldar cultivate their psychic potential. Those who walked the Path of the Warrior go onto to become Warlocks. Those who become lost on the Path become Farseers, Eldar who can see extremely far into the future and thus predict which path is best for the Eldar. Farseers thus either compose the leadership of Craftworlds, or advise those who do. Exact leadership practices vary from Craftworld to Craftworld, but Farseers are almost always party to it.
- Shiny-Looking Spaceships: Craftworld Eldar spacecraft tend toward sleek, swan-like graceful curves of an immaculate hull. Their ships are at least as old as most Imperial models, some even older, but the self-maintaining nature of the Eldar's wraithbone technology tends to keep them looking pristine even after millennia of wear and tear.
- Sniper Rifle: The Long Rifle carried by Eldar Rangers is a misnomer, as it is a form of laser weapon, similar to the long-las used by Imperial marksmen. However, the superior focusing crystals manufactured by the Eldar allow it to maintain better penetration qualities at range and it comes equipped with a scope designed to scan and highlight weaknesses in enemy armor so that the Ranger can better take advantage of it.
- Soul Jar: Every Eldar wears on their person a gem or polished stone known alternatively as a soulstone, spiritstone, or waystone, designed to capture their soul at the time of their death, anchoring it to the material universe and denying it to Slaanesh, who would consume it otherwise. Typically that soulstone will be brought to an Infinity Circuit, allowing the soul to join with others stored there in a sort of afterlife where the living may consult them and seek their collective knowledge.
- Split Personality: Actively cultivated as Eldar travel down a Path, but sometimes they get stuck in one. Exarchs, for example, are Aspect Warriors who are unable to leave the Path of the Warrior, and take up the name of the last to wear their armor.
- Spock Speak: Eldar who speak Gothic do so in a very elevated, careful register; their own language is often translated the same way. This leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny in Path of the Warrior when a Striking Scorpion makes a masturbation joke without breaking this tone.
- Taken for Granite: Farseers who happen to live long enough will see their bodies start to crystallize. If they live to "die" of old age, they effectively become a crystal statue that is physically tied to their Craftworld's Infinity Circuit.
- Technopath: Due to most Craftworld Eldar technology being constructed out of psychically-sensitive materials such as wraithbone.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Eldar/Imperial teamups are more likely to be this than anything due to the factions' mutual dislike.
- Unusual Weapon Mounting: Striking Scorpion Aspect Warriors have Mandiblasters, weapons that shoot needles that are superheated to conduct a highly charged laser charge. They're mounted on their helmets' cheeks.
- Token Evil Teammate: Ahrha The Father of Scorpions, the only Phoenix Lord to go bad.
- Vertical Mecha Fins: Present on some Eldar units, which have curved fins protruding from the back behind the shoulders, such as Guardians and Wraithlords. Certain other units have only a single fin mounted from the spine, such as Wraithguard and Eldrad Uthran.
- Vestigial Empire
- Vision Quest: An entire Path, "The Path of the Dreamer", is devoted to this. Those who walk this Path do so out of a need to understand their own subconscious and discover what it is that they most desire. Such dreamers often put themselves in a particularly vivid dreamlike state through use of a hallucinogenic plant called dreamleaf.
- Volcanic Veins: A characteristic of the Avatar of Khaine.
- Walking the Galaxy: Eldar Rangers are those who have have tired of an ultra-disciplined life on a Craftworld and taken up the Path of the Outcast, wandering from world to world. Though when their home Craftworld goes to war, Rangers will return and lend their skill as pathfinders and snipers.
- War God: Khaine.
- Warrior Monk: Not only are the Exarchs teachers and leaders of the Aspect Warriors, they are also the priests of Kaela Mensha Khaine. Those Eldar who join the Aspect temples do so most often to fulfill a spiritual need, to learn to confront and control the more destructive urges in their souls, making them lay-members of the temple.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: One of the big reason why Exarches are particularly feared by other Eldar is that, unlike many others who become trapped in their path, Exarches are not allowed to join the Infinity Circuit upon their death, lest their Blood Lust taint it. Instead, each Exarch will have their soul stored in their armor, and that soul will join with whomever takes up the armor next after their physical body dies, reincarnating in a cycle of violence until the end of time, in a bloody existence consisting of nothing but waging war and training for more for war. The only way any Exarch can escape this fate and find some measure of rest is if they are ritualistically sacrificed as The Young King to awaken the Avatar of Khaine.
Don't let them take you alive.
The Dark Eldar
are a living reminder of the depravity that consumed the Eldar race and led to the Fall. Based in the nightmarish city/nexus of Commorragh
, hidden deep in the inter-dimensional Webway
, they were shielded from the psychic backlash of Slaanesh's birth and thus were able to maintain the old ways, flourishing while the Craftworlds drifted in the void. However, over the many millennia since the Fall, their souls began to wither and fade from sheer age, a bleeding out which could only be staunched with the psychic feedback created by the pain and suffering of others. As a result, the entirety of Dark Eldar "civilization" is focused on attacking other peoples, slaughtering anyone in their path and taking captives back to Comorragh for bloodsports, scientific experiments, or simple torture. They are pirates and raiders
beyond compare, appearing out of nowhere, striking, and departing as swiftly as they came. The Dark Eldar revel in violence and bloodshed, savoring the terror and pain they create in their victims as it makes them "whole" once more. Their every action against their enemies and victims is as cruel and sadistic as they can manage, and many aspects of their lives are brutally masochistic, as their own pain can help when others' is not handy.
There is an inherent duality to Dark Eldar society. They are monstrously proud and yet their every act is born from fear of not outpacing their damnation. They desire nothing more than mastery and dominion over others, but are all slaves to their own addiction. They possess impossibly advanced technology and have incredible personal power, and yet the gnawing hunger in their souls forever reminds them that they are but inches from annihilation.
In the game, the Dark Eldar army is best compared to a scalpel - precise and quite dangerous, but fragile. Though their weapons are powerful and often have damaging effects on enemy morale, their soldiers are frail and lightly-armored. To compensate, their army is highly mobile, featuring open-topped skimmer transports to quickly get troops exactly where needed. They are easy to play badly, but if used well, the Dark Eldar are devastating.
Notable Dark Eldar tropes include:
- Agony Beam: For battlefield and recreational use.
- Alien Geometries: The twilight city of Commorragh is not actually a contiguous location, but rather a collection of smaller cities, ports, massive arenas, and various fortified niches scattered throughout the galaxy, that exist only within the Webway and are interconnected via Webway portals. This gives it a unique, non-Euclidian quality that non-Eldar would find mildly disturbing and disorienting, if not for the fact that they're generally too distracted by intense torture, painful enslavement, or being agonizingly warped into twisted monstrosities to notice.
