The Dark Eldar are kindred to the Eldar, an ancient and advanced race of elf-like humanoids. Their armies usually have the advantages of speed and technology , though they are often lacking in resilience and numbers. The Dark Eldar revel in piracy, enslavement and torture, and are sadistic to the extreme. Dark Eldar raiding parties make use of advanced anti-gravity skimmers to launch high speed raids on their enemy whilst still transporting a large number of their warriors. Due to their mastery of the galaxy-spanning inter-dimensional labyrinth known as the Webway, they are extremely mobile, striking from seemingly nowhere with little or no warning, and vanishing with their captives before a significant military reaction can be mobilised by those attempting to defend from the piratical menace that ascended upon them. The Dark Eldar are unique amongst the races in the sense that they do not occupy many planets, but rather one Dark City named Commorragh . Drukhari are mainly pirates, though sometimes are used as mercenaries, if one has the means to track them down and the payment to not just be killed were they stand...or worse...taken as playthings to break and suffer for their new, merciless masters.
Asdrubael Vect is the supreme overlord of the dark city of Commorragh and of the Dark Eldar as a whole. All Cults, Covens and Kabals answer to him from the lowliest warrior to the most esteemed Haemonculus.
The origins of the Drukhari can be found in the Fall of the Eldar, the great cataclysm that nearly destroyed the entire Eldar race. An event so terrible that not only did it kill trillions of Eldar, it breached the gap between real space and the Warp, giving birth to the fourth Chaos God, Slaanesh. To understand the reasons for the Fall, it is necessary to know something of the Eldar mind and soul.
An Eldars' mind is incredibly complex, through training and focus an Aeldari can achieve anything. Extremely intelligent, thier thought processes are much faster than most species (if not every life form) throughout the galaxy. On top of this their senses are extremely sharp, able to perceive incredible levels of detail, with emotions that can be so strong that creatures feelings such as humans, are like pale shadows by comparison. All of this means that an Eldar experiences the universe and all its sensations to a greatly heightened degree. Similarly, an Eldars' soul is much brighter in the Warp than those of "lesser" sentients, making them much more desirable to the denizens that abide there.
Eldar are able to affect the nether-realm much more than most other races. Each can become latent psykers and have the ability to become very powerful with training, the most gifted folllowing the path of the Farseer. But the strength of their souls was one of the causes of their downfall.
Before the Fall, the Aeldari had an immense galaxy-spanning Empire comprising millions of worlds, larger and more powerful than even the Imperium of Man at the height of its power. The Eldar lived in relative peace - barbarian races such as the Orks were kept at easily manageable numbers and never had the strength to threaten their sovereign rule. The humans were not yet virulently xenophobic and did not have a large domain, and the Tyranid Hive Fleets were unknown. The C'tan and their Necron minions, ancient foes of the Eldar, were long ago defeated. Their Masters destroyed, fragmented or imprisoned and their twisted abominations put to slumber upon their Tomb Worlds, most were destroyed...but not all were discovered.
Life on the Eldar Worlds was idyllic, with fantastically sophisticated machines to take care of all labour and manufacturing required, leaving the Aeldari free to indulge in other, more aesthetic pursuits. With all menial work taken care of for them, the Eldar became indolent and decadent. They began to explore more depraved fetishes in the arts of pleasure... delving ever deeper into hedonism. This descent into decadence spanned millennia. Tradition and order disintegrated, as most Eldar focused on the sole pursuit of pleasure, sects called Pleasure Cults were formed, dedicated to achieving the highest levels of physical sensation, and their ceremonies and practices became ever more wild, eventually devolving into violence and sacrifice of their own kind. Some Eldar hated what their race had become and left the homeworlds for the virgin Maiden Worlds, or left on the newly-constructed Craftworlds, leaving the Pleasure Cults to their sedition.
During this time the Eldar had also discovered the Webway and soon mastered it to further their galaxy-spanning civilization. Building realms and outposts within the Webway to act as ports for inter-galactic travel, the city of Commorragh was founded. Seemingly isolated from 'normal space', Commorragh soon became a bastion for pleasure cults and gave access to increasingly sadistic acts that even the already depraved general population viewed as abhorrent.
Meanwhile... something terrible stirred within the Warp. The millennia of Eldar hedonism had made a massive impact in the psychic realm of Chaos. The Eldar way of life was giving shape to a Power of Chaos, which grew and suckled on the erotic depravity the Aeldari had grown accustomed to, getting stronger and more defined until suddenly, it's mind awoke. A scheming, seething, malign intelligence, with an immense and bottomless thirst fueled by lust and emotion, catching his gaze in particular were the souls of the Eldar. This was the birth of Slaanesh.
The process lasted for thousands of years, corresponding to mankind's Age of Strife, although when Slaanesh finally came into being, the results within the universe were apocalyptic and sudden. An almighty psychic shockwave scythed across the galaxy and with it came the immeasurable thirst of a newly awakened God. The souls of almost every Eldar were stripped from them in an instant and devoured by the new-born Slaanesh. There were few survivors, most driven mad, their minds trapped half in the real world and half in the swirling insanity of the Warp. A great rift in reality was created, encompassing the entire Eldar empire, named now as the Eye of Terror.
