"The very stars once lived and died at our command, yet you still dare oppose us?"
The Eldar are Warhammer 40,000
's race of Space Elves
, haughty and sophisticated aliens who were nevertheless laid low by their hubris and forced to cede control of the galaxy to lesser creatures.
Though superficially human, Eldar have Pointed Ears
, are lanky and long-limbed, and move with a speed and grace that others find unnerving. Over their million-year history the Eldar mastered anti-grav engines, devastating energy weapons, and even more wondrous technologies. Their race is inherently psychic, moreso than any other race in the setting. As a result, many Eldar devices are based on psychotropic engineering, while their psykers are among the most potent beings in the galaxy. However, with this mental power comes a mind capable of far greater extremes, passions and obsessions than other species, and this is what doomed the Eldar.
The history of the Eldar is ancient, poorly understood, and didn't survive the downfall of their galactic empire. What little remains is passed down through oral tradition, allegory and song, mutating their history and making it more fanciful with each retelling. All the Eldar know is that they were long, long ago created by an ancient race to combat the Necrons and their C'tan masters, but both their creators and their enemies fell, and the Eldar were left as the dominant force in the galaxy, before mankind had even mastered fire. With no real challenges facing them, the Eldar grew decadent, and began amusing themselves through increasingly extreme acts as they searched for new sensations to savor. Some far-sighted individuals warned of disaster, and many, disgusted by the depravities they had witnessed, fled for the hinterlands of their domain, but it was no use. The psychic energy produced from this millennia-long orgy of debauchery coalesced into a new Chaos God of Excess, Slaanesh, whose birth devoured the souls of much of their race, killed most of their pantheon
, and left the Eye of Terror
as a permanent blight upon the galaxy. In the blink of an eye their empire was completely gutted, and the Eldar found themselves on the brink of extinction, struggling to survive at any cost
Humanity and the Eldar have had a tumultuous relationship, with neither side liking or trusting the other to any appreciable degree and much blood spilled between, although temporary alliances have occurred when circumstances have made them necessary. The Age of Technology saw humans spread across the galaxy in the Eldar's shadow, but the rapidly expanding numbers of human psykers, combined with the psychic feedback in the Warp from the savage hedonism of late Eldar society, created vast storms that made the Warp impossible for humans to traverse. This was a major factor behind the Age of Technology's collapse into the Age of Strife which almost wiped out humanity. Ironically enough, Slaanesh's birth expended a titanic amount of energy in the Warp, calming it enough for human psykers to begin to navigate it, paving the way for the Emperor's Great Crusade and the rise of the Imperium as the Eldar became a fragment of their former power.
In the tabletop game, while the Eldar factions that have their own codices play in very different ways, they are all fast and hard-hitting but are also relatively fragile with weak armor, and playing them well requires more finesse and strategy than more straightforward factions like the Space Marines or Necrons.
More about these inscrutable aliens can be found in The Path of the Eldar
open/close all folders
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 all-consuming spheres of Warp energy.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: As usual for the setting, Eldar swords are described as having monomolecular edges and "micro-crystalline blades."
- The Aesthetics of Technology: Compare the sleek, curved profile of the Falcon grav-tank to the lumbering, smoke-belching war machines of the humans. Craftworld Eldar vehicles look more like armed speedboats than conventional war machines, while Dark Eldar skimmers resemble flying, sharp-edged sailing skiffs.
- Slaanesh, who developed quite a taste for Eldar souls during the Fall and seeks to feast on the survivors. The Eldar refer to hir as She Who Thirsts.
- The Eldar were created by the Old Ones as tools against the Necrons, and in the modern setting they see the Necrons as horrifying abominations by the nature of their very existence, fighting them with the same fervor as they fight Chaos.
- Body to Jewel: Eldar blood crystallizes rather than forming scabs.
- Breast Plate: The Eldar and Dark Eldar kits are the only ones in the game that come with clearly female variant torsos. It helps that their arms and legs work equally well with either gender.
- Cassandra Truth: The Eldar seers warned their people that their decadence would destroy their civilization, and were mostly ignored.
- Casual Interstellar Travel: Thanks to the Webway, an interdimensional Portal Network located between the Warp and realspace, the Eldar avoid the problems associated with Warp travel. This is not to say that the Webway is without its own perils, as sections of it have fallen into disrepair, while the Dark Eldar have built a horrifying civilization within its darkest passages.
- Chaotic Neutral: The in-universe Imperial perception of the Eldar as a whole. It doesn't help that humans have problems telling Eldar corsairs and Dark Eldar pirates apart, but even those who can keep the factions straight note how Eldar of the same Craftworld will aid them in one battle, then go back to killing them in another. The best you can say about the Eldar is that they consistently act in their self-interest.
Commander Abriel Hume: Trust not in their appearance, for the Eldar are as utterly alien to good, honest men as the vile Tyranids and savage Orks. They are capricious and fickle, attacking without cause or warning. There is no understanding them for there is nothing to understand - they are a random force in the universe.
- Combat Aestheticist: The Eldar as a whole boast that other species "know the science of war, but not the art." The Dark Eldar take this further and try to make spectacular, hilarious or daring kills to win kudos.
- Combat Pragmatist: Although it is unquestionable that the skill of Eldar warriors, the sophistication of their technology, and the might of their psykers are all second-to-none, they lack the robust physiology of the Orks, the overwhelming numbers of the Tyranids, and the raw firepower of the Imperium, hence they cannot hope to beat them in straight slug-fests over open ground. The ideal engagement for the Eldar is an attack undertaken completely by surprise, with a great degree of air support and psyker involvement, directed at the enemy's flank or a weak point in their defences. The Eldar warhost crushes their confused and intimidated opponents with overwhelming speed, firepower and ferocity, and then withdraws before the enemy force can consolidate or be reinforced, hopefully with very few to no casualties. Their reliance on guerrilla and asymmetric warfare earns them a reputation among the other races as cowardly and weak, but the Eldar laugh at these naive notions.