- And I Must Scream: Dark Eldar like to drag out the suffering of their pain-slaves as long as possible, so as to milk as much agony from them as possible. They are extremely skilled at this, keeping captives alive for months or even years in some cases when they should have otherwise died or managed to take their own life. If a captive dies in Dark Eldar custody, it is usually because they let that pain-slave die, after it became too desensitized to all the suffering being inflicted on it and they wanted a fresher source of agony to replace them.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Because of various considerations that shape Dark Eldar combat philosophy, gathering and analyzing intelligence on the enemy is a primary part of their strategic doctrine. Thanks to their abilities and arcane technologies, they are very good at it. When the Dark Eldar attack, it is often by complete surprise, with overwhelming force, and with exactly enough time to fade away before enemy reinforcements can get to them. This does occasionally fail them though, if a particularly canny enemy can manage to give them bad information through effective counter-intelligence, as their dependence on knowing the enemy better than they know themselves leaves them highly vulnerable to traps that play on their hubris.
- Back from the Dead: In an attempt to explain how Dark Eldar maintain their numbers in the face of their Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, the fifth edition codex revealed that the Haemonculi have mastered the art of resurrecting their customers as long as any pieces of them can be found. Urien Rakarth, the oldest and looniest Haemonculus, has died hundreds of times and grown addicted to dying in new and interesting fashions.
- Badass Jetbiker:
- Dark Eldar on Reaver jetbikes are skilled enough to sever specific arteries during drive-by attacks with their bladed vehicles, despite being hopped-up on combat drugs.
- While the Reavers are the actual bikers, the Hellions have the punk street-racing rebel aesthetic associated with biker gangs.
- The Beastmaster: Literally. They get three options for animal companions - a big monster, an interdimensional Hell Hound, and more birds than a Hitchcock film.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Seriously. The Dark Eldar will torture you to death (very slowly), not just so they can feed on your agony, but simply for the hell of it. One of the their codices even had the Tag Line, "Pray they don't take you alive."
- BFS: Incubus klaives.
- Bifurcated Weapon: The leader of an Incubi squad, called a Klaivex, has the option of replacing his klaive with a pair of demiklaives: two relatively normal-sized swords that can combine into a BFS that's even bigger than his normal BFS.
- Big Bad: Asdrubael Vect, Supreme Lord of the Kabal of the Black Heart and de facto High Lord of Commorragh, is a good contender.
- Blood Knight:
- The Incubi live only to fight and hone their martial prowess. Not money, not power, not prestige, not titles.
- The morally best of the Dark Eldar are "just" this, natural-born killers doing what they love without cruelty or malice.
- Blood Lust: Though followers of Khorne are pretty blood-crazy, the Dark Eldar are the ones who eroticize it.
- Body Horror: The Haemonculi love to inflict this on their slaves, minions, and even patrons. Many Dark Eldar weapons are poisoned, causing agonizing pain. Even the armor used by Kabalite Warriors is put on by piercing one's skin with the plates.
- Brains and Bondage: Dark Eldar consider the inflicting and receiving of pain to be both a science and a form of art, and will happily engage in intellectual discussions (and demonstrations) of the various ways of doing so.
- Bondage Is Bad: Dark Eldar clothing, armor, weapons, accoutrements, and even hairstyles all have a BSDM flavor, but to a nightmarish extreme.
- The Brute: Grotesques. While all Dark Eldar are brutal, the Grotesques are giant, mutated, half-sapient Frankenstein's Monsters.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Standard Dark Eldar behavior.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: The Dark Eldar take this to a horrifying extreme, both to feed on their victims' pain and because they enjoy it.
- Combat Sadomasochist: So much that the armour used by members of Kabals is attached to the Eldar by piercings, and they have a special rule called "Power From Pain."
- The Consigliere: A Hierarch serves as this for their Archon.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: While each and every race and faction in the game is capable of causing this, the Dark Eldar are particularly (and terrifyingly) good at it.
- Cruel Mercy: The only time the Dark Eldar ever show mercy or generosity is because of this trope. If they ever offer to help you out of a bad situation, the odds are it is because they plan on keeping your alive for something worse to come. Their rescue of Craftworld Iyanden or military aid and "cultural exchange" with the Tau are prime examples.
- Dark Action Girl: Lady Malys, who feels like a particularly cunning Magical Girl anime villain, and Lelith Hesperax, down to the athleticism, Stripperiffic outfit and sexy voice. Indeed, the Dark Eldar can field more female models than any army, other than the Sisters of Battle (though one could take an all female army, if you wished), and they are all dark.
- Dark Chick: The entire race as a whole fits for the more antagonistic factions (Chaos, Orks, Necrons and Tyranids).
- Death from Above: You're doing your business on your out of the way planet, minding your own business, and suddenly, the sky rips open. Out of these interdimensional bullet wounds, wave after wave of ships pour out. The Nightstalkers have come.
- Death Seeker: A variation. Urien Rakarth has died in battles and been resurrected countless times over millennia, and has grown an addiction to it. To this end, he is constantly seeking new and more interesting ways to get killed. He's such a Combat Sadomasochist that he actually enjoys dying. You know how like a bored gamer tries to get their character killed in funny ways as a bit of a laugh? Think along those lines, except the gamer is the character.
- Designer Babies: Most Dark Eldar are grown in People Jars. Having 'trueborn' children is a luxury only afforded to the upper class. This, plus the aforementioned ability to resurrect the dead, are the two reasons why the Dark Eldar are not only not going extinct, but are implied to actually be thriving as a race.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Many Dark Eldar take to the battlefields of the 41st Millennium barefoot, for various reasons: the Mandrakes are living shadows, the Hellions ride flying skyboards, the Scourges have wings, Urien Rakarth and the other Haemonculi float above the battlefield on suspensors, and Lelith Hesperax is apparently just that badass.
- The Dragon: The aptly named Dracons serve as field commanders for the Archons.
- Emotion Eater: Mainly fear and pain.
- Enigmatic Minion/Hidden Agenda Villain:
- Drazhar, in the sense that he lacks any obvious motives and desires outside of maybe being a Blood Knight. What makes him such an enigma is his lack of ambition and rumors (supported by his stats and rules) that he is a fallen Eldar Phoenix Lord. Unlike most Dark Eldar, he's just there to fight, never uttering a single word. Even his name is unknown - 'Drazhar' is simply a title.