The denizens of Commorragh , however, were tucked away safely in a pocket of the Webway, protected from Slaanesh and its thirst. Though much of the Webway was in ruin, they had endured and, unlike their Craftworld counterparts, remained unrepentant. Though they discovered Slaanesh was still slowly claiming their souls, the denizens of Commorragh soon discovered that by absorbing the pain and torments of another's soul they could rejuvenate themselves and cheat death. Assuming they could feed regularly, the Eldar of the webway had become physically immune to the passage of time. Soon they began raiding real space in search of captives and slaves to rejuvenate themselves. So it was that the Drukhari were born. A people made up of sadistic murderers who feed upon the anguish of others to prevent the death of their immortal souls and the ever looming fact that if they were to perish, Slaanesh will be waiting...
Drukhari are similar in many ways to the rest of the Eldar race - tall, lithe, humanoids with tapered ears and sharp eyes. However, generations of physical conflict combined with living inside the Dark City has led to a number of distinct variations. The skin of the Dark Eldar is almost translucent, an effect of the lack of sunlight within the pocket dimension Commorragh exists within. The Dark Eldar's strength and reflexes are actually superior to that of their Aeldari cousins - pict-captures of the Evolus Massacre had to be slowed to one-fourth speed in order to follow the movements of individual Kabalites as they slaughtered Imperial civilians. Stories of Dark Eldar dodging shots from lasguns and kicking frag grenades back into the enemy's ranks are common, and within the gladiatorial arenas a single Wych is more than a match for any ten human warriors. Drukhari senses are also sharper, allowing them to see their enemies perfectly well even during pitch darkness, smell the scent of life (or death) from miles away, they can hear the sound of a blade slicing flesh within the midst of a calamitous battle and it is said that they to can taste the soul through the drinking of blood.
However, Dark Eldar psykers are virtually unheard of. The innate psychic abilities common to the Eldar race have suppressed within the Drukhari and the training forgotten. To use any psychic powers would draw the attention of Slaanesh, and is one of the few things expressly forbidden within Commorragh. As such the Dark Eldar focus on the physical, utilising their psychic strength into fierce determination, flowing this energy through their own bodies on undetectable levels to increase muscle acceleration, agility and their senses to levels unmatched by any species known to the galaxy,
Dark Eldar, like most Aeldari kindreds, make use of advanced technology , including anti-gravity devices, dark matter weaponry, nanotechnology and psychic artifacts. However, this technology is manufactured instead of being psychically grown, and while Dark Eldar do make use of psychic devices, they do not use psychic powers themselves, for in order to use their gifts Psykers must channel the chaotic energies of the Warp. Such an act would attract the gaze of She Who Thirsts and invite disaster upon the entire race. As such, the use of the psychic pyrotechnics that are so familiar to their Craftworld kin is one of the few things forbidden in the dark spires of Commorragh.
Over time, Dark Eldar begin to suffer more and more from The Thirst. They develop an all-consuming and ever-increasing need to drink the souls of other beings. It is postulated that the cause of this is the Chaos God Slaanesh, the Great Enemy of the Eldar, who leeches the soul-essence of the Dark Eldar while they still live. Dark Eldar drink souls to stave off this leeching - perhaps by sating the thirst of Slaanesh, or perhaps by replenishing the essence of their own souls with that of the consumed one. Slaanesh will consume the souls of Dark Eldar whole should they die. Dark Eldar are long-lived but not immortal; drinking souls has a rejuvenating effect that reverses ageing, thus Dark Eldar need not fear falling into the clutches of Slaanesh due to death from old age, if they have a constant supply of souls. The usual source of souls is the many captives taken during Dark Eldar raids.
Dark Eldar soon learn to fight with every weapon at their disposal in order to ensure their own survival, primarily against the machinations of their own kind, but also the other major races of the Galaxy whom they raid often for slaves. No distinction is drawn between the genders (except within the female only Wych Cults), for an individual's skill and cunning is far more important to the race than sheer physical traits such as height and gender. Their senses are keen to the point of paranoia, their eyes and long tapered ears always alert to the slightest movement or disturbance that portends betrayal and death. In the Dark City, the unwary rarely survive for long among their treacherous brethren.
While their countless generations of conflict and internecine strife led the Dark Eldar to develop better reaction speeds and greater overall physical strength than the other factions of the Eldar. Their innate psychic abilities of the Dark Eldar have atrophied. To channel the psychic energies of what is essentially Chaos within Commorragh would invite disaster, for the use of Warp energy would draw the attention of Slaanesh, She Who Thirsts, the eternal nemesis of the entire Eldar race. As a result, the use of psychic abilities or sorcery within the Dark City is one of the only activities truly forbidden to the Dark Eldar.