- Defector from Decadence: The surviving Eldar are all over the map on this one. The Craftworld Eldar and Exodites rejected their ancestors' decadence for the discipline of The Path or a simpler existence on a Maiden World, respectively. The Dark Eldar avert this by willingly continuing the lifestyle that led to the Fall, only modified enough to save their own souls. Corsairs walk a line between these extremes, and live lavish and hedonistic lives, but not to the extent of the Dark Eldar.
- Do Not Go Gentle: Even the Eldar who believe they are doomed refuse to simply fade away.
- Dungeon Punk: The Eldar have sometimes been described as a Post Cyber Punk-styled take on Dungeon Punk. For an outsider their technology is inherently magical (and contains no metal sans very minor exceptions) and is highly linked to their Psychic Powers. At the same time they are in a heavily cynical setting and always on the verge of destruction but can prevail due to their technology and magic, and they are majorly racist and supremacist.
- Easy Road to Hell: Simply being born is enough to doom the Eldar to Slaanesh. They define themselves by how they try to avoid this fate.
- Eldritch Location: The Eldar's homeworlds still exist within the Eye of Terror, but have been transformed into terrifying Crone Worlds inhabited by all manner of daemonic monstrosities. Still, many ancient Eldar artifacts remain on them (including spirit stones), so Eldar make occasional raids to recover such treasures. Many who survive such expeditions seek the solace of the Infinity Circuit soon afterward.
- Fantastic Racism: Despite the Fall and the resulting destruction of their empire and sundering of their people, the Eldar generally 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), or at worst, a blight to be eradicated. Even the Eldar racial term for humans, "mon-keigh," means "those who are to be exterminated." That being said, apart from the Tau, the Eldar actually have the best relations with humans, which says more about the other races than anything else.
- How racist are the Eldar? The Craftworld Eldar and Dark Eldar, who despise each other, are still considered "Battle Brothers" according to 7th edition's ally matrix, while any other potential allies among the lesser races are "Allies of Convenience" at best.
- Forged by the Gods: Eldar mythology credits the smith god Vaul with the creation of some of their legendary weapons, and their super-heavy vehicles are referred to as "Engines of Vaul."
- Fragile Speedster:
- Even the Eldar's super-heavy vehicles have lighter armor than mainline Imperial battle tanks. On the other hand, even the Eldar's super-heavy vehicles are fast skimmers.
- Eldar infantry are a mix of this and Glass Cannon. Good combat skills, plus Fleet and Battle Focus rules, but low armour and toughness. Guardians and Dire Avengers are almost as reliant on cover saves as Guardsmen.
- Averted with the Wave Serpent Troop Transport, which is the most heavily armored dedicated transport in the game (having armor on par with most heavy walkers and medium tanks). However the MBT derivatives of the wave serpent do not enjoy the heavier armor of their imperial equivalents, being just as easily (or more) destroyed as the stock Wave Serpent.
- Gone Horribly Right: Before the Fall, some Eldar were consciously trying to create a new deity, believing that they would be rewarded with pleasure beyond mortal comprehension. Unfortunately they got Slaanesh, who "rewarded" them by devouring their souls.
- Götterdämmerung: Not only have the Eldar lost most of their deities, they also have their own version of Ragnarok, the Rhana Dandra, which will result in the destruction of both the remaining Eldar and Chaos, as well as the material universe and the Immaterium alike.
- Have You Seen My God?: All but three of the Eldar Gods were wiped out by Slaanesh.
- Cegorach, the Laughing God, managed to evade Slaanesh and currently hides in the Webway, preferring to battle on through trickery and guile.
- As the Eldar's war god, Kaela Mensha Khaine challenged Slaanesh in direct combat, but even he was overcome and shattered into countless pieces, his godly essence cast from the Warp. These shards came to rest in each Craftworld's wraithbone core, and grew into the Avatars of Khaine that occasionally lead the Eldar into battle.
- Isha, the Elder Mother Goddess, was "rescued" from Slaanesh by its rival Nurgle, who was enamored with her. Though Nurgle's prisoner, Isha is able to whisper the cures to Nurgle's countless plagues to mortals, which he tolerates due to his infatuation, and because this lets him find and correct flaws in his "gifts."
- Hidden Elf Village: Eldar settlements in general, and particularly the Exodite worlds, tend to be quite insular and xenophobic (at least towards non-Eldar). An extreme example is Craftworld Dorhai, which considers itself home to the only untainted Eldar in the galaxy and refuses to deal with any others.
- Higher-Tech Species: The setting's main example, at least until the Necrons woke up.
- Holographic Disguise: A variant. Rather than relying on fallible energy fields, many Eldar units, particularly among the Craftworld Eldar or Harlequins, use "holo-fields" to scatter and displace their image, making it near-impossible for the enemy to land a solid hit on them.
- Human Outside, Alien Inside: Though superficially similar to us, the Eldar are most definitely not human. A dissection in Xenology reveals that the Eldar have little to no body fat, "teeth" that are outgrowths of their jawbones, ribs in the shape of fused "wings," durable yet flexible bones in general, intermeshed elastic muscles built for speed and movement, a secondary "ribcage" of bony plates beneath their abdominal muscles, and a brain with multiple lobes. Also, the Magos Biologis speculates that their Pointy Ears are an erogenous zone.
- Humans Through Alien Eyes: At best, the Eldar see humans as repeating the same mistakes that led to the Fall, feeding the Chaos Gods through constant war and death. At worst, humans are vermin breeding in the Eldar's birthright (a position taken by the more extremely anti-human Craftworlds), or livestock to be slaughtered (the general view the Dark Eldar take).