- Both the Decapitator and Lelith Hesperax could also qualify - they are somewhat more scrutible than Drazhar, but they rarely talk, and simply show up in an Archon's court before a raid to join them, do their business on the field of battle, and dissapear to tend to their collections. The Decapitator in particular is collecting skulls in an effort to summon something from Beyond the Warp.
- Evil Counterpart: To the other Eldar, of course.
- Eviler than Thou: There is a short comic where a Dark Eldar Reaver ends up possessed by a Daemon. It says that it is going to use him to cause lots and lots of pain and suffering. The Dark Eldar's response? "Good".
- Evil Genius: The Haemonculi.
- Evil Overlord: Archons, the leaders of Kabals. None more so than Asdrubael Vect.
- The Fair Folk: IN SPACE!, and their darkest and nastiest aspects.
- Fate Worse than Death:
- Their are many cruel fates, horrible deaths, ungodly painful existences within the Warhammer 40K universe, but all of them are preferable to the Dark Eldar taking you alive.
- For the Dark Eldar themselves, it's dying in a place or way that prevents the haemonculi from being able to resurrect them, for it means their souls are irrevocably lost to Slaanesh.
- The Fighting Narcissist: The Dark Eldar in general rival the followers of Slannesh for biggest ones in the setting (not surprising considering their predecessors created Slannesh through their behavior.) A Dark Eldar will consider themselves inherently superior to any other race, and when they fight it is for the joy of inflicting pain on their "lessors".
- Five-Bad Band: The Special Characters.
- Flechette Storm: The standard Dark Eldar weapon fires a hail of "splinter" rounds, usually coated with toxins and venoms to paralyze their prey for easy capture.
- Foreshadowing: The fifth edition Warhammer 40K rulebook contains several pieces of art foreshadowing the Dark Eldar models that would appear in 2010-2011. But best of all, there is a small Easter Egg hidden in a chart detailing "Pirate Activity Based Upon Segmentae Fleet Patrol Reports": a ten year lull in installation and world attacks (978-988), followed by a massive spike in activity. Meta.Explanation
- For the Evulz: Literally; the Dark Eldar's entire existence is based around causing pain and suffering.
- In their newest codex, the Dark Eldar save Iyanden Craftworld from a Chaos attack that would've probably destroyed them. Why? Because the Eldar were so low on troops, they had to use Necromancy, taking the souls of the dead out of the Infinity Circuit and putting them into armor, just to survive. The Dark Eldar were so amused by this that they wanted to make sure it continued, so they saved the Eldar.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Asdrubael Vect started out as a slave, and is now Overlord of Commarragh.
- Gladiator Games:
- Wyches are gladiators (or, more often, gladiatrices), lead by trainer-champions known as succubi, the greatest of which is Lady Lelith Hesperax. In an interesting twist, these gladiator games serve as both Bread and Circuses - they are sponsored by nobles to entertain and feed the lower classes, as the Dark Eldar feed on suffering and murder. Even the metaphysical scraps from a mass slaughter of pit-fighters is enough to keep the masses alive. This even extends to watching recordings of such fights, as mentioned in Lelith Hesperax's codex entry. Particularly deviant souls swap recordings of her in the arena, watching her perform her murderous art.
- If Wyches are the gladiators, the Reaver jet bikers are the Circus Maximus equivalent, killing each other in death races, using the bikes themselves as their weapons. In third edition, the Hellions were a wych cult off-shoot as well, but their 5th edition codex turned them into a biker gang.
- Glamour: Many of the important Dark Eldar are the same individuals that survived the fall of the Craftworld Eldar (an entire 10,000 years from the game's "present"), but you couldn't tell by the way they cover it up.
- Glamour Failure: A psyker or daemon can see through their visage and see them as the hideous, decaying corpse-like monsters they really are, kept alive far longer than should be possible.
- Good Wings, Evil Wings: Averted with Scourges, who can seemingly choose what kind of wings they want and having feathers isn't an indication of being any nicer.
- Face-Heel Turn: Drazhar, the most famous and prominent of Dark Eldar Incubi, is assumed by many to have once been Arhra, Father of Scorpions and first Phoenix Lord of the Striking Scorpions. Some of the older material hints that he may have fallen to Chaos as well.
- Hellhound: Some Dark Eldar warbands are accompanied by packs of Warp Beasts, which are... vaguely hound-like.
- Horny Devils: A race of sadomasochists including units called Incubi and Succubi, sometimes with whips. The Dark Eldar are about the third most popular Fetish Fuel faction.
- Horror Hunger: If there is something remotely sympathetic about the Dark Eldar, it is the combination of existential dread and the gnawing hunger that drives them to torture their victims. They are constantly weakening due to this hunger, and their souls are likened to "leaky buckets" by Phil Kelly that must be refilled with the torment of others. On the other hand, they were bastards to begin with. There's also the fact that, as the Craftworld and Exodite Eldar show, they don't have to survive on the suffering of others. They actively chose it over denying their desires. Some Dark Eldar, having realized this, can (and occasionally do) choose to leave this life behind. Some that do this even end up joining the Craftworld and Exodite Eldar.
- Ignored Epiphany: This is the Dark Eldar's hat: being painfully aware of what led to their civilization's downfall, yet willfully continuing that very same existence, to even greater excesses. Every now and then, a few Dark Eldar realize how foolish this is and leave Comorragh. Sometimes they even end up on a Craftworld.
- I Have Many Names: The Dark Eldar are "dusk wraiths" to the people of Prometheus and "primuls" to the Iron Snakes.
- Immortality Immorality: They sustain themselves longer than even other Eldar can live naturally by literally feeding on the pain, terror and misery of others.
- I'm Your Worst Nightmare: It's said that the Dark Eldar aren't your worst nightmare; they're your every nightmare.
- Interplay of Sex and Suffering: The pain of others is rejuvenating to the Dark Eldar, and being near those who suffer invigorates them. For many, this also serves as an aphrodisiac, indulging their joy at being alive, while someone else suffers in their place.
- It Amused Me: In the short story "The Torturer's Tale" written by Gav Thorpe, a particularly resilient human captive who had survived many tortures was brought before Asdrubael Vecht and treated to some wine. Vecht related the story of the fall of the Eldar to this human, explaining how they came to be the way they are. When the human asked why he was told this, Vecht admitted it was simply because he enjoyed telling the tale, and everyone else in his household already knew it. He also refuses to finish the story, deliberately frustrating the human's curiosity.note
- Klingon Promotion / You Kill It, You Bought It: The fastest way to commanding a Kabal is to kill the sitting Archon.
