A Kabal is a self-governing socio-economic paramilitary organization. Dark Eldar society is comprised primarily of these Kabals, as well as the Haemonculi Covens , the Incubus sect, and the Wych Cults. These Kabals send out raiding parties through Webway portals in order to collect alien beasts, slaves, and anything else the Kabal may need.
Archons, the leaders of Kabals, have no real code or law structure to restrict their actions, save for the "Eye for an Eye" philosophy shared by Dark Eldar. Because of this, it is equally likely for Kabals to cooperate in order to achieve a common goal as it is for a Kabal to declare war on another for seemingly no reason.
Kabals are the direct result of the pleasures cults that dominated Eldar society prior to the Fall. Originally, they were a gathering of like-minded individuals who all strove to attain the same goal, usually to reach the pinnacle of a sensation, as was the goal of all Eldar, hence the birth of Slaanesh. These pleasure cults, at the lowest point of the Eldar's decline, had devolved into little more than street gangs feuding over the territorial rights to ritually torture or kill civilians. Once the Eldar were all but wiped out, the remainder of these cults found safe haven in the Webway, and each helped build Commorragh in the manner best suited to their beliefs. This further cemented their desires to keep and mark territory, which in turn spurred the creation of a more structured, militant organizational structure in the cult. At this point, they stopped being Pleasure Cults, and developed into the Kabals that exist today. Those that were too young or insular to previously align with a Pleasure Cult formed Kabals of their own, and began claiming their territories as well.
The Kabals became the ruling force in Commorragh after Asdrubael Vect took control of the city, replacing the old aristocracy with Kabalite power. In many ways, the brutal meritocracy of the Kabals resembles Vect's own rise to power. Many of Commorragh's noble families fashioned themselves into Kabals, but they have not forgiven Vect for usurping their power.
Chain of Command
Positions within a Kabal are quite clearly defined, and anyone overstepping their rights as dictated by their position is seen as attempting to overthrow their superior, usually with fatal consequences.
An Archon is the highest ranking member of a Dark Eldar Kabal. They are considered the single most powerful, ruthless, and cunning member of their Kabal, due to the fact that if there existed anyone who held greater ability in these aspects, they would no doubt kill their Archon and claim their title.
Indeed, the singular power they hold over the members of their Kabal make the title incredibly appealing to subordinates, and assassination attempts are not only common, but frequent. The average Archon suffers dozens of assassination attempts before finally succumbing, and some have maintained their position even after well over three hundred attempts on their life.
Archons have access to the most powerful weapons, equipment, and artefacts available to their Kabal, and as such are frequently seen using amazingly advanced technologies when they deem it necessary to appear on the field of battle (although some arcane items of Haemonculi or Incubi are restricted even from the archons, as powerful as they are).
Every Archon carries a splinter pistol, though some may carry more powerful Darklight Weaponry such as a Blast pistol or even a blaster. Some archons, preferring close combat, may boost themselves with combat drugs more commonly used by wyches. They also may carry many kind of blades like djin-, husk- or just common powerblades. Whips such as the agoniser and Electrocorrosive Whip are also popular.
Archons, like the vast majority of Dark Eldar, feel that speed and dexterity are more than a replacement for defence, and wear only a light pressurised neuro-responsive body armour, allowing them to traverse vacuum when necessary and shrug off most civilian arms fire. Their suits, however, are usually covered in trophies and ornate fixtures that are better representative of their lofty position within the Kabals. Nowadays archons may also possess lightweight Ghostplate Armour which also incorporates minor forcefield technology.
More rare protective gear is also being used by archons. The very rare Shadow Field provides the best protection of all Dark Eldar technology. There is also the strange clone fields used by some archons.
Archons are almost always seen with a retinue in the field, and this retinue is usually the same group of Warriors or Incubi that work as bodyguards when in Commorragh, protecting the Archon and his palace from would be assassins or rival Kabals. An Archon's retinue can also include more exotic members such as Medusae, Lhamaean, Sslyth or Ur-Ghul.