- Lightning Bruiser: The Eldar don't build slow vehicles. Their super-heavy grav-tanks are just as fast as their flying transports, and their Titans move with startling agility and speed. The Revenant even has jump-jets that allow it to leap and bound across the battlefield.
- Living Ship: Eldar vessels, including the massive Craftworlds, are borderline Organic Technology due to their Wraithbone bases. Other vessels are Ghost Ships with no living crew, but are piloted by the spirits of the dead.
- Meaningful Name:
- "Eldar" was J. R. R. Tolkien's word for elves. It also sounds like "elder," a fitting name for an ancient race.
- Isha, goddess of life, health, growth and fertility, who whispers the cures to the diseases that Nurgle tests on her, shares a name with the Japanese word for "doctor" or "physician".
- Muscles Are Meaningless: Eldar look physically frail compared to humans, but are just as strong thanks to their extremely efficient muscles.
- Not Worth Killing: The Imperium's policy towards the Eldar as a whole. While several Craftworlds were destroyed during the Great Crusade, and as recently as 852 M41 the Space Marines of the Invaders chapter were able to besiege and destroy Craftworld Idharae, other attempts to wipe out the Eldar have not gone well. One resulted in the loss of an entire sector fleet, and a reprisal from Alaitoc reduced the Invaders down to three fleet-based companies. The Imperium therefore finds occasional clashes with the Eldar preferable to the losses they would sustain in a proper genocidal campaign against them. As far as many of the higher-ups in the Imperium are concerned, the Eldar are a spent force, and they don't need to expend precious men and material to hasten the Eldar's extinction when it can be better spent on things like Ork invasions and Chaos uprisings. Whether they are right or not is questionable.
- 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 waystone every Craftworld and Exodite Eldar wears on their person is a common example.
- Razor Floss: Monofilament, molecularly thin polymer strands that cut flesh with ridiculous ease and can be effective against even Space Marine armor. Craftworld Eldar have multiple monofilament weapons, such as Warp Spiders' Deathspinners which fire coiled wads as a short-ranged way to puree unarmored enemy troops, while Shadow Weaver artillery platforms and Night Spinner grav-tanks fire clouds of the stuff up to drift down on the enemy. The Harlequins use the Harlequin's Kiss as a close-combat application, while the Dark Eldar have the Shredder, which fires barbed monofilament to entangle and slice.
- Really 700 Years Old: Eldar typically show signs of real aging when they're around a millennia old.
- The Right of a Superior Species: The Eldar are ancient, wise, and most importantly, dying out. Humans are young, idiotic, and there's plenty of them. Therefore, the Eldar see absolutely nothing wrong with using humans as meat-shields, and will betray millions of their human "comrades" the moment it becomes advantageous to do so without a second thought.
- 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.
- Sapient Ship: An Eldar vessel's spirit stones tend to give the ship its own personality.
- 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.
- Solar Sail: Eldar vessels use these for sub-light travel. This makes them tricky to play in Battlefleet Gothic, as you have to keep track of which table edge the sun is shining from, and Eldar ships move at different speeds depending on their angle to it.
- 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: Even Craftworld Eldar are known to turn to piracy, and many of their outcasts form mighty Corsair fleets. The Dark Eldar are basically this on a racial scale, and some of their skimmer transports even have gangplanks for boarding actions.
- 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 they're moving in 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.
- Thanatos Gambit: Ynnead is a nascent Eldar deity growing in the Infinity Circuits of the Craftworlds, and some seers believe that once the last of the Eldar die, their combined spirits will awaken to form a new God of the Dead able to defeat Slaanesh once and for all, and allow the Eldar to be reborn in a better form.
- Time Abyss: Eldar tend to live at least a thousand years, though their lifespan generally correlates with psychic potential and training. Between the arts of the Haemonculi and their vampiric lifestyles the Dark Eldar are functionally immortal, though this is also their curse, as their souls may decay from sheer age.
- Twin Telepathy: Though quite rare, Eldar twins share such a bond that they can sense each other's location, mood, even thoughts, and if one dies the other often fades away as well.
- Uncanny Valley: Deliberately invoked in earlier editions. They looked like humans at a glance, but their gaunt features, lithe frames, pale skin, and unnatural grace made them very creepy looking. This approach is mostly gone in later editions, in favour of making them an Inhumanly Beautiful Race.
- 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: This is certainly how the Imperium refers to them, since every Eldar is born with psychic potential. Unlike the often-unstable human psykers, the Eldar unlock their powers gradually, and build up control and strength in a variety of disciplines, be they artist, healer, wright, or seer. The Dark Eldar subvert this, however, as their psychic potential has atrophied due to a culture that places more emphasis on physical prowess, and because the use of these abilities can attract Slaanesh's attention.
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."
— Astropath D'Reyx, psychic reading of Eldar artifact
During the dark days leading up to the Fall, many Eldar heeded their seers' warnings and fled the debaucheries of the Eldar homeworlds to start new lives on vast, self-sufficient, starfaring cities known as Craftworlds. To avoid falling prey to the dark desires
that ended their empire, they live a strictly regimented and disciplined existence
, focusing their attentions on one "Path" of life at a time, such as scholar or artisan, or as an Aspect Warrior dedicated to one facet of warfare. Many Craftworlds are concerned solely with survival as their race enters its final twilight, but others hope to overcome their decline, defeat Slaanesh
and rebuild the lost Eldar empire, or die trying. There are even whispers of a nascent god of death forming from their souls that will bring doom to Slaanesh and allow the Eldar to be reborn into new and better forms, but as is typical for the Eldar, this rumour is little understood, even by their own kind.
