A squad of Dark Eldar Warriors

In the fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000, the Dark Eldar are a Kindred of 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. They are the thematic equivalent of the Warhammer Fantasy Dark Elves, and indeed Dark Elves in general. The Dark Eldar revel in piracy, enslavement and torture, and are sadistic in the extreme. Dark Eldar armies make use of various anti-gravity skimmers such as Raiders and Ravagers to launch high speed attacks. They strike with little or no warning, using an interdimensional labyrinth known as the Webway to traverse the galaxy safely and far more quickly than most races are able to with their Warp jumps.

The Dark Eldar are unique amongst the Warhammer 40,000 factions in the sense that they do not occupy many planets, but rather one dark city - Commorragh. They are mainly pirates, though are sometimes used as mercenaries.

Dark Eldar, like most Eldar Kindreds, make use of advanced technology, including anti-gravity devices, dark matter (or antimatter) weaponry, nanotechnology and psychic artifacts. While Dark Eldar do make use of psychic devices, they do not use psychic powers themselves. 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.

Games Workshop decided to make the Dark Eldar as a separate army, after it became fairly common to see gamers collect "Dark Eldar" armies, which are total conversions/customizations of Eldar miniatures while still retaining the standard Eldar rules. It was also relatively convenient to add the Dark Eldar to the existing Eldar storyline without any conflict, right at the catastrophe that destroyed the Eldar homeworld.


Once part of their sister species, the Eldar, the Pleasure Cultist ancestors of the Dark Eldar were the cause of the Fall. Before the Imperium rose to power, the Eldar ruled the galaxy and spread beauty and grace to all the worlds within it. Perfectly set in their power, they turned their energies inward in an attempt to improve themselves to the point of perfection. Their quest, known as the Path, still continues today. Bringing to their race arts, sciences, and martial training, the Eldar sought to experience emotions and sensations to their fullest extent, disregarding the morality of their actions. Foreseeing a terrible outcome, the Seers of the Eldar warned against these "pleasure cults," stating that no good could come out of them. The Eldar eventually sacrificed so many of their own people ritualistically that it caused the God Slaanesh to be born, and its birthcries tore a hole in the centre of the Eldar Empire, leaving only a few Craftworlds that had been stationed on the fringes. The hole which She Who Thirsts tore through from the Warp still remains; it is now known by the Imperium as the Eye of Terror.

Thousands of worlds were ravaged by this, killing millions upon millions of Eldar. In the confusion, many more Eldar died fighting one another. A tale of exactly what happened is recounted and is now known as The Torturer's Tale [1]. In preparation, the Seers had crafted vast and unimaginably large space vessels, some the size of large planets. These ships became known as Craftworlds. Though many Craftworlds were able to survive the Fall and the creation of the Eye of Terror (most notably the Craftworlds of Iyanden, Biel-Tan, Saim-Hann, Ulthwé, and Alaitoc), several others who were patrolling the area around where the Eye was created were sucked in and destroyed (most notably Altansar, which re-emerged from the Warp during the 13th Black Crusade).

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 also 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 aging, 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 are those of the many captives taken during Dark Eldar raids, adding a desperate edge to an otherwise simplistic nature: they are inevitably damned, and so their thirst for death is in part motivated by the gnawing fear that in the end their souls will be consumed. These dark pirates basically live for one thing and one thing only: the pain and torture of all races that aren't Dark Eldar.


In the game, many of the Dark Eldar units are similar to the units used by the Eldar army, but twisted to fit in with the darker nature of the Dark Eldar. Their units are very fast, but are often have only light armor.

Dark Eldar Lord The Archons and Dracons of Commorragh lead the Kabals of the Dark Eldar into battle. The Archons are fierce warriors who lead their Kabals ruthlessly, claiming any and all spoils of battle. "Dark Eldar thrive on domination and power, and those who are vicious and ruthless enough will quickly rise to positions of authority. The Dark Eldar Lords lead their servants into battle in the search for slaves and souls, leaving worlds in ruin with a veritable mountain of dead heaped in their wake." - Codex: Dark Eldar.