Though it is manufactured rather than psychically grown from the hardened substance of the Warp like the wraithbone implements of the Craftworld Eldar, the Dark Eldar's weaponry is just as technologically advanced as that of their more benevolent counterparts. When it comes to war, the Dark Eldar are veritable artists. their technology refined to the point that some of its effects appear as nothing less than magical to less advanced species like humanity. Their infinite--if infinitely dark--imaginations and sheer skill have led them down a sinister path--their favourite weapons can set every nerve ending afire with pain, darklight beams, whips that bleed acid and eldritch soul-traps. The Dark Eldar are so confident of their own abilities that their lightweight suits of body armour incorporate bladed plates not only for protection, but also to provide them with yet another weapon to inflict pain. The warriors of Commorragh are well-versed in the physiology and anatomies of all the other starfaring races of the galaxy, knowledge that is used to inflict the maximum amount of pain, suffering and death.
Whenever the Dark Eldar emerge from their pocket dimension they revel in their superiority over their prey. They rarely deign to sully their tongues with the primitive languages of the other races, instead using translator technology on the rare occasions that some form of communication is actually necessary. The warrior Kabals strike swiftly and without warning from portals opened within the Labyrinth Dimension of the Webway, or disappear like wraiths when the enemy resistance becomes too difficult to overcome. The strike forces of the Dark Eldar, despite their own treacherous natures, are well-honed machines in combat. Raids are planned meticulously by the Archons and Succubi that lead them and hidden routes through the Webway are opened in readiness for the attack. Only the most capable Dark Eldar warriors are recruited for each incursion into real space, for to fail in such an invasion is to bring one's own entire Kabal that much closer to annihilation in the byzantine politics of Commorragh. Working together ensures that not only is the greatest amount of suffering inflicted upon the forces of real space but also that the greatest number of victims can be taken back to the Dark City. Personal vendettas between warrings clans and factions reignite only after all of the captives have been divided, for above all other things, the Dark Eldar must have fresh souls to keep themselves from the clutches of She Who Thirsts. The Kabals regularly launch fresh piratical raids upon the Galaxy and there is much to be gained for an individual Drukhari for being part of such an effort--the thrill of hunting the lesser creatures of the universe, the chance to personally capture new slaves which adds to their personal wealth and the joy of unbridled destruction for its own sake. Upon the Kabal's triumphant return to Commorragh, thousands of the captives will be traded as currency, put to work in the infernal depths of the weapon shops, rendered down in flesh-troughs or tormented until their deaths, that happy release drawn out for as long as possible so that the Dark Eldar can draw even more psychic sustenance from their suffering.
To the Dark Eldar, the sweet nectar of horror and suffering is as pleasing as the act of murder itself. They relish breaking the bodies of their slaves, but prize even more the process of crushing the mind and the spirit, for nothing is more gratifying to a Dark Eldar than securing true and willing dominion over an individual who formerly resisted them. They drink in every nuance and every inflection of pain until their captives gibber and plead remorselessly for death -- a mercy that the Dark Eldar rarely grant easily or quickly. Dark Eldar, like most Eldar kin, make use of advanced technology, including anti-gravity devices, dark matter weaponry, nanotechnology and psychic artifacts. While Dark Eldar do make use of psychic devices, they do not any longer use psychic powers themselves because of the danger interacting with the Warp brings for those whose souls are desired by Slaanesh. Psykers are treated as playthings in Commorragh, and given the twisted, sadistic nature of the Dark Eldar, this necessarily involves pain and torment for the psyker.
Notable Dark Eldar
- Arhra , the former leader of the Striking Scorpion Aspect Warriors and founder of theIncubi Warrior Caste
- Aestra Khromys , Queen of Splinters, Archon of the Kabal of the Obsidian Rose
- Asdrubael Vect , Supreme Lord of the Kabal of the Black Heart, and overlord of Commorragh
- Aurelia Malys , Leader of the Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue
- Kheradruakh , the Decapitator, Mandrake Champion
- Drazhar , the "Master of Blades", Incubi Champion. Believed by some to be Arhra
- Kaharhaedros , Pirate Prince
- Archon Kesharq, of the Kabal of the Sundered Blade
- Lelith Hesperax , Leader of the Wych Cult of Strife
- No'akei , the Daughter of Pain. Strike force leader on Medusa V
- Baron Sathonyx The Lord Hellion
- "The Duke" Traevelliath Sliscus Commander of the Sky Serpents
- Urien Rakarth , Master Haemonculus
- Vhane Kyharc , Archon of the Black Myriad
- Vraesque , Archon of the Kabal of the Flayed Skull
- El'uriaq , the Tyrant of Shaa-Dom
Nyos Yllithian , Archon of the Kabal of The White Flame
Bellathonis , Master Haemonculus
Kraillach , Archon of the Kabal of the Realm Eternal
Morr , Incubus in Service of the Kabal of the Realm Eternal
Xelian , Archon of the Kabal of the Blades of Desire