The Craftworld Eldar are guided by prescient Farseers
, who read the skein of fate and manipulate galactic events to the Eldar's advantage. The Craftworlds also hold and sustain the majority of the Eldar population, as well as the remnants of their original culture and industry. As such, these Eldar are among those most commonly encountered by other races. On many occasions Craftworld Eldar have unexpectedly fought alongside the Imperium of Man against common enemies such as Orks
, the Necrons
, or Chaos
. However, these alliances of necessity should not be interpreted as benevolence—the Eldar consider "mon'keigh
" to be little better than beasts, and have just as often waged war against humans, or used them as expendable pawns in schemes that trade billions of human lives to save a handful of Eldar.
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 and countering it with the right combination of units and actions.
Notable Craftworld Eldar tropes include:
As the Eldar empire descended into madness, many of the cults of excess that were taking over society moved their bases of operation into the inter-dimensional Webway
to create private realms of depravity. This shielded them from the psychic backlash of Slaanesh's birth, allowing them to gleefully continue the lifestyle that led to the Fall and flourish in their twisted capital of Commorragh while their Craftworld cousins drifted in the void. Yet as more time passed, these Eldar discovered that their souls were still being drained by Slaanesh, albeit slowly. However, if they found others to suffer in their stead, they could stave off this soul-death for a while longer. Thus were born the Dark Eldar, a race of sadistic murderers who feed upon the agony of their victims.
The entirety of Dark Eldar "civilization" is focused on generating pain and suffering, leading them to undertake frequent raids to acquire captives 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 is as cruel and sadistic as they can manage, and many aspects of their lives are brutally masochistic, as their own pain will suffice when others are unavailable. However, despite the Dark Eldar's immense pride and power, they are slaves to their addiction who exchanged a quick death for something far worse, and the gnawing hunger in their souls forever reminds them that they are but inches from annihilation.
On the tabletop, the Dark Eldar army is best compared to a scalpel—precise and quite dangerous, but fragile. Their soldiers are frail and lightly-armored, and even their vehicles can be brought down by small-arms fire. To compensate, their army is highly mobile, featuring blindingly-fast open-topped skimmer transports to quickly get troops exactly where needed, or run circles around their opponent. Their ranged weapons make a mockery of both enemy armor and monstrous creatures alike, and while they lack the staying power of Orks or Space Marines in protracted combats, the Dark Eldar excel at swift, overwhelming assaults that annihilate the enemy before they can strike back. Even better, some Dark Eldar units grow more powerful as they slay foes, allowing them to seize an advantage to become all but unstoppable. They are easy to play badly, but if used well the Dark Eldar are devastating.Their 7th edition codex
was released in fall 2014.
Notable Dark Eldar tropes include:
- Abstract Eater: Mostly pain and suffering. The Dark Eldar gain quite literal sustenance from absorbing the psychic output of those feelings, and other emotions can be bottled up and used to "season" them for extra flavor.
- 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.
- Amazon Brigade: Subverted with Wyches, despite their name. Males can join their ranks, but tend not to be as successful as the gladiatrices, since they are considered to lack the style and flair of female combatants.
- And I Must Scream: Dark Eldar like to drag out the suffering of their pain-slaves as long as they can, 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.
- Arrogant Pain-Fu Eldar: The Dark Eldar are very, very good at inflicting hurt on others, including on the battlefield, and they know it. This leads them to engage others with every confidence that they will emerge the victor, which can give them one hell of an upset if someone manages to take advantage of their smugness.
- 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.
- 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: Units of this name supply exotic beasts for Wyches to battle in the arena. They have the choice of going to battle accompanied by a hulking Clawed Fiend that grows more savage if wounded, Khymerae drawn from the Empyrean, or flocks of flesh-rending Razorwings.
- 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 are enormous swords with a handgrip on the back of the blade.
- 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 a klaive.
- 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 via piercings. In-game, Dark Eldar have the "Power From Pain" rule that gives the entire army increasing levels of boosts as the game goes on.
- 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: The Dark Eldar can field more female models than any army but the Sisters of Batttle (and indeed can consist of an all-female force), certainly kick a lot of ass, and are certainly dark.
- Dark Chick: The entire race as a whole fits for the more antagonistic factions (Chaos, Orks, Necrons and Tyranids).
- Dark Is Evil: Very much so, yes.
- 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.
- Defector from Decadence: Some Dark Eldar tire of having to constantly guard against their underlings planting a knife in their back while plotting to do the same to their superiors, are driven out by particularly nasty Kabalite politics, or simply grow weary 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. A very rare few are allowed to join a Craftworld.
- 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.
- Empty Piles of Clothing: The end result of being stabbed with a Husk Blade, a sword favored by Archons which evaporates all the moisture from the body and causes the victim to collapse into a pile of dust. This effect is represented in-game by Husk Blades having the Instant Death special rule.
- Evil Counterpart: To the other Eldar, of course, as they embody the worst aspects of the pre-fall Eldar society that the other factions have turned away from.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Many of them, of the "overly twisted" kind. A glaring example is Vect, who ordered a resilient torture victim to be brought before him, offered a glass of fine wine and told a story. When Vect was finished, he had the slave sent back to the torture pits, but not before informing him that the wine he just drank is indigestible to humans and gives them very painful stomach cramps.
- 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/Space Elves: Their darkest and nastiest aspects. 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: The Dark Eldar take this one step further than even the rest of their kin—they not only consider non-Eldar species inferior, but the other Eldar as well. They see themselves as the true scions of the Eldar race and the others as weak and unworthy.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Dark Eldar come across as very Greco-Roman, especially the whole "highly civilised culture filled with hedonistic degenerates" thing. Raiders that look like ancient Triremes, Colosseum battles, several names and terminologies reminiscent of antiquity ("Talos", "Cronos", "Incubus", "Hekatrix", "Haemonculus"), the lot. Also, they stave off an evil god that will destroy them by raiding for captives and sacrificing them in bloody rituals, in order to sate the god and drive it away, which sounds a lot like Aztec Mythology.