- Lean and Mean: Like most Eldar, they are particularly tall, lithe, and graceful. Unlike most other Eldar, they are especially nasty and cruel.
- Living Shadow: The Mandrakes and Khymerae are both interdimensional beasts who melt in and out of the shadows.
- Made a Slave: They routinely enslave humans...who usually don't last long. Part of Ciaphas Cain's background is that he was briefly a prisoner on a Dark Eldar slave ship; the experience still haunts him, although so far no details have been given.
- Go-Go Enslavement: Games Workshop produced decorative "slave girl" models that looked like a normal woman and a Sister of Battle in Princess Leia outfits.
- Sex Slave: Implied by the use of Go-Go Enslavement and ambiguous language like "ravage" and "defile" in their codex.
- Commorragh Needs Women: ...and men...and Orks...and Tau...and Kroot...and anything else that you can enslave, rape and torture.
- Mad Scientist: Haemonculi are more than just Torture Technicians, they are experts in biology, chemistry, fleshcrafting, and the ethereal manipulation of elemental emotion, among other things. They are always looking to further their understanding of these fields For Science!, said science primarily being that of pain. They will conduct all manner of amoral experimentation, and if those experiments are done on unwilling subjects that suffer horribly under the Haemonculus' tender ministrations, well, so much the better...
- Malevolent Mutilation: Haemonculi indulge in this freely, modifying their own bodies as they please, both to enhance their own abilities and to fit an increasingly twisted sense of aesthetics. They will often assemble an array of sycophants eager to serve a skilled Haemonculus in exchange for body modification well beyond what even the Dark Eldar as a whole consider normal (which is a lot.) The Grotesques are likewise subject to similar modification, but they never asked for it to begin with...
- Master Swordsman: The Incubi, who can wield monstrously heavy two-handed power-swords that can cleave Terminator Marines in-twain like a cheerleader would with a light-baton.
- Multiple Choice Past: Vect claims he saw the Fall and led his people into Comorragh. Others say he was an upstart slave.
- Nitroboost: On the tabletop, the Dark Eldars' Reaver jetbike has a 36" turboboost. Holy crap.note
- Noble Demon: Incubi possess a code of martial honor and are more interested in swordplay than politics. This makes them the go-to choice when an Archon wants bodyguards, as they are some of the only Dark Eldar the Archon can trust to not try and stab him in the back.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The Dark Eldar are a bunch of good-looking, pale-skinned, aristocratic, manipulative, soul-drinking creatures of the night. Phil Kelly even compared them to vampires in an interview.
- Pirate: One of the reason the Eldar race as a whole has a reputation for being capricious brigands is that some Imperial officers can't tell the difference between Dark and Craftworld Eldar.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Dark Eldar Scourges are used as message carriers between Dark Eldar who want to ensure that the message arrives safe and unread. Because of this vital role they play in Dark Eldar society, the Kabals come down hard on anyone who messes with them.
- Private Military Contractors: When not operating as Space Pirates, the Dark Eldar have been known to hire themselves out as mercenaries to stupid, stupid clients.
- Psycho Serum: The skills of the Haemonculi make them adept at producing a variety of drugs that can enhance a Dark Eldar's already formidable prowess, and they sell these to their most wealthy patrons. If that turns the customer into a psychotic killer for the duration of the high, well, they were never that far off from it in the first place, and so much the better as far as the customers are concerned...
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When a Kabal suffers a major defeat, other Dark Eldar Kabals will band together to avenge them, though the many opportunities to indulge Chronic Backstabbing Disorder often keeps such alliances brief and sometimes painful for one or more participating Kabals. They do this not out of any love for the defeated Kabal (who will certainly lose much face and power for having been defeated) but because if they do not, it might make the entire society of Commorragh seem weak and embolden their lessors. Such revenge is often of very specific targets involved in the prior defeat and terrible indeed, that the "inferior" races might be better reminded of their place and the cost of defying Commorragh.
- Romanticized Abuse: The Dark Eldar lust to inflict pain on others the way other species lust for their own physical desires. Their behavior in this regard is every bit as fetishistic as it is terrible.
- Sky Surfing: Hellions are glaive-wielding Dark Eldar on blade-winged flying platforms.
- Smug Snake: Most Dark Eldar fit into this category, taking the inherent Eldar arrogance to new heights.
- Space Is an Ocean: The Dark Eldar will fly through space in what look like Chinese junks, complete with sails, some wearing only flak jackets and thongs. Metal.
- Spikes of Villainy: Dark Eldar models have so many blades on them, they can be downright hazardous to handle.
- The Starscream: Every Dark Eldar, save for Asdrubael Vecht, and only because he's at the absolute top of the power structure, and the Incubi, as they are too busy perfecting the art of swordcraft to involve themselves in Kabalite politics.
- Stripperific: Wyches are gladiators who prefer to rely on lightning speed, superior reflexes, and combat prowess to wearing armor...or even clothing. In fact, the Wychs' status and renown is inversely proportional to the amount of protective gear they wear in combat, with the most skilled fighting nearly naked.
- The Syndicate: Dark Eldar society is ruled by competing crime syndicates/pirate fleets known as Kabals. Kabalite Warriors are basically made men and women, protected by their Kabal, and Archons are basically Godfathers. It doesn't hurt that the name Commorragh is a referenced to Gomorrah, the Biblical sister city of Sodom, twisted into a pseudo-Irish homophone for the Camorra clans of Naples.
- Token Good Teammate:
- While not exactly "good", especially given the setting, the Incubi are the only Dark Eldar who aren't backstabbing, power-hungry sadomasochists, and the only ones who still worship the old Eldar gods, instead of the Dark Muses. Though they do go through Training from Hell where the weak are sacrificed while seeking to perfect the art of murder, they're saints compared to the rest.
- Along the same lines, fans have often mused that Lelith Hesperax is this. After all, she doesn't torture, she doesn't rape, she doesn't do drugs, she doesn't backstab...all she does is kill people. But then, who doesn't in this setting?
- Too Dumb to Live: People actually hire the Dark Eldar as mercenaries, who will often (if not always) betray their employers as soon as the job is done. A bit of a subversion, since the idiots don't tend to die, but get go to meet Haemonculi...
- Too Kinky to Torture: Dark Eldar draw vitality from pain, anyone's pain, and even their own if it comes to it. The only ones who know enough torture-craft and Dark Eldar psychology to make the torture effective are their own Haemonculi. If anyone else tries it on a Dark Eldar, the Dark Eldar will probably laugh at their crude methods and sloppy techniques.
- Torture Technician: Haemonculi. They don't even want information, they just want you to suffer. In one case an unfortunate captive was left as a collection of organs hanging from hooks in the Haemonculus' lab...and still very much alive.