Hierarch is a title given to a member of a Dark Eldar Kabal. The Hierarch acts as a sort of councilor to the Archon of a Kabal. They are the Archon's right hand, and are expected to keep ever vigilant against the threat of insurgents, and to enforce the Archon's will throughout the ranks in the Kabal. The majority of Hierarchs are promoted from Dracon, being the position in the Kabal most likely to come in frequent contact with the Hierarch as a subordinate and thus have the best chance to kill them.
It is also important to note that this title is used as a suffix, not a prefix like other Dark Eldar titles. Therefore, the proper way to refer to the Kabal of the Bloodied Claw's Khirareq would be "Khirareq Hierarch", not "Hierarch Khirareq".
It seems that Incubi Warriors also have title Hierarch. This Hierarch is some kind of lord of those shrines of incubi and controls each shrine's Incubus. It is unknown how these incubi-hierarchs are nominated.
A Dracon is the commander for a regiment of soldiers in a Dark Eldar Kabal. They are frequently seen leading their forces in large-scale raids, or joining up with a raid currently in progress upon receiving word that considerable resistance has been met.
Dracons usually dress very similarly to an Archon (although they are careful not to outdo them), wearing light, pressurized, neuroresponsive armor that has been customized with talismans, trophies, and ornate modifications in order to distinguish themselves and emphasize the importance of their rank to subordinates. In fact, most other races have difficulty telling Archons and Dracons apart because of this. To make this mistake in the presence of an Archon or Dracon, however, is to almost guarantee one's own death, and perhaps even the Dracon in question depending on circumstances.
By the time a member of a Kabal has achieved the rank of Dracon, they more than likely have attained access to the full armory of the Kabal, and as such are frequently seen equipped with the same incredibly advanced wargear, or ancient and valuable artifacts. In the event of a full-scale operation, one that would include the Archon in battle, Dracon's obviously must allow their lord first choice on any equipment they might want.
Dracon usually lead a squad of Kabalite Trueborn warriors.
It is quite common for a Dracon to have a specific Warrior retinue squad that they take on as their retinue, but these warriors are less like bodyguards, and more like disciples, blessed with being given the opportunity to train under a being of such distinction and skill as to achieve the rank of Dracon. This Warrior squad is usually given a special name, and is treated with increased kindness by their Dracon, while suffering increased contempt by their fellow Warriors. These elites usually swear fealty to the Dracon over the Kabal, and as such are often the fulcrum necessary for a successful coup d'etat. Unfortunately, this means in the event of the Dracon's plot being foiled, these elites are usually killed or enslaved regardless of whether they had anything to do with the matter.
The Trueborn are Dark Eldar that were not grown in a vat, but were actually born from a Dark Eldar female. These Trueborn are given more value than the half-born, and as such earn higher place in the Dark Eldar society. The Trueborn form units of their own, and given their elevated status can afford better armour, weapons, and other equipment. Also, because Trueborn are not as numerous, they usually form smaller units than their half-born counterparts.
In addition to the equipment the standard Warriors have, they also can field:
- Splinter Pistol and Close combat weapon - the Splinter pistol being a smaller, hand-held version of the Splinter Rifle.
- Shardcarbine - The shardcarbine has a fire rate between the Splinter Rifle and Cannon, but is shorter ranged than both.
Sybarite is the title given to a Dark Eldar Warrior squad leader. The strongest, most ruthless member of a squad is granted this title by killing the competition by any means necessary, as is the Dark Eldar way. A Sybarite is still a fairly low ranking member of a Kabal, and the title really serves little purpose apart from creating rivalry within the Warrior squad and giving the new Sybarite a higher-ranking position to strive for.
Once attaining the rank of Sybarite, most have honed their skills in combat to such a degree that they trade in their longer-range, but clumsier and less aggressive Splinter Rifles for Splinter Pistols and a Monomolecular Blade. Sybarites frequently use their new positions in the Kabal to procure new weapons or wargear to further increase their effectiveness in combat. Sybarites may also possess stronger Darklight Weaponry such as a blast pistol replacing his/her splinter pistol. Their ordinary close combat weapon may also be replaced by a Venom Blade or even an Agoniser.