- 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 had a few examples of new Dark Eldar artwork, as well as an very meta Easter Egg, a chart detailing Eldar pirate activity showing a ten-year lull, followed by a massive spike. For reference, the Dark Eldar went twelve years between the 3rd and 5th edition codices.
- 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 Craftworld Eldar were so low on troops, they had to use Wraith constructs, taking the souls of the dead out of the Infinity Circuit and putting them into armor, something they viewed as little less than necromancy. The Dark Eldar were so amused by this that they wanted to make sure it continued, so they saved their cousins.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: The entire faction counts, both storyline-wise and in the meta-sense. Also, many of the prominent figures in their society, due to the way it works.
- 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.
- Glass Cannon: They're faster and have devastating weapons, but are even more vulnerable than their Craftworld cousins.
- 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.
- The Hedonist: They take their indulgences to an even greater extent than their ancestors did. Interestingly for the setting, they are not followers of Slannesh, seeing She Who Thirsts as a dread to be placated rather than a patron to be venerated. They escape Slannesh's attention only by shielding themselves by offering the pain and suffering of others in their place.
- 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.
- Loves the Sound of Screaming: They feed on terror, after all.
- Made a Slave: They routinely enslave humans... who usually don't last long. Ciaphas Cain has made a few allusions to the time he was briefly a prisoner on a Dark Eldar slave ship, and though we haven't heard the details yet, the experience obviously still haunts him.
- 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.
- Nitroboost: On the tabletop, the Dark Eldars' Reaver jetbike has a 36" turboboost. For reference, some aircraft can move only 24 inches in a turn!
- 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.
- Open Shirt Taunt: The gladiatorial Wych cults of the Dark Eldar tend to wear skimpy clothing into combat. This serves a triple purpose: to evoke this trope (it is explicitly stated that one purpose of wearing skimpy clothes is to dare their opponents to hit them), to provide Fanservice for the crowds, and display their unscarred bodies as testament to their combat prowess. The higher up in the rankings you go, the less clothing you typically wear.
- 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.
- Although for people who don't like seeing them as vampires, there's the sardonic fan joke that, being a bunch of pseudo-aristocrats with a dark secret, a love of cool boats and cool planes, and a general vulnerability to gunfire, they have more in common with the Kennedys.
- 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: There are two key points on which the Dark Eldar will willingly (albeit temporarily) set aside their backstabbing ways.
- The first are realspace raids—since the whole kabal's success depends on the mission, everyone will work together to the best of their ability.
- The second, and the most important, is making sure that psykers are not brought into Commorragh. Psykers can be possessed by daemons, the presence of daemons weakens the walls of the Webway, and parts of the city could then collapse into the void of the Warp, giving Slannesh an opening to enter Commoragh and consume their whole race.
- 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. In-game, the faction has the Combat Drugs special rule which gives a +1 bonus to one attribute determined by a die roll.
- 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.
- Scary Impractical Armor: Most Dark Eldar wear this on the battlefield, but unusually this armor is actually fairly lightweight. The impractical part comes from it being completely covering but so thin as to be almost useless at stopping all but the lightest attacks, and all the blades and spikes adorning it would be dangerous to the motions of a wearer who was not so used to moving in them as to avoid slicing themselves open. But then, the armor is scary, and knowing the Dark Eldar, that is kind of the point.
- Shadow Walker: Mandrakes are capable of this by living in an alternate dimension and appearing in people's shadows, in addition to being near-invisible.
- Shoot the Messenger: Averted. Scourges are considered such useful couriers that the kabals come down hard on anyone who interferes with them.
- 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.
- 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, leading to a minor Advice Dog meme in the fandom trying to put a positive spin on the whole thing: "Play Dark Eldar/Safe from Updates." But when they did finally get their update, it was considered one of the best in the game's history.
- 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.
- Uterine Replicator: Most Dark Eldar are grown in amniotic tubes, while having 'trueborn' children is a luxury only afforded to the upper class. This, plus the aforementioned ability to resurrect the dead, is why the Dark Eldar are implied to be thriving.
- Vapor Wear: Wyches practically wear anti-clothing. In the background, it's said they wear so little clothing as a sign of contempt for their opponents, essentially saying "You can't hit me, so I don't even need armor."
- 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.
- Weapon for Intimidation: Dark Eldar weapons are both effective and extraordinarily painful, and their designers like to ensure that those who see the weapons know it. The additional fear such visibly imposing weaponry provides psychically emboldens and invigorates their wielders, making this entirely justified.
- 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.
- 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".
"Death and Fate have taken the stage."
"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."
— Astropath D'Reyx
The Harlequins are the devotees of Cegorach, the Laughing God, one of the very few Eldar deities to survive the birth of Slaanesh. They are the most mysterious and inscrutable of their kin, performers who make no distinction between art and war. The Harlequins are the masters of the Webway, and the guardians of the great collection of Eldar history and Chaos lore secreted within it, the fabled Black Library. They wander - or are perhaps guided - to where they are needed, at times giving performances of traditional Eldar myths and history, on other occasions joining their kin on the battlefield to apply their acrobatics in a different way. At home both on Craftworlds and in Commorragh, the Harlequins' "Great Work" is the re-unification of the Eldar and the destruction of Slaanesh.
Though seemingly fragile, the Harlequins' wargear and unique psyker abilities render them difficult to target, they can navigate difficult terrain with ease, and their weapons make them lethal at both range and in close combat.
Unofficial rules in the past gave the Harlequins their own (if truncated) army list, and the 6th edition Eldar codex featured them as an Elites choice. In 2015 the Harlequins received their own codex and updated model range, making them a stand-alone army (in much the same way that the Inquisition split off from the Grey Knights).