- The Unfavorite: The Dark Eldar went for over a decade without a new Codex. They're finally getting some love again, with new models and a new codex being released in November 2010.
- It got so bad that there was a minor Advice Dog meme in the fandom trying to put a positive spin on the whole thing: "Play Dark Eldar/Safe from Updates."
- The Unfettered: To the Dark Eldar, power is the only prize worth taking and holding onto, and the Dark City tends to quickly weed out anyone with any compunctions that might interfere in reaching for that power.
- Unobtainium: Their "Dark Light" technology fires munition somehow siphoned from the alternate dimensions on the other side of black holes. No one in other factions are sure how the Dark Eldar even can get the stuff.
- Vice City: Commorragh, a Wretched Hive full of slave pens, torture labs, arenas for death sports, and whatever structures are appropriate for the Dark Eldar's other, worse vices.
- Weakened By Realspace: Commorragh exists wholly within the Webway at the intersection of several nodes (hence its Alien Geometries) and the reason the Dark Eldar live there is because the Webway protects them from the predations of She Who Thirsts. Their vitality saps more quickly in realspace because their souls are more exposed. This in turn informs much of their military doctrine, which focuses on lightning-quick raids out into realspace and equally quick returns to the Webway, minimizing the danger to themselves. They can exist outside of the Webway for longer periods, but it requires them to feed on pain much more frequently when doing so.
- Wave Motion Gun: Dark Lances, Blasters, Blast Pistols, and Void Lances are extremely powerful weapons that fire degenerate "dark light" mined from other dimensions.
- We Will Wear Armor in the Future: Averted with the exception of the Incubi, who wear powerful and lightweight armor.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Dark Eldar are very good at two things. 1. Keeping their victims alive for a long time. 2. Making them wish for death. Of course, the Dark Eldar are an aversion to this trope, doing everything they can to extend their times before their souls are consumed.
- Wicked Cultured: Dark Eldar conduct themselves with all the sophistication expected out of Eldar, but extra helpings of pain and evil.
- Winged Humanoid: The Scourges are normal Dark Eldar who have their bodies altered to give them wings and flight capability, including painful bone hollowing procedures. While it may seem like a long and painful process to go through just to become a messenger pigeon, Scourges act as couriers for the kabals and are highly prized. They cannot be killed without facing the retribution of every kabal around, and they are given access to some of the best weaponry and armor the Dark Eldar have.
- Woman Scorned: Lady Aurelia Malys, the former consort of Asdrubael Vect, who banished her to the Webway for being too much of a distraction. Except that while in the Webway, she may have killed a God and replaced her heart with its own, and is now Archon of the Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue, which rivals the Kabal of the Black Heart in terms of power. Not one of Vect's better moves.
- Wound That Will Not Heal: Those few who survive torture by Dark Eldar are left in constant pain from the tortures they received. "No one escapes the Dark City".
Stay classy, followers of Cegorach.
The parade. Oh, the silent but laughing. A fluttering thing. See His cloak of stars and night. This trickster, this endless jester. The Bringer of Night, fooled, diverted, mesmerized, overcome. Laugh with the Laughing God, outplay the great enemy, the great Ymgir-Star-Hungry. And his ancient horde, his data-trove, guarded by dancing shadows. The Library held in ice. We laugh beyond mirth. The punchline is a blade."
The Harlequins are the devotees of Cegorach, the Laughing God, who wander the galaxy as performers and warriors, recounting the traditional Eldar myths and history, as well as the story of the Fall. They also guard the secretive Black Library in the Webway, the largest collection of Eldar history and Chaos lore in the galaxy. They are fanatical enemies of Chaos, and their ultimate goal, their "Great Work", is the re-unification of the Eldar and destruction of Slaanesh. Not playable as a separate faction, but available as an elite unit for both Craftworld and Dark Eldar forces.
Notable Harlequin tropes include:
"Give us your riches, surrender, and no one has to be murdered."
Their culture resembles the original Eldar closest of any other. Forming small nomadic bands, they're not regimented or fallen into decadence, they just do what they can to survive. Now a playable race, and just like the other Eldar armies, have their own unique units (albeit from Forge World).
Notable Corsair tropes include:
- Animal Theme Naming: Hornets & Wasps
- Elaborate Space Base
- Landmarking the Hidden Base: Averted. Hidden bases are the preferred choice.
- Multinational Team: Corsairs can come from a variety of origins. Many are outcasts from the craftworlds, but there are also exiles (voluntary or otherwise) from Commorragh and Exodites who decided that they would not be content living in their subsistence-level homes.
- Private Military Contractors: Several outcast fleets take contracts to raid particular parties as privateers, or hit particular targets. Especially for ambitious individuals in the Imperium who had the wealth to spend, as they make excellent deniable assets.
- Rule of Cool
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: If you are willing to buy the dedicated units from Forgeworld. Walkers as Troops? Yes. Heavy Support and Fast Attack units as Dedicated Transports? Yes!
- Space Pirates: A common vocation for outcast fleets. Not all of them choose piracy, but piracy can get them some of the luxuries that they would normally miss for being off a craftworld.
Eldar that left before their race's fall to settle on the Maiden Worlds of the Milky Way's periphery. They abandoned much advanced technology to live simpler lives among primitive worlds. Not a playable faction in-game, but described as maintaining trade contact with their Craftworld brethren, exchanging food for technology. Eldar who leave the Craftworlds on the Path of the Outcast often end up living in Exodite communities.
Notable Exodite tropes include:
- The Atoner/Defector from Decadence: They're descended from the Eldar who realized the horrible depravity of their pre-Fall civilization, and left to live new, spartan lives on the Maiden Worlds on the far-flung borders of their interstellar empire.
- Badass Native
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The original groups who left to colonize the furthest rim worlds who would become the Exodites brought with them a variety of large, dinosaur-like creatures they call dragons. The Exodites use them as both beasts of burden and Beasts Of Battle. Their best-known warriors are the Dragon Knights, bands of warriors who ride smaller dragons as cavalry and wield laser-lances.
- Expy: They're Warhammer Fantasy's Wood Elves, IN SPACE!!!
- Hidden Elf Village
- Genius Loci: Exodite Maiden Worlds are outright stated to be sentient, due to The Lifestream.
- The Lifestream: The "Planet Spirits" of the Exodites are directly equivalent to the Infinity Circuits of the Craftworlds, being a repository for the spirits of their dead. The Planet Spirit grows thin crystalline tendrils through the crust of the planet, encompassing the entire world. In this regard, it is larger with more total psychic power than the Infinity Circuit of a Craftworld. However, because of this size that power is much more dispersed and thus less able to be guided and harnessed by living Eldar into purpose.
