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Why are the High Elves dying out?
Of all the races in Warhammer, the High Elves are the least invested in pointless and self destructive behavior, even moreso than the other "good" factions.note  That doesn't even include the "evil" factions where You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, We Have Reserves, and The Social Darwinist, are not only applied but actively enforced. In fact, baring the obvious exceptions like the Skaven and the Orcs, shouldn't the High Elves have one of the highest populations in setting, seeing as they're the most organized and level headed, yet still badass enough to defend their interests?
  • The High Elven population never really recovered from the twin disasters of The Sundering and The War of Vengeance. The Asur also seem to have problems with their fertility and breed too slowly to properly restore their numbers. The Dark Elves, for whatever reason, don't really seem to suffer this problem. Couple these factors with frequent raids and invasions by the Druchii and numerous other antagonistic forces and it's easy to understand how the Asur are diminished. It should be noted however that the exact severity of the High Elf decline is open to interpretation, with Games Workshop themselves basically stating that there are as many elves as the plot demands.
  • It's also worth noting that several sources suggest the Asur have experienced something of a species-wide depression from the state of the world and this is slowing down their already slow breeding rate (which is biologically sensible: a very long lived should reproduce slowly for population control reasons but that stops making sense when they are dying out). Basically a lot of Asur are unwilling to bring a child into this mess and are past caring about the seemingly inevitable decay of their people.
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Are the Dark Elves dwindling alongside the High Elves?
I don't recall reading any lore that indicates that the Druchii are dying out, even though they should be suffering attrition at a far greater pace than the Asur. Aside from the fact that they're pressed up against the Chaos Wastes with hosts of Slanneshi demons knocking at their door, they are so engrossed in self destructive behavior that it's a wonder we even need to fight them at all.
  • Quite the contrary, most lore seems to indicate that the Druchii are doing better than the other elder races in terms of population. The Dark Elf army books all tend to state that the Druchii are thriving in comparison the rest of the elves, which is notable as the army books for the High Elves tend to always emphasize their decline. A single throwaway line in one source book even mentions that a single Dark Elf border fortress had a garrison force of eighty thousand troops. This seemingly ample population would also explain how they are able to afford throwing away lives so casually. Their numbers do tend to fluctuate Depending on the Author but they never seem to be in any danger of dying out like the High Elves are said to be. Why this is the case is anyone's guess.
  • They are technically declining, as all the Elder Races are, losing out to the breeding-like-bunnies humans, but they are doing better than most. Likely this is helped along by their remarkably casual attitude to sex. Plus they'd be more inclined to breed just for the sake of numbers than either of the other two Elven races or the Dwarves (who all tend to actually love their children) and while the Lizardmen breed like that normally they are hamstrung by following the half-understood plans of the Old Ones about when they can reproduce.
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Slaanesh’s claim on Elven Souls.
It’s been established in-game that Slaanesh is the chaos god who has the closest connection to the elves, yet the Asur, Asrai, and Druchii all harbor deep obsessions aligned with the other three gods. High elves are political beasts who are infatuated with intrigue (Tzeentch) the Dark Elves are so in love with violence that they drag caldrons of blood to the battlefield (Khorne) and Nurgle is the God most associated with nature, which is a shoo-in for the Wood Elves. With the exception of a few (very unpopular) Druchii cults, it seems that Slaanesh would lose out to every other god in the elf department. What’s his/her connection to the High/Wood/Dark elf varieties?
  • The elves as a whole feel emotions much more strongly than other races, making them a much better meal for Slaanesh and his... her... it's appetite for souls.
  • Elves in general tend toward a certain hedonism. The Asur and Asrai try to rein it in but they all feel it.
  • While looking through the H.E.'s 8th edition army book, I found this passage;
    Almost every High Elf, from the humblest lowborn to the most esteem Lord, will always reserve a bit of self-satisfaction in his own superiority, especially to what the High Elves consider the "lesser races" of Mankind. This arrogance is in many ways the corrupted heart of High Elven society. Though they may not be afflicted with physical mutations as do those of Mankind, Chaos has nonetheless seeped itself into the heart and soul of the Elven races.
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  • Since pride is the domain of Slaanesh, and given how the Pride Before a Fall trope is one of the Elves's defining characteristics, it's little wonder that the dark prince gets dibbs on their souls in spite of whatever intense predilections they may have (that they experience emotions far more vividly than most other races is also a factor, as noted above).
  • I also question the above connections. Dark Elves are sadists, not berzerkers; they like to cause pain more than they like combat itself like a Khorne worshipper would. High Elves might scheme but most of them do so out of a sense of duty to their people, sincerely believing that they are the best person for the job rather than because it will help them personally. Tzeentch could certainly twist that but it's not inherently his area any more than all politics is. As for the Wood Elves Nurgle represents the corruption, decay and desecration of the natural. As such he is the LAST thing that would tempt them.