Notable Harlequin tropes include:
Not all Eldar who abandoned the decadence of their empire did so on Craftworlds. Others, the so-called Exodites, fled to the galactic east, purposefully settling on the most rugged and primeval planets on the galaxy's periphery. While some sneered at these dour survivalists, the Exodites' distance from the heart of the Eldar civilization spared them from Slaanesh's birth scream, and in the millennia since the Fall the Exodites have survived and adapted while others of their kin have failed.
The Exodites have exchanged some of their race's advanced technology for a comparatively primitive existence of physical labor and simplicity. Most of their worlds boast populations of Megadons, so that many Exodites live a tribal, nomadic existence following these saurian herds. They retain close ties with their kin on the Craftworlds, and often entertain Harlequin troupes or welcome Outcasts from Craftworld society. Some Eldar, particularly those of Craftworld Biel-Tan, see in these Exodite Worlds the seeds of a new Eldar empire, but any Craftworld is quick to come to the aid of Exodites under attack by an alien race.
Despite their importance to the Eldar, the Exodites have not have rules in Warhammer 40,000
since a single Eldar unit choice in Second Edition, and have never had dedicated models. They did however supply Eldar Knights for the large-scale Epic 40,000 Gaiden Game
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.
"The young do not desire the discipline of the Path, but rather their curiosity drives them to try every fruit from the tree. Thus it is that so many take the Path of Wandering or the Path of Damnation in their first years of adulthood, and so the great tragedy of our race is played out again and again as the number of our people shrink from generation to generation."
— Kysaduras the Anchorite, Introspections Upon Perfection
Some Eldar, particularly the young, do not fit into the aforementioned categories. They chafe under the Path of the Craftworlds and wish to think freely, experience the full range of emotions, or just be themselves
rather than a particular vocation. Others fall prey to wanderlust and tire of their existence on an Exodite world, yearning for the freedom of open space. Such Eldar leave their old lives behind to walk the Path of the Outcast, exploring the galaxy alone or in small bands.
Two varieties of Outcast are particularly noteworthy, Rangers and Corsairs. Rangers remain loyal to their Craftworld of origin and serve as its eyes and ears, executing missions on behalf of its Seers, or simply supplying intelligence gathered during their wanderings. When war calls, squads of Rangers will support their brothers as snipers, picking off the enemy's leaders and hampering their movements for weeks before the battle is joined. The wildest Outcasts take to the stars, forming Corsair fleets that plunder alien worlds and vessels, or hire themselves out as mercenaries. These Eldar resemble those of the ancient empire the most closely, as the life of a pirate allows the amoral and wild character of the Eldar to surface fully, but many retain ties to their homes and are quick to provide aid to Craftworlds or Exodite planets.
Some Outcasts eventually exorcise their wanderlust and return to their homeworld, and take up the Path once more. Others become enamored of their new existence and remain willing exiles, join Harlequin troupes, or fall from grace entirely and seek out the dark city of Commorragh. Many die alone under distant stars, victims of the same self-destructive impulses that destroyed the Eldar empire.
In the tabletop game, Rangers are a Troops choice in the Craftworld Eldar codex. Corsairs are Battle Brothers for all Eldar factions, but their materials are exclusive to Forge World—two conversion kits for standard Guardian models, vehicle models such as the Warp Assault Walker and Hornet flyer, and an army list in Imperial Armor Volume 11
Notable Outcast tropes include:
- A Day in the Limelight: As a space-based faction, the Corsairs didn't have much of a tabletop presence, until Forge World introduced an army list and a few unique conversion kits for them.
- Animal Theme Naming: Hornets & Wasps
- Dungeon Bypass: While craftworld-based Eldar use the D-Cannon as a light anti-tank weapon, Corsairs are known to use it in boarding actions where they have theirs specially tuned for careful short-range work. Its Sphere of Destruction can be used to cut perfectly round holes in bulkheads and allow them to bypass defensive strong points where attrition combat would work against them.
- Elaborate Space Base
- The Exile: A self-inflicted example.
- Forbidden Fruit: Part of what makes the Path of the Outcast so attractive to young Eldar, and former Outcasts to disruptive if they return to the Craftworld to tell stories of the wonders they encountered in their travels.
- Journey to Find Oneself: A common motivation for Outcasts from the craftworlds.
- Invisibility Cloak: Rangers wear chameleoline cloaks adapted from the Exodites, which help them blend in with their surroundings.
- 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.
- Privateer: Several corsairs would qualify, usually being selective about avoiding targets that their home might take exception to pillaging, or hiring themselves out as deniable assets to other powers who want their rivals weakened.
- 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.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: If you are willing to buy the dedicated units from Forge World. Walkers as Troops? Yes. Heavy Support and Fast Attack units as Dedicated Transports? Yes!
- 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.
- 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.
- Walking the Galaxy: Most outcasts go where the winds of fate may take them.
Playable characters for each faction:
Protectors of the Craftworlds
The dying and scattered Eldar race has nevertheless banded around a few particularly impressive individuals:
The Avatar of Khaine
— Battle chant to Khaine the Bloody-Handed God
Eldar tradition holds that Kaela Mensha Khaine, the bloody-handed god of war, battled Slaanesh in the aftermath of the Fall, but was defeated and broken into fragments scattered amongst the Craftworlds. Each Craftworld contains a sealed shrine to Khaine in its heart, and when war nears the battle-lust pulsing through it kindles the burning blood of the deity's iron statue. With an appropriate sacrifice, the Eldar are joined by a fiery Avatar of Khaine, who inspires Eldar warriors with visions of bloodshed and brings flaming ruination to their foes.