- This is why Exodite Maiden Worlds are so tough to invade. Any hostile troops land on the surface and the entire planet turns from a verdant paradise to a Death World. Luckily, the Imperium has a solution to this.
- Redemption Earns Life: When the Fall happened and the Eldar empire was obliterated, the Maiden Worlds escaped the cataclysm and were left miraculously untouched.
- Schizo Tech: They only forbid technology that eases their way of life, not military hardware with which to defend themselves. However, lacking the industrial base of other powers means that most of their military hardware has to be imported, usually from craftworlds, which means they have less of it to go around. This results in things like one of their most iconic units being lizard-riding cavalry clad in chainmail and armed with lances that shoot high powered (though short ranged) laser beams.
- Space Amish: The Exodites choose to forgo the technological conveniences that enabled the decadent lifestyle that led to Slaanesh's creation and which are typically seen in Craftworld society. They are considered to be somewhat backward, but otherwise decent people by the Craftworld Eldar, and are frequently visited by Outcasts from the path. Webway trade between them and the Craftworlds is also common, which means that when situations become dire Exodites will still field advanced Eldar weaponry. It is by choice that they live more simply otherwise.
- A lot of Eldar didn't survive The Fall, some in the form of Spirit/Soul Stones that may be collected. Including an entire Aspect along with its Phoenix Lord, who were stuck in ice, known as the Shadow Spectres.
- Rogue Trader gives a rare example of an entire Craftworld which was consumed by Chaos: Lu'Nasad. Three "Aspect Shells" were formed from ruined Aspect Shrines, spitting out undead Dire Avengers, Warp Spiders, and Wraithguard.
- Another Craftworld is Kher-Ys, whose Avatar was corrupted by Slaanesh.
- Malan'tai was an entire Craftworld that got eaten by the Tyranid Zoanthrope now known as the Doom of Malan'tai
Playable characters for each faction:
He who sees his own doom can better avoid its path. He who sees the doom of others can deliver it.
High Farseer of Craftworld Ulthwé. Perhaps the most gifted psyker among the Eldar, his foresight saved many thousands of Eldar lives, and his resilience and power have been a rallying point for the declining race. He created the Staff of Ulthamar, and carries it into battle. He went missing after the 13th Black Crusade, and is presumed dead, although the truth is unknown.
- Badass Grandpa: Was ten thousand years old at the time of his death in the 13th Black Crusade, and one of the few living people to have personally met the Emperor. He also beat Abaddon in a duel.
- Badass Long Robe
- Cassandra Truth: He tried to warn the Emperor about Horus. Keyword: tried.
- The Chessmaster: It was he who manipulated the rise of Ork Warboss Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, who went on to wage war against the planet of Armageddon. Though millions of humans and Orks died in the resulting war, the Eldar of Craftworld Idrahae were saved.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Supposedly, at the end of the 13th Black Crusade. He tried to commandeer a Blackstone Fortress, and in doing so saved Cadia from certain destruction, but his soul was consumed by Slaanesh.
- Magic Staff: The Staff of Ulthamar. Not only is it a formidable weapon, it contains the soulstones of Ulthwe's first Seer Council, giving Eldrad a link to Ulthwe's Infinity Circuit and thus nigh-unlimited fuel for his psychic powers.
- Not Quite Dead: Implied by Q'sandria, one of his former pupils. Whether this is true or not has not been revealed.
- Psychic Powers: He's a master at killing you with his brain. To give you an idea: in the run-up to the 13th Black Crusade, Eldrad met with Ursakar E. Creed. To even the odds, Creed brought a large number of sanctioned psykers with him. Every sanctioned psyker was floored by the sheer amount of power radiating from Eldrad.
We may have won the battle, but our ancestors have lost their souls.
Yriel was once High Admiral of Craftworld Iyanden's fleets. Young, arrogant and headstrong, he was also a brilliant commander. In one rash action, he ordered the entire fleet on a pre-emptive strike against a Chaos fleet, leaving the Craftworld undefended. True enough, a cyclonic torpedo got through and hit the craftworld, extinguishing hundreds of thousands of Eldar lives in an instant. Reprimanded for his actions, Yriel went into self-imposed exile, and founded the Eldritch Raiders Corsair fleet. When Iyanden was hit by Hive Fleet Kraken, he and his pirates aided the beleaguered craftworld. Yriel took up the legendary Spear of Twilight to kill the leader of the fleet, saving the Craftworld. Yriel was restored to his post as Autarch, but the spear is now bound to him and slowly sucking out his life force.
- Artifact of Death: The Spear of Twilight inevitably burns out its bearer's soul. Yriel almost succumbed to it, but was mysteriously rejuvenated. He regularly uses a personal forcefield which dampens the spear's effect on him.
- Big Damn Heroes: In his backstory.
- Blade on a Stick: The Spear of Twilight, an weapon of such incredible power that it had to be contained in a stasis field in the Shrine of Ulthanash.
- Cool Starship: His personal ship, the Flame of Asuryan.
- Eye Beam: The Eye of Wrath, a device Yriel wears over his left eye which can unleash a powerful lightning attack.
- Fatal Flaw: His pride.
- Four-Star Badass: As an Autarch.
- Heroic Bastard: He's a bastard son of a princess of the House of Ulthanash. Tons of rumors in universe abound as to his father, with one of the most controversial being that his father was a Dark Eldar.
- Insufferable Genius: He's very stuck-up, but he's also a brilliant commander and warrior.
- Military Maverick: Notably, he holds the title of Autarch despite having no experience in the Path of the Warrior.
- Screw This Im Out Of Here: His reaction to being stripped of his rank of Autarch? Leaving Iyanden and forming a Corsair fleet.
- Undying Loyalty: Receives this from his subordinates. When Yriel left, many of his men joined the Eldritch Raiders with him.
Illic Nightspear has wandered the Path of the Outcast for thousands of years, seeking unknown regions of the Galaxy. Over the centuries, Illic's knowledge has benefited Alaitoc and its brother Craftworlds greatly, having guided many Eldar warhosts through the paths of the Webway to do battle on faraway worlds and arriving to turn the tide of battle. In addition, his skill and accuracy with a Ranger Longrifle is unparalleled and many an Ork Warboss, Necron Overlord, Chaos Champion, and Imperial Guard General have met their end at his gaze.
- Bash Brothers/Enemy Mine: With Kor'sarro Khan of the White Scars, during their escape from Necron captivity.