The infamous question of Elven unity
Warning; Major spoilers of Warhammer: End Times below.
  • The recent lore claims that the High and Dark elves are separate facets of a greater whole, and the two need to patch up their differences for the greater Elven race to have any hope of surviving. This isn’t just a theory; In the End Times, it turns out that Malkith is the true, legitimate phoenix king (though I have no idea by what criteria), and Teclis of all people goes to great lengths to put his burnt ass on the throne. Since this unity is still holding true in Age Of Sigmar, and that it even carries over into WH40k between the Craftworld and Dark Eldar, it’s safe to assume that Games Workshop is adamant about this theme.note  While I can’t believe that evil of the Druchii’s caliber could ever be necessary, I realize that this is a human perspective. Is there some elvish characteristic regarding their natures or souls that requires them to acknowledge their darker aspects? note  Am I somehow dooming the High Elves by wiping out the Druchii in the main campaign?
    • The Total War: Warhammer(( series is explicitly'' an alternate continuity to the main canon, so the End Times and Age of Sigmar have little to no bearing on it. In that light, no, you wouldn't be dooming any of the Elven races by having them destroy any of the others.
      • Ironicaly, it's hinted that the Dark Elves will be the ones who will doom themselves through victory;
        None consider the possibility that, when the last High Elf dies screaming in agony upon Khaine's altar, that ultimate victory might leave a void of purpose that is impossible to fill. On that day, the Dark Elves will learn just how much of their souls have been devoured by their ancient hatred — and they may not find the tally to their liking.
    • Indeed, the End Times/Age of Sigmar lore is (thankfully) not canon to Total War: Warhammer. They're running off of the lore from before that nonsense, in which the Druchii are a bunch of unrepentant shits the world would be better off without and Malekith is a greedy tyrant who was rightfully rejected by the Phoenix Throne and just can't accept that. The relationship between the High Elves and the Wood Elves is a different matter. The Asrai have become a bit... odd after all that time in Athel Loren but ultimately they are still opposing Chaos and fighting to preserve the world and other stuff the Asur would approve off. While likely too different to reunite at this point the High Elves and Wood Elves might well benefit from more friendly relations.

No global recruitment for Dark Elves?
What gives with that? It made sense with the undead, their troops are mostly mindless or bestial so can't make the journey by themselves, but why can't the Druchii manage?
  • Presumably it's simply a case of gameplay balance, the Dark Elves can already recruit units far from their home provinces through the use of Black Arks, and a good deal faster and cheaper than global recruitment at that.
  • I can see that from a gameplay standpoint but I'm still puzzled as to the in-universe reason.
  • No real in universe reason, there's nothing in the lore that would preclude the Dark Elves from global recruitment. It's simply a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation for the sake of balance. In any event, based on a screenshot, it seems that as of the mortal empires update the Druchii will be getting an encampment stance, and presumably global recruitment as well. At least in the mortal empires campaign.
  • That'd be nice. CA have been so good about using lore so far.

Why would zombies and various undead even want gold and plunder?
Regarding the Vampire Coast; I thought the zombies commanded by vampires were mindless puppets, and that the vampires themselves were motivated solely out of pride, ambition, power, or ideology. Why would an undead monstrosity be so obsessed with loot, treasure, and material gain?
  • Well they were presumably pirates before they became vampires, so one would assume their desire for plunder would carry over into undeath. As for why they need money to raise the dead, it's probably just Gameplay and Story Segregation.

Why are the Dark Elves such jerks?
While the Always Chaotic Evil trope is a time honored tradition in fantastic settings everywhere, Warhammer usually makes an effort to vindicat this.note  Yet the Dark Elves don't seem to have an excuse; their High Elven brethren prove beyond doubt that no elf is obligated to be a sadistic prick. Are they under one of the ancient, malevolent curses endemic to this setting? Is there some quirk in the Elven soul that compels a balance between light and dark?note Or is there an evil Elven deity (*chough*khaelamenshakhaine*cough*) who's egging them on?