- BFS: The Wailing Doom, which sometimes takes the form of a spear or axe.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: In one of the Avatar's many defeats, the Legion of the Damned engaged one. Upon realising that their flaming bolt shells were useless, they opted to instead literally bring down the roof on top of it.
- Flaming Sword: It can even make a short-ranged melta attack.
- Human Sacrifice: In times of dire conflict, an Exarch is designated the "Young King," adorned with a crown of wraithbone thorns, has his naked body painted with runes of blood, and is led into the Avatar's throne room. After several hours of roaring flames and screaming, the awakened Avatar walks out. The optimistic take is that the Exarch's soul becomes one with Khaine, but it's more likely that it's consumed utterly as a sacrifice.
- Lava Adds Awesome: The Avatar's "body" is the solid crust of a bunch of molten iron.
- Legacy Character: Of a sort. Any Craftworld can awaken the Avatar, but there's no example of two fighting at the same time, and while the Avatar can be killed it can always be reawakened later.
- Living Statue: More or less, but one on fire.
- Meaningful Name: The Wailing Doom is named for the terrible sound it makes as it is swung.
- Khaine's 'Kaela Mensha' title was given as an epithet meaning Bloody-Handed after he brutally slew Eldanesh and was cursed to have his hands constantly drip with Eldanesh's blood.
- Not So Different:
- The 5th edition Necron codex gives the C'tan several similarities to the Avatar: broken shards of ancient gods held by their chosen races and awakened for battle in times of great need.
- The Avatar is woken with a process of ritual and blood sacrifice, is made of the stuff of the warp, feeds on and invokes the psychic emotions of those around it, and is affected by force weapons and rebuked by hexagramic wards, much like a Chaos daemon.
- Physical God: The incarnation of a War God.
- Red Right Hand: Its hands constantly drip with gore, said to be the blood of the legendary hero Eldanesh.
- Unstoppable Rage: The Avatar's mere presence renders nearby Eldar fearless with bloodlust.
- Volcanic Veins: White-hot flames are visible in the gaps between its armor.
- The Worf Effect: Holds the dubious honor of being the most Worfed thing in the universe, and an embarrassing number of heroes can put "defeated an Avatar in close combat" on their resumes. The Blood Ravens killed an Avatar four times over the course of the Dawn of War series (though only through the combined efforts of the player's entire army in the case of Dawn of War 1, and four entire teams of crack commandos in Dawn of War 2). Even Maugan Ra has killed one!
- Wreathed in Flames: As a bonus, this renders the Avatar immune to flamer or melta attacks.
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
- Big Good: Eldrad was this for Ulthwe. Maybe he still is.
- Cassandra Truth: He tried to warn the Emperor about Horus, but was ignored. He tried to warn Fulgrim about Slaanesh, but was too late.
- 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.
- Troll: Memetic Mutation cranks this trait Up to Eleven and squarely into this trope, turning Eldrad into a colossal dick who abuses his powers of foresight to humiliate enemy and underling alike.
- 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 it. 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.
- Super Toughness: Farseers Live Longer, gradually turning their bodies to tough crystal as they do so, and Eldrad has lived longer than most. As a result, he has an incredibly high toughness score for a model on foot.
- Time Abyss: He tried to warn the Emperor about Horus and was active during the Horus Heresy ten thousand years ago. At the time of his death, Eldrad looked in his thirties.
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.
- Recently he acuity hurt the Tyranid hivemind itself.
- 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.
- Jerkass: Even by Eldar standards, supposedly.
- 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, I'm 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.
Iyanna Arienal, the Angel of Iyanden
To deny death, and impart her cold kiss to others. That is the way left to us.
Iyanna is perhaps the most gifted Spiritseer of her Craftworld, able to both easily commune with the fallen in the Infinity Circuit and direct Wraithguard units on the battlefield. She is a fervent believer in Ynnead, and hopes that the merger of Eldar souls living and dead will awaken the nascent deity to defeat Slaanesh.
- Demoted to Extra: Although no longer a playable model, Iyanna plays a large role in the 6th edition Iyanden Codex Supplement.
- Blade on a Stick: The Spear of Teuthlas, a superior singing spear.
- Gotta Catch Them All: Currently seeks the Tears of Morai-Heg, gemstones with the power to speed Ynnead's birth.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: She's rarely seen without her bodyguard, a huge Wraithlord which houses the spiritstone of an Exarch.
- Necromancer: And a generally nicer example of one too.
- Orphan's Ordeal: Lost her entire family in an attack by Chaos, hence her interest in connecting with the dead.
- Put on a Bus: Iyanna was removed as a playable model in the 5th edition codex.
Feel the rush of the wind against your skin and hear her keening cry in your ears. Listen to her call well, for are we not the Wild Riders, the children of the storm?
A legendary Wild Rider chief from Saim-Hann, known for both his reckless bravery and martial prowess. He rides Alean
, "the Steed of Khaine," a Vyper converted to allow him to fight from its back like a flying chariot.
- Air Jousting: Perhaps a purer example than the Shining Spears.
- Blade on a Stick: Wields the Celestial Lance, which he most famously drove into the heart of a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: See above.
- Fearless Fool: Has the Reckless rule, allowing him to ignore Crew Shaken or Stunned results on the vehicle damage table. This spreads to any Jetbike squads he joins, making them Fearless as well.
- Put on a Bus: Nuadhu hasn't appeared as a playable model since the 3rd edition codex .
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.
- 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.
- Many Spirits Inside of One: While the spirit of the first Phoenix is always the most dominant, all those who have been absorbed by them have their psychic power and memories added to the gestalt.
- The Red Baron: The Phoenix Lords all have an appropriately badass nickname.
- 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.
- Token Evil Teammate: Ahrha The Father of Scorpions, the only Phoenix Lord to go bad.
- Voice of the Legion: They are described as speaking this way, since they no longer have throats they communicate by the resonance of all the psychic voices of their many spirits.