Some Sybarites make sure to keep themselves alive and invest in their protection. They may buy Ghostplate Armour or a Phantasm Grenade Launcher.
Kabalite Warriors are the basic soldiers of a Dark Eldar Kabal. They make up the vast majority of the soldiers in a Kabal, and perform any and all tasks too important to leave to the slaves.
The innate danger of simply living in Commorragh gives its citizens training as warriors from birth, their entire lives a constant fight for survival leaving even women and children to be better able to defend themselves than their Craftworld cousins. Because of this, and because of the need for some form of a safe haven even just to sleep at, almost all citizens of Commorragh are Warriors in a Kabal. The small fraction left make up the Wych Cults, Incubus and Haemonculi sects.
Due to the need to constantly replace the populace, the Dark Eldar will grow new Dark Eldar in amniotic tubes or vats. Most of these are assigned to a life of slave labour, but a few excel enough to become a warrior in a Kabal. Even so, they are considered Half-Born.
Kabalite Warriors are frequently dispatched in large groups of five to twenty soldiers including the Sybarite. This way they have the best chance of survival against smaller, but more heavily armoured enemies such as Space Marines, allowing them to drown targets in Splinter fire or team up on enemies to ensure quick resolution to melee combat.
Some Kabals prefer to send smaller groups of five to ten Warriors per squad, then assigning them a Venom or Raider transport in order to make them even quicker at traversing a battlefield, giving their enemies as little time to react to the situation as possible, thus increasing and exploiting even the tiniest flaws in their defensive strategies. Only larger Kabals are able to afford the number of transports necessary for this technique.
Standard issue weaponry for Warriors is a Splinter Rifle. They are trained with a variety of weapons, however, in the event that their Archon chooses to assign different weapons to their squad. These weapons are:
- Splinter Cannon - A heavier version of the Splinter Rifle with more range and higher rate of fire. It is equipped with a semi-fluid stabiliser system to negate recoil.
- Dark Lance - A heavy anti-vehicle weapon, which fires a beam of dark matter at its target, tearing through armour and vaporising soldiers.
- Shredder - A small pistol-sized device that launches monomolecular barbed wire nets at its target, digging into groups of enemies with well-aimed shots.
- Blaster - A more compact version of a Dark Lance. Due to the reduced size, the accelerator mechanism is less effective, reducing the overall range of the weapon, though the devastating effects are the same.
- Blood Sails Kabal
- Kabal of the All-Seeing Eye
- Kabal of the Baleful Gaze
- Kabal of the Bladed Lotus
- Kabal of the Black Heart
- Kabal of the Black Sun
- Kabal of the Black Myriad
- Kabal of the Blades of Desire
- Kabal of the Bleaksoul Brethren
- Kabal of the Bloodied Claw
- Kabal of the Broken Sigil
- Kabal of the Burning Scale
- Kabal of the Crimson Blossom
- Kabal of the Dying Sun
- Kabal of the Dark Mirror
- Kabal of the Eternal Flame
- Kabal of the Falling Moon
- Kabal of the Fell Witch
- Kabal of the Fiend Ascendant
- Kabal of the Flayed Skull
- Kabal of Immortality Denied
- Kabal of the Lacerated Eye*
- Kabal of the Last Hatred*
- Kabal of the Lords of Iron Thorn
- Kabal of the Obsidian Rose
- Kabal of the Poisoned Fang
- Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue
- Kabal of the Pierced Eye
- Prophets of War
- Kabal of the Rending Talon
- Kabal of the Realm Eternal
- Kabal of the Shattered Hand
- Kabal of the Slaughtered Heart
- Kabal of the Slashed Eye
- Kabal of the Severed
- Kabal of the Stolen Conscience
- Kabal of the Shrieking Souls
- Kabal of the Talon Cyriix
- Kabal of the Venomed Blade
- Kabal of the Wraithkind
- Kabal of the White Flames