  • There are actually many reasons why the Dark Elves are like they are, they didn't simply decide to be evil one day for the sake of being evil. It all started, like most things in Warhammer, with the forces of Chaos. More specifically it began with the death of the Everqueen Astarielle, first wife of Aenarion, at the hands of Chaos forces.
    • You see when Aenarion learned of the death of his wife (and the apparent death of his children) he basically lost it, and in his desire for vengeance he drew the Sword of Khaine, which he believed would allow him to achieve said vengeance. And it did, to an extent at least. The sword granted him the power to drive the Daemons back; but it also corrupted him, filling him with hate and rage. Eventually Aenarion founded the realm of Nagarythe in northern Ulthuan and to his realm flocked those elves who had suffered the depredations of Chaos most intensely. Those who had suffered the loss of home or family, and had nothing left to lose; or to live for, save revenge. Nagarythe became a harsh and brutal realm, where the populace took the brunt of the fighting against further Chaos incursions. Naturally the Naggarothi, knowing their lives were more than likely destined to come to a violent end, began to compensate by indulging in ever more extreme and hedonistic pastimes. Beseeching forbidden gods and such things for example. Basically, they knew they likely didn't have long to live, so they overindulged in life's pleasures when they still could. It's a literal case of "Drink well and eat hearty, for tonight we dine in hell!" Of course it didn't help that Aenarion had married the shadowy Morathi at this point, an individual who fervently encouraged the darker passions of her husband and his followers. Not to mention the curse of Khaine which had consumed Aenarion had a certain effect on his people as well.

    • Once the war had ended and the daemons were banished the Naggarothi didn't quite know how to handle a time of peace; they were warriors first and foremost, and the war with Chaos had given their lives meaning. Not to mention that certain Naggarothi practices, like the open worship of the Cytharai for instance, were not exactly acceptable in the rest of Ulthuan. And here we come to the crux of the matter, there was a major divide between Nagarthye and the other Elvish realms. The Naggarothi harbored no small degree of resentment toward their kin from the other kingdoms, after all it was Nagarythe who stood between Chaos and Ulthuan proper, it was Nagarythe who suffered the most, it was Nagarythe who fought the hardest. In their minds the Naggarothi were the greatest of the elves, their strength forged in the fires of war, and all the other kingdoms should kneel before them in thanks. Of course, that isn't what happened.

    • When the Tiranocii prince Bel Shanaar was chosen as Phoenix King over Malekith, the elves of Nagarythe saw it as an insult to the legacy of Aenarion and to their kingdom as a whole, further increasing the divide between them and the rest of Ulthuan. Of course none were more incensed than Morathi and, privately at least (initially) Malekith. In the years that followed many Naggarothi accompanied Malekith on his campaigns through the old world, both because war was the state of being in which they were most at home and because, like Malekith himself, they despised living under the rule of Bel Shanaar; whom they considered a weakling and a pretender. Meanwhile, back on Ulthuan, Morathi was making it her goal to undermine the authority of the Phoenix King and goad the Naggarothi down ever darker paths. Twisting them even further. When full blown war eventually broke out, it really shouldn't have surprised anyone.

    • The modern day Druchii are a product of all these things, exacerbated further through thousands of years of exile, hate, bitterness and war. It's also important to note that for the most part the Dark Elves consider themselves fully justified in their treatment of others. After all, in their world view, everyone is either a traitor, in the case of the Asur, or lowly vermin fit only to be slaves, in the case of literally everyone else. They have a master race ideology that would but the Nazi's to shame. And, as we know from our own history, people can justify a lot of horrible things simply by not seeing other people as well, people. Of course there is also an intimidation factor involved in all the torture and depravity; slaves are less likely to rebel if they're terrified into submission.

      • Perhaps another contributing factor is that most of the prominent Druchii (and maybe the majority of the population) personally experienced the brunt of the aforementioned catastrophes. note  Several millennia of seeing the worst the world has to offer (especially one as screwed-up as Warhammer's) tends to foster a jaded outlook and thorough disillusionment; another deconstruction of The Ageless trope.

      • The Druchii's crucial role in repelling the demonic invasion also goes a long way in explaining their outlook towards slavery; the wretched mortals wouldn't even exist if the we hand't risked life, limb, and soul to save the world all those years ago. It is only right that they "thank" us for their lives (with their lives, of course).