Dark Eldar Incubi A neutral faction of Dark Eldar who are hired to become a Lord's heavily-armoured bodyguards, and the only units in a Dark Eldar force to use heavy armour. They are often needed to protect their master from his own power-hungry followers as much as from his enemies. They are equipped with great power-weapons in the form of halberds that are able to cut through armour with ease. Their helmets have neurally-linked splinter pistols mounted on them that can be fired using mental commands. The first Incubus is rumoured to be the dark Phoenix Lord, Arhra, who originally founded the Craftworld warrior Aspect the Striking Scorpions. Striking Scorpions are known to have a particular hatred for Incubi, who they term 'fallen warriors'.

The Dark Eldar Ravager is a vehicle of the Dark Eldar. It carries the heaviest armament of all Dark Eldar vehicles, sporting three Dark Lances which may be individually upgraded to disintegrators. It, like the Dark Eldar Raider, is lightly armoured and should not lead an attack.

The Dark Eldar Raider is a light transport vehicle used by the Dark Eldar. Dark Eldar Raiders transport up to ten Dark Eldar around a battlefield. They are exceedingly fast, yet lightly armoured and are highly vulnerable.

Haemonculus (plural Haemonculi) are the master torturers of the Dark Eldar. They consider inflicting pain the highest art and are revered among the Dark Eldar. They may be present in the retinue of a Dark Eldar Lord, or leading a Dark Eldar army into battle on their own.

Grotesques are twisted and deformed Dark Eldar, due either to their own need to inflict pain or the attentions of a Haemonculus. They are immune to pain and fearless in battle.

Wyches (singular Wych) are gladiatorial warriors of the Dark Eldar. They fight in arenas in duels with one another, aliens and warp beasts, few survive their first duel but those who live learn quickly. Ruled over by their succubi, the wyches are highly proficient at close-quarters combat, practicing their skills for their entire lives. Wyches use a cocktail of combat-enhancing drugs to improve their performance on the battlefield.

A Mandrake is a type of Dark Eldar whose physique has adapted to make him camouflaged almost anywhere. Advanced infiltrators, Dark Eldar Mandrakes strike from the shadows, surprising and rending their enemies apart. They have shadow-skin, which is possibly from warp exposure, that makes them incredibly hard to see when combined with their stealth. Mandrakes are often cannibalistic and wild, living separate from other Dark Eldar.

A Dark Eldar Hellion is a Wych who is mounted on a "skyboard", a flying platform from which they assault the enemy forces before they have a chance to fire back. They wield Hellglaives, double sided spears with small splinter rifles built in to ensure maximum damage to the enemy. They often deploy ahead of the army, or even during the battle.

A Dark Eldar Scourge is a Warrior equipped with a streamlined jump-pack. Unlike other armies, who have assault-oriented jump-troops, Scourges carry heavy weapons into battle, often employed for hit-and-run tactics against vehicles and heavy infantry.

A Warp Beast is a creature harnessed by Wych cults and are living embodiments of the fear and terror that slaves experience. They are extremely predatorial in nature and will attack whatever they see. They are often lead by a Wych beastmaster to ensure that they attack the intended target.

A Dark Eldar Reaver is a form of jetbike used by the wych cults for quick close-combat raids. They also employ ranged weaponry to soften up enemies before they can assault.

A Dark Eldar Raven is a form of fighter-jet armed with two Dark Lances and one Splinter Cannon. They are often used to destroy the enemy's armour to make it easier for Raiders to move about the battle field. Once they are finished, they will continue to mow down infantry until a path has been formed for the main attack forces.

A Dark Eldar Razorwing is mainly a Raven with its weapons reversed and attached to another Raven. They are used to decimate opposing troops with their two twin-linked Splinter Cannons. They also employ Dark Lances against armoured troops.

A Dark Eldar Talos is a large killing machine with a common ideology with that of a dreadnought, it is armed with 2 powerful claws and has a wild fire special rule in its talos sting. An anti-tank and anti-infantry killing machine with a variable number of attacks

The Court of the Archon

The Court of the Archon is a squad of 4-9 bodyguards who accompany their Archon, and cannot be selected by players if they have not selected an Archon. This squad was introduced in the November 2010 release as a brand new addition.