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 heard a sound that they thought at first was rain. They entered a state as close as an Astartes can get to panic 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. He also once walked into the Eye of Terror alone, and when he came out, he brought a lost craftworld with him!
- 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.
- Terror Hero: When the Harlequins are implied to be afraid of you, you qualify as this.
The Shade of Twilight. 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
The Tempest of Starlight, and the lost Phoenix Lord of the Shining Spears.
- Ancestral Weapon: When he went into exile, he left his weapon, the Celestial Lance, behind, and it has since passed from Craftworld to Craftworld.
- Blade on a Stick: His weapon, the Celestial Lance.
- Badass Biker: Judging by the signature qualities of his Aspect, it's likely that Drastanta was a master of the jetbike.
- My Greatest Failure: He went into exile because of his failure to aid Asurmen.
- Pride: His Fatal Flaw, which led him to engage in over-long battles. Because of it, he was unable to save Asurmen during the Fall.
- Put on a Bus
- Unstoppable Rage: When he discovered the fallen Asurmen, he one-shotted the Keeper of Secrets responsible in his fury.
Denizens of the Dark City
Power changes hands often in Commorragh, but a few special individuals have managed to cling to it:
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.
- Badass Normal: As much of a Badass Normal as the Dark Eldar can field, Imperial Guardsmen have nothing on her. She goes into battle with nothing but a bikini and a pair of knives, and she can take on Terminator Space Marines.
- Collector of the Strange: She apparently takes trophies from her victims when she goes on raids.
- Combat Haircomb: Lelith has blades and hooks woven into the ends of her hair. Rather than removing them and using them, she simply lets her hair's movement do the work for her.
- Dark Action Girl: Down to the athleticism, outfit and sexy voice.
- Dark Chick
- Drugs Are Bad: Her view, at least. She refuses to take combat enhancing drugs, as they take away from the purity of the kill or something.
- Enigmatic Minion: Rarely talks, and simply shows up in an Archon's court before a raid to join them, does her business on the field of battle, and disappears afterward.
- Femme Fatalons: Her fingernails are sharpened to act as weapons.
- Hot Consort: Implied to be this for Vect occasionally.
- Knife Nut
- Memetic Badass: In-universe. Rumours abound to the source of her almost supernatural fighting ability. Some say she has had her blood replaced with a form of hyper-adrenaline, some say she sleeps in a stimulant tank, some suggest that the Haemonculi have had some hand in modifying her body. The truth, however, is that she's just that good.
- Ms. Fanservice: In-universe. She even has rings of perverts dedicated to exchanging videos of her offing her opponents.
- Older Than They Look: She may be smoking hot, but she actually aided Vect in his coup, and was a renowned fighter even then. That tells you just how old she is.
- The Quiet One: She very rarely speaks. However, it is rumoured that her voice is a sultry purr likened to honeyed velvet.
- Stripperific: Her standard combat attire could double as swimwear.
- Token Good Teammate: Some fans view her as this to the Dark Eldar. 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, and who doesn't in this setting?
Kheradruakh, the Decapitator
An infamous Mandrake. He lives in a lair on the fringes of Commorragh. His services can be enlisted by an Archon but the price is exorbitant, even by the selfish, exploitive standards of the Dark Eldar.
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.
- Anti-Magic: One of the benefits her new magical heart gives.
- Bi the Way/Lipstick Lesbian: Implied with her use of Lhameans (an all-female Dark Eldar sect of courtesans/poison experts).
- The Chessmaster: Almost as much as Vect.
- Dark Action Girl: She feels like a particularly cunning Magical Girl anime villain.
- Demoted to Extra: While Lady Malys may no longer be a playable character, she is still active in the fluff and is heavily involved in Commorragh’s most recent history.
- Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?/Unwitting Pawn : Malys beat an mysterious supernatural being in a contest of wits where the loser had to give their heart to the winner. Malys won, to even her own surprise, and got the being's heart. This may have been the being's plan.
- The Dragon: Later Dragon with an Agenda aspiring to be a Dragon Ascendant after she fell out of favour with Vect.
- Evil Laugh: Those of her minions bold enough to eavesdrop on her personal chamber have reported hearing this coming from it when she's alone in there.
- 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
- Put on a Bus: Malys doesn't appear as a playable model in the 7th edition codex.
- 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. He now commands a fleet of corsairs, with the three stolen flagships forming the core of the fleet.
- Acquired Poison Immunity: He drinks small doses of the poisons he uses, and has a little with every meal, to build up a resistance.
- Animal Motif: Invoked and Inverted. Snakes, with his twisted nature and penchant for poisons. The inversion is in-universe: Sliscus is aware of this, insists he is more dangerous than any animal, and has remarked that serpents should be called Sliscus' instead of the other way around.
- 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. He also has teams of concubines.
- Death from Above: His preferred raiding tactic is for Raiders and Ravagers to descend form the sky to attack.
- Dressed to Kill: Described as "amoral, despicable, and impeccably dressed" by Lady Malys. Those outfits also incorporate body parts from his latest victim.
- Evil Counterpart: To Prince Yriel.
- Memetic Badass: In-universe. He's an absolute legend in Commorragh for that little "stealing three kabal flagships" stunt.
- Poisoned Weapons
- Put on a Bus: Sliscus doesn't appear as a playable model in the 7th edition codex.
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 Brute
- Enigmatic Minion: No one knows his motivation, beyond maybe being a Blood Knight. 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.
- 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, and his in-game statline is very similar 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.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: He is the master of the Incubi simply by virtue of having killed the previous master. Unlike a Klingon Promotion, he was never known an Incubus himself, he just appeared one day in Commorragh and made his challenge.
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.
We bring only death, and leave only carrion. It is a message even a human can understand.