- Cold Sniper: Illic is without peer in this function, and high-ranking figures in multiple armies have fallen to his Ranger longrifle.
- Enigmatic Minion: It's rumoured that he's following some hidden agenda to delay the Rhana Dandra.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: In-game, every shot he fires is a Precision Shot, so you get to choose which model dies when he shoots something.
- The Red Baron/I Have Many Names: Illic has many different titles, depending on which Ranger band is talking about him. Among them are the Sentinel of the Stars, the Wayforger, and the Shield of Alaitoc.
- Walking the Galaxy: Illic has traveled all over the galaxy, assisting Eldar armies wherever his gun is needed.
The Phoenix Lords are the founders of the Aspect Warriors, the specialists of the Eldar Army. Each Phoenix Lord is an Exarch, a priest of Kaela Mensha Khaine, the Eldar God of War and Murder, and each one represents a different aspect of Khaine, which translates into different battlefield specialism. As of the 41st Millennium, the Phoenix Lords are no longer alive, but their souls are stored within their Phoenix Armour. If an Exarch should touch the Phoenix Armour, their soul will be absorbed and allow the Phoenix Lord to be reborn.
- Badass Grandpa: Every single Phoenix Lord dates to the Fall of the Eldar.
- Badass Preacher: They're essentially Priests of Khaine.
- Bling of War: Phoenix Armour is much more ornate and advanced than regular Aspect Armour.
- Energy Being: Phoenix Lords are no longer physical beings. In Path of the Warrior, when Morlianith-Korlandirl looks at Karandras' corpse, he sees no blood or organs, despite a cut down the center of his armour. When Karandras is resurrected after Morlianith-Korlandirl merges with him, the armour just seals up.
- Five-Man Band:
- The Hero: Asurmen, as the founder and teacher of the Phoenix Lords.
- The Lancer: Jain Zar, as Asurmen's first student.
- The Big Guy: Maugan Ra and Fuegan, who emphasize heavy firepower and unyielding resolve.
- The Smart Guy: Baharroth, who emphasizes careful tracking of the enemy.
- Sixth Ranger: Karandras, Who is not one of Asurmen's original students, but the finest student of Arhra, the original Phoenix Lord of the Striking Scorpions.
- Soul Jar: If a Phoenix Lord is killed, their soul will lie dormant in their armor. When a new Eldar takes up the armour, the soul of the Phoenix Lord will merge with the new Eldar's and essentially overwrite it.
The first and greatest of the Phoenix Lords. Asurmen, the Hand of the Asuryan, created the Path of the Warrior, and founded the Dire Avengers Aspect Shrine. His original students, the Asurya, would go on to become the other Phoenix Lords.
- Badass Grandpa: Even more than the other Phoenix Lords, as he led the Craftworlds away from the Eye of Terror after The Fall.
- Bling of War: Asurmen's armor and enormous helm are brightly plumed and decorated.
- Dual Wielding: Asurmen has a shuriken catapult mounted in each of his gauntlets.
- Empathic Weapon: His Diresword, known as the Sword of Asur contains the soul of his brother, Tethesis, who was slain by a Daemon.
- The Hero: For the Five-Man Band of the Phoenix Lords.
- Knight Errant: Asurmen is a teaching variant, as he has traveled to many craftworlds teaching the ways of war.
- Walking the Galaxy: Asurmen has traveled all over the galaxy, both as a teacher and a warrior.
The favourite student of Asurmen, Jain Zar, the Storm of Silence, is the Phoenix Lord of the Howling Banshees.
- Action Girl: She will jump into battle without hesitation, as is to be expected of a Phoenix Lord, and will lead armies of Howling Banshees.
- Blade on a Stick: Zhai MorennTranslation , a light polearm with an incredibly sharp blade.
- The Lancer
- Lightning Bruiser: Even compared to other Eldar. When she faced the Night Lords in Void Stalker, the Night Lords thought at first it was rain. They entered a state as close as an Astartes can get when they realized it her feet hitting the ground from running.
- Magnetic Hero: She has often assembled Howling Banshees from multiple Craftworlds in the call to war.
- Precision-Guided Boomerang: Jainas MorTranslation , a warp-forged three-bladed throwing weapon.
- Screaming Warrior: Her Banshee Mask's psychosonic power is even more effective than that of the Howling Banshees' Masks.
- Terror Hero: Anyone who can make the Night Lords crap themselves deserves this title.
- Walking the Galaxy: She does a lot of wandering, even for a Phoenix Lord. She even travels between Howling Banshee shrines on different craftworlds, to teach her warrior ways.
The youngest and finest of Asurmen's students, Baharroth, the Cry of the Wind, is the Phoenix Lord of the Swooping Hawks.
- Blinded by the Light: His special ability allows his deep strike to do this, causing all enemies nearby to take an Initiative test or go blind.
- The Chick/The Smart Guy: Fits both.
- Death from Above: Like the Swooping Hawks he created and trains, Baharroth's specialty is swift airborne attacks.
- It's Personal: He really hates the Forces of Chaos because they destroyed much of his home craftworld, Anaen.
- Sword and Gun: Baharroth typically wields a lasblaster and power sword in battle.
The Shadow Hunter, the Phoenix Lord of the Striking Scorpions.
The Burning Lance, Phoenix Lord of the Fire Dragons.
- An Axe to Grind: As well as his Fire Pike, he also carries a burning axe that lets him fight like a monstrous creature in close combat.
- Badass: Curbstomps Greater Daemons. It's also said that during the Rhana Dandra, he will be the very last of the Phoenix Lords to die.
- The Big Guy: Shares this with Maugan Ra.
- Determinator: When Arhra betrayed the Phoenix Lords and lead the attack on Asur, Fuegan refused to retreat. He was feared dead for some time after that.
- Kill It with Fire
War is my master; Death my mistress.
The Harvester of Souls, the Phoenix Lord of the Dark Reapers.
- BADASS: Even among the Phoenix Lords. He once took on an entire Hive Fleet by himself, including a Biotitan, and won.
- BFG: The Mautegar, a custom shuriken cannon.
- The Big Guy: Shares this with Fuegan.
- The Grim Reaper: His aesthetic.
- Like a Badass out of Hell/To Hell and Back: He went into the Eye of Terror and rescued Altansar, his home craftworld. Many Eldar question whether they may have made some sort of pact with the Chaos Gods to avoid being consumed, but never while Maugan Ra is present, mostly to avoid repercussions.
- Shoot The Builder: He apparently did this to the Bonesinger who made his Maugetar.