  • Archon - In Games Workshop literature, Archons are the masters of the Dark Eldar Kabals. They are masters of intrigue and extremely skilled warriors, with in-game statistics to reflect this.
  • Lhamaean - In Dark Eldar society, Lhamaeans function as courtesans to a Kabal's Archon. Whilst they may be part of an Archon's harem, they are a sisterhood devoted to the study and use of poisons. In the game, they have highly poisonous weapons and enhance the efficiency of any poisoned weapons the Archon carries.
  • Medusae - Depicted as Dark Eldar slaves possessed by extra-planar creatures whose bodies store emotions and sensations, Medusae are used by Archons to record the sensations of a battle, but in-game they have a special attack that uses a template to fire, much like a flamer.
  • Sslyth - The Sslyth are a race not previously mentioned in Warhammer 40,000 literature until the introduction of the Dark Eldar Codex in 2010. They are described as a race of snake-people with four arms carrying a selection of weapons and function as bodyguards to the Archon.
  • Dark Eldar Ur-Ghul - They are a sightless species whose sense of smell has become highly advanced. They may be compared to the Ghouls of fantasy armies and function as warriors biased towards close combat in the game.

Notable characters

Asdrubael Vect, Overlord of the Kabal of the Black Heart

Asdrubael Vect is one of the most powerful Dark Eldar, having founded Commorragh after the Fall of the Eldar. He is the High Lord of the Black Heart Kabal, the most powerful Kabal in the Dark City. In the past, many have tried to claim power through his destruction, but all have died. Vect rides into battle on the Dais of Destruction, a heavily modified Ravager that carries him and his bodyguard.

Kruellagh The Vile, Archon of the Emasculators

Kruellagh The Vile is another Dark Eldar Archon, from one of the less respected Dark Eldar Kabals. This is due to their leader's love of killing, and thus they bring in few slaves. Kruellagh uses the unique Soul Flayer, two long spikes producing from each arm that drain the victim's vital juices. Her name is a play on Cruella de Vil.

Lelith Hesperax, Mistress of Death

The leader of the Wych Cult of Strife, Lelith Hesperax is one of the most skilled Wyches known. Lelith is renowned as the most vicious fighter in the arena of Commorragh.

Drazhar, the Master Of Blades

Drazhar, the Master Of Blades is an extremely skilled Incubus. Drazhar's signature weapons are the Disemboweler Blades, a pair of long serrated daggers wielded in each hand. Some speculate that Drazhar is in some way related to, or even is the Fallen Phoenix Arhra, Father of Scorpions and founder of the Incubi.

Urien Rakarth

Urien Rakarth is the master Haemonculus in Commorragh. He once had a motive to his work, but now lives only to feed his obsession for pain and suffering. Among his creations are the hideous creatures dubbed 'Uber Grotesques' by their master.

The Decapitator, Mandrake Champion

The Decapitator is a Mandrake, but one about whom little is known. What is known is that he has four arms and a deep craving for flesh and blood. Supposedly, his lair is made up of a thousand skulls. He is known as the master infiltrator and is named after his weapon, the decapitator. There is currently no model available to represent The Decapitator.

No'kaei, the Daughter of Pain

Former handmaiden and bodyguard of Asdrubael Vect, No'kaei has since been cast out of the Kabal of the Black Heart for an unknown reason. Angered by her enforced exile, she led a large force of Dark Eldar to the world of Medusa V, in an attempt to capture enough slaves to bribe Asdrubael's followers and launch a coup. However, when she returned to challenge Vect she was betrayed by her own followers; her current fate is unknown.


External links

{{ Navbox | name = Warhammer 40,000 | title = Warhammer 40,000

| group1 = Forces of the Imperium | list1 = Imperial Guard · Space Marines · Sisters of Battle · Daemonhunters

| group2 = Forces of Chaos | list2 = Chaos Space Marines · Chaos Daemons · The Lost and the Damned

| group3 = Alien races | list3 = Dark Eldar · Eldar · Orks · Necrons · Tau · Kroot · Vespid · Tyranids · Demiurg · Squat

| group4 = Spin-offs | list4 = Aeronautica Imperialis · Battlefleet Gothic · Dark Millennium · Epic · Gorkamorka · Inquisitor · Necromunda · Space Hulk · Warhammer 40,000 novels

| group5 = Video games | list5 = Space Crusade · Space Hulk · Vengeance of the Blood Angels · Final Liberation · Chaos Gate · Rites of War · Fire Warrior · Dawn of War (Winter Assault · Dark Crusade · Soulstorm· Glory in Death · Squad Command · Dawn of War II (Chaos Rising · Retribution· Space Marine · Dark Millennium Online

| group6 = Role-playing games | list6 = Dark Heresy · Rogue Trader · Deathwatch · Black Crusade

| group7 = Film | list7 = Ultramarines: The Movie |}

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.