Is Alith Anar a Dark Elf?
As clarified above, the Asur and Druchii are separated by more than mere politics and ideology, but were sharply divided both culturally and traditionally long before the sundering. Anar was (and still is) a proud Naggarothi, and endured all the same trials and events (short of joining the rebellion) that shaped the Druchii into what they are today.
  • Ethnically speaking there's little to no difference between the Druchii and Alith and his followers, but ultimately their loyalties lie with Ulthuan and thus they can't truly be called Dark Elves. As the term Druchii was originally a disparaging title given to the followers of Malekith and Morathi by the Asur during the Sundering, one would, strictly speaking, need to be a foe of Ulthuan, and loyal to Malekith/Morathi to qualify. So in the end it comes down to loyalty: All Druchii are Naggarothi, but not all Naggarothi are Druchii. As to why some Naggarothi followed Malekith but others didn't, well, there are dissenters in every regime. So at the end of the day, no Alith isn't a Druchii, because he made the choice not to be one, and that final question of choice and loyalty is ultimately what matters. In fact, I imagine Alith himself would be extremely incensed by the very question.

Why would the Council of Thirteen sacrifice Clan Mors/Pestilens?
Grey Seer Vulscreek claims that it was "Council's desire all along" that either Clan Mors or Clan Pestilens are sacrificed to enable the Horned Rat to cross over to the material world, and the fact that they send armies to try and seize the cursed engine seems to back that up. But both clans are on the Council, if nothing else shouldn't their respective leadership have told their subordinates about what was going to happen and how to stop it/redirect it to their advantage out of self-preservation?
  • First, a smaller and less important clan wouldn't make as good a sacrifice. Secondly, Skaven.
    • To clarify, saying that Skaven are treacherous by nature is a bit of an understatement. They're perpetually sabotaging themselves on a macro and micro level, even on the rare occasion where they "band together" to take on the surface world. It's not a stretch to presume that said leaders sold out their entire faction down to the last clanrat in return for becoming an exception to the mass sacrifice.
      • Without a clan, Warlord Gnawdwell and Lord Nurglitch (heads of Mors and Pestilens respectively and members of the Council) would not last a week in their positions of power. Skaven are certainly short-sighted but one doesn't sit in their highest-ranking spot without some foresight and political skill. They have no reason not to spill the beans to their subordinates and tell them how to sacrifice some other clan instead.
      • They also have eleven other council members and their very own god working against them. Whatever their many, many failings, the Shaven are never too proud to know when they've been beaten. As for the leaders themselves, they clawed their way up to the top once before and they could do so again. Heck, Thanquol did exactly that several dozen times throughout the lore due to Gotrek and Felix constantly messing up his plans and earning him the council's unanimous hatred.
      "No matter how low you fell or how hopeless it seemed, there was always one cache left to plunder, one ally left to flatter, one final desperate scheme to throw yourself into." Thanquol and Boneripper: Grey Seer (Novel) by C.L Werner
      • The Horned Rat demonstrably doesn't care who the sacrifice is, just that one occurs. It's positively un-Skaveny of them not to try and spill a rival clan's blood on the bell instead of themselves.
    • Another point is that The Great Horned Rat himself regularly attends council meeting. Sure, treachery is an accepted and even expected part of Skaven society, but their second most iconic trait is cowardice. Betraying the god of all ratmen while he's glaring at you from across the table would take serious chutzpah.
      • What? No he doesn't. His seat is symbolic and always empty, the Grey Seers just get to decide how he votes which by pure coincidence is always the way they do. The whole point of the sacrifice is that the Horned Rat needs an entire clan's worth of souls plus four race's rituals plus the Great Vortex to cross over to the material world.
      • I was under the impression that the Great Horned Rat couldn't physically enter the world, but he could still see and speak into it at any time and place he feels like. He does exactly that to mock a few low ranking lackeys in every campaign surrounding the vortex. And even if he's not paying attention to a particular meeting at that precise moment, are you really going to bet your soul on that? This is a god who gobbles up his loyal followers like popcorn; just imagine what he'd do to someone he hates.
      • Skaven will fight viciously when they have no choice, if the ritual goes off as the Council planned both Gnawdwell and Nurglitch are getting their souls ripped out and devoured with the rest of their clans. They have nothing to lose.
    • If neither of those possibilities satisfy you, then alternatively a) they are trying to spill the beans but the other lords are running interference, or b) they're already dead (it's rare to find a Skaven that isn't an assassin to some degree). Yes, they wouldn't have gained or held their position for very long if they were easy targets, but the bulk of their forces are abroad, every other clan would be lining up to take shots at, and only one attempt needs to be successful.
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