- Sinister Scythe: His Maugetar has a blade on the end of the barrel that curves downward.
The once lost, now found Phoenix Lord of the Shadow Spectres.
- Disintegrator Ray: His Prism Rifle is basically a scaled-down version of the weapon found on a Fire Prism.
- Put on a Bus/Bus Crash: After founding the Shadow Spectres Aspect on Craftworld Mymeara, he went with a vast war host to an obscure ice world, Bethelmae, to eliminate a mysterious race that would one day rise to threaten the Eldar. He and the war host were never seen again.
- The Bus Came Back: His armour was found on the ice world of Betalis III. After an Eldar assault successfully retrieved the armour, Irillyth was reborn.
- The Sixth Ranger
Death is my meat; terror my wine.
Archon of the Black Heart Kabal, the largest Dark Eldar Kabal in existence, and by extension, de facto
ruler of Commorragh and the Dark Eldar race. By his own account, he is old enough to have seen The Fall of the Eldar, and he created Commorragh. By other accounts, Vect started out as a slave in Commorragh, but through deception and manipulation, clawed his way up to his current position.
The crowd hushed at the very sight of her beauty and elegance. Her flesh bared as if to taunt the blade to draw her blood. Her hair loose as if to tempt her adversary to grip it and to strike the death blow. This was the way she liked to perform: so calm, so confident, so cold. The crowd gasped as she brandished her chosen weapons: a flashing of ice-cold silver, the kiss of death. Then the aliens were released into the ring. Not one, nor two, but ten assailants at once. Lelith danced with them, gifting each with a single choice wound. The crowded roared their approval, the entertainment would last long into the bloody evening!
— Lord Sussarkh
The leader of the Wych Cult of Strife and the most renowned Succubus (Wych champion) in Commorragh.
An infamous Mandrake. He lives in a lair on the fringes of Commorragh
Lady Aurelia Malys
Once one of Vect's consorts, he betrayed her and exiled her from Commorragh. She took to the Webway, where... Something
(implied to have been The Laughing God) challenged her to a game of wits and wills, with the loser's heart as the prize. She won. Brand new magical heart in tow - or chest - she's returned to the Dark City with vengeance in mind.
- The Chessmaster: Almost as much as Vect.
- The Dragon
- For the Evulz: She once led her kabal against an Imperial world - that is, she manipulated an Ork WAAAGH to run right into it. As the Imperial Guard and Orks were slaughtering each other left and right, Malys and her bodyguard walked in and pilfered a rare STC that the humans were guarding. The STC, Panacea, would save billions of human lives through the miraculous medical technologies stored within, but instead it lies in Malys' private trophy room, a potent discovery that will forever be kept out of the Imperium's hands. Malys is aware of this and relishes every minute.
- Lady of War: She's described as that sort of Victorian lady who is unflinchingly polite even though she's planning how best to serve your brains on a platter at the next dinner party.
- Manipulative Bitch
- Woman Scorned: That whole episode was not one of Vect's brighter moves.
Duke Traevelliath Sliscus
Sliscus leads a band of Corsairs, the Sky Serpents. Legend has it that he simply got bored of the tiresome political grinds of Commorragh, and stole three kabal flagships before fleeing the city's port.
- Acquired Poison Immunity: He drinks small doses of the poisons he uses to build up a resistance.
- Ax-Crazy/Hair-Trigger Temper: He is infamously unpredictable. At one point, he ordered an entire Hive World's nobility to be butchered because a human envoy mispronounced his name.
- The Casanova: It's implied he's very popular among the (mostly) female Wych cults.
- Dressed to Kill: Described as "amoral, despicable, and impeccably dressed" by Lady Malys.
- Evil Counterpart: To Prince Yriel.
- Memetic Badass: In-universe. He's an absolute legend in Commorragh for that little "stealing three kabal flagships" stunt.
Drazhar, also known as "The Living Sword", was first encountered at the gates of the Great Shrine of the Incubi in Commorragh. After slaughtering the guards who tried to stop him, he challenged the Hierarch to a duel. The duel lasted only a few minutes before Drazhar was left to step over the dead body of the Hierarch and make a small bow
. No-one knows his identity or Incubus shrine of origin, and even though he has killed the Hierarch and everyone who has challenged him since, he has not taken up any rank in the Incubi: he seems to totally lack ambition and exists only to kill.
- The Big Guy
- Enigmatic Minion: No one knows his motivation, except maybe being a Blood Knight.
- Master Swordsman: Fewer more masterful. Though that goes without saying for one who might be a Phoenix Lord.
- Sixth Ranger Traitor: It's implied that he's the fallen Striking Scorpions Phoenix Lord, Ahrha. Sure enough, he has a similar statline to a Phoenix Lord.
- Vertical Mecha Fins: He has a pair of them rising from his back, which is uncommon among Dark Eldar. However, it is very common among Craftworld Eldar...
- The Voiceless: He is silent, his deadliness speaking for itself.
Fetch me another plaything. This one seems to have broken.
Urien Rakarth is the oldest of the Haemonculi, and is a genius in the fields of torture and anatomical flesh-sculpture. Completely insane, he no longer has any care for Commorragh's politics; he wanders around his laboratories, gibbering and laughing to himself and he seeks out more unfortunate victims for his incredibly painful and very often entirely pointless "experiments".
- Body Horror: His spine is twisted and leaves him with a sloping posture. He has multiple limbs, some decaying, some dead, attached to his back. His face is held on with pieces of leathery flesh. He resembles a puppet, his broken body functioning at his commands and moving despite it not being possible in any realistic way.
- Came Back Wrong: And how.
- Deadly Doctor
- Death Seeker: Urien has come back from the dead so many times that he has grown addicted to it. He is constantly seeking out new and interesting ways to die.
- Even Evil Has Standards: It's suggested that even a good number of the Dark Eldar themselves are creeped out by him.
- Evil Genius
- Evil Mentor: He taught Fabius Bile how to be a sick bastard.
- Mad Scientist
- Time Abyss: He's one of the oldest Haemonculi in Commorragh, if not the oldest.
Baron SathonyxDe facto
lord of the Hellions. Originally a noble of the Kabal of the Slashed Eye, he once captured an Eldar Farseer and took her as a prize to Commorragh. However, due to Commorragh's taboo on psykers, he was banished to the underworld. He has started a one-man war against his old kabal, who have placed a bounty on his head to no avail. He has since become a hero among the lowest of Commorragh's denizens. He also has a hidden ace up his sleeve - he has kept the Farseer's bones, which he can use to predict the future if he drops them in a bowl of blood; this is what has made him so elusive to his old kabal.