The Dark Elves, who call themselves Druchii, are the arch-enemies of the High Elves. Expert corsairs and pirates, they are the scourge of the seas responsible for countless raids. The Dark Elves were cast from their homeland of Ulthuan following a bitter civil war. They are now merciless raiders, dedicating their lives to the infliction of pain and misery on others. The Druchii are united in their hatred of all other living things, ruled over by Malekith - the dreaded Witch King of Naggaroth.
Dark Elves are both more slender and taller than humans, with long limbs and adept, slim fingers, their skin is invariably pale, their hair dark. Often the natural beauty of their features is marred by a sneer or a scowl, their large oval eyes showing little but contempt to others. [3a]
Both sexes favour armour of ornate and sinister design, often with swirling designs in gold, black and silver. [2a]
Seeing little change in the weather through the year, the Dark Elves divide it into four seasons, each with its associated god or goddess. [4a]
Cities and outposts
- Clar Karond, the Tower of Doom
- Ghrond, the North Tower
- Hag Graef, the Dark Crag
- Har Ganeth, City of Executioners
- Karond Kar, the Tower of Despair
- Naggarond, the Tower of Chill, capital of the realm and oldest settlement. [2a]
- The Watchtowers guard the northern border of Naggaroth against the innumerable Chaos warbands.
- The seaworthy Black Arks are home ports of the most important raiding fleets. Most of them seem to be of the size of a small city.
Dark Elves live for many centuries, able to perfect their skills and abilities over their long lifetime. They seek to dominate others and gratify their own desires, seeing their hated High Elf cousins as foolish and weak – a people to be exterminated if the elven race is to remain the pre-eminent power of the world. [3a]
"Completely ruthless" and "utterly merciless" are the most appropriate words to describe Dark Elf society. Its economy is based mainly upon slave labour. like the land they now inhabit, the Dark Elves have become harsh and unrelenting with a burning core of hatred against thier kinfolk of Ulthuan. [3a]
Female Dark Elves are at least and often more terrifying than their male compatriots. [1a]
Their culture is built around raiding and slavery, they take what they want, when they want with slaves to undertake all the menial tasks below the notice of a Dark Elf. Untold thousands of slaves labour in the mines, the forests, the fields, cities and forges of Naggaroth. [3a]
There is a rigid code of etiquette to help protect the nobility from assassins. Unless summoned, a lowborn elf may not approach withn three sword lengths of a noble, and a retainer must not move within 2 sword lengths, a bodyguard or supposedly trusted lieutenant may stand just outside a swords length. Only a lover, plaything or a foe in battle can breach the single sowrd length. [3b]
Government and organisation
Malekith is the undisputed ruler of the Dark Elves. Second only to him is his mother Morathi, who acts as his regent when needed. Below them are the rulers of the cities, the Drachau, aided by the Vaulkhar, commanders of the city-armies. A fringe benefit of these positions is that their lives belong to Malekith; only he may order their execution and he will punish those who kill his lieutenants.
The Dark Elves excel at the use of Dhar. Due the Prophecy of Demise officially only Dark Elf women may study the secrets of magic. They become Sorceresses, with many joining the Dark Convent and obliged to swear a life of celibacy.
Dark Elf Warriors - Dark Elven Warriors form the bulk of most Dark Elf armies, being composed mostly of civilian volunteers and conscripts.
Dreadspears - Dreadspears are spearmen - each is armed with a Drannach or Sky-Piercer. They are more disciplined than the Bleakswords whom they consider arrogant. They best serve a defensive function through the use of their shield and spear walls.
Darkshards - Darkshades are crossbowmen, theirs is the mastery of the Uraithen, the Deathrain. Many were stationed at the northern Watchtowers of Naggaroth as lightly armoured Chaos Marauders were vulnerable to their bolts.
Bleakswords - Bleakswords are swordsmen renowned for their arrogance. To them the Dreadspears are peasants and the Darkshards craven, they alone are the greatest.
Corsairs - Black Ark Corsairs are notorious reavers, having spent their entire lives pillaging distant lands. They are the lionized darlings of Naggarothi society, embodying as they do the drive to earn riches and glory.
Shades - Shades, or Dark Elf Scouts as they are often called, are a group of Dark Elves who eschew life in the cities of Naggaroth and instead lead a savage existence in the grim Blackspine Mountains.
Black Guard - The Black Guard of Naggarond, or simply the Black Guard are Malekith's personal army, answerable no other save he. They are recruited from the offspring of families high in the Witch King's favour, taken at birth from mothers who are soon thereafter put to the sword. With no family ties to distract them, these children are raised within the barracks of the Black Guard and taught the myriad skills of death and destruction that are required of Malekith's foremost elite.
Executioners - The Executioners are some of the deadliest fighters within Har Ganeth, the City of Executioners. Har Ganeth is the spiritual centre of Khaine's worship, with many shrines to the Lord of Murder, dominated by the towering edifice of the great temple. It is from Har Ganeth that Hellebron rules over the Witch Elves, and countless victims are brought here to be sacrificed upon Khaine's altars.
Sisters of Slaughter - The Sisters of Slaughter are first amongst the gladiatorial guilds, the undisputed queens of the arena. Once they numbered merely a dozen -- the outcast daughters of a disgraced house who pledged their lives to Eldrazor, the Lord of Blades, so that he might look favourably upon their quest for revenge. Now, with their vengeance long ago carved into the bones of their family's betrayers, the Sisters have thousands of experienced fighters spread amongst enclaves in all the great cities, and a legend that has reached even the shores of distant lands.
Witch Elves - Witch Elves, known also as the Brides of Khaine are the cruelest of all their heartless race, for they live only to serve Khaine's malevolent demands for bloody, agonising sacrifice. Their observances to the Lord of Murder are blood-slicked affairs. Still-beating hearts are ripped from victims' chests and hurled into fires, writhing flesh is daubed with gore-red runes and altars are decorated with the entrails of dying captives.
Doomfire Warlock - Doomfire Warlocks feel the Dark Prince's grasp on their souls grow with every passing day. As the grip tightens, dark runes blaze into life on their flesh, an unholy fire that creeps slowly across the skin. If this process is not arrested before the Warlock's entire body is swathed in flame, his soul is snuffed out and consumed by the Dark Prince. This fate cannot be thwarted, for no mortal can long deny rapacious Slaanesh. It can, however, be stalled if the Warlock sacrifices others in his stead -- the purer or mightier the soul, the better.
Dark Riders - Dark Riders are the eyes and ears of Malekith's army, acting as lightning fast scouts that can outrun even the fastest horsemen. In the grim days when armies of Daemons besieged Ulthuan, keen-eyed messengers from Nagarythe kept guard for any signs of a daemonic intrusion. Cold One Knights - Cold One Knights count themselves amongst the finest warriors in Naggaroth. They are nobles of great wealth and ambition, whose warrior instincts elevate them far beyond the upstart cavalrymen of lesser races. The knights' weapons are the finest that can be bought in the great cities: long swords enchanted in such a manner as to never lose their edge, and tall lances sharp enough to pierce the hide of a Dragon.
Cold One Chariot - Cold One Chariots are sometimes given as gifts to those rare knights who have pleased Lord Malekith with their devotion and prowess in battle. To possess such a machine is a symbol of great prestige, and is ranked amongst the highest stations in battle, even though the Cold Ones' truculent nature can often bring the chariot to a jarring halt at the most inopportune moments. Scourgerunner Chariot - Beastmasters are always eager to find fresh subjects, for the many perils of battlefield, gladiatorial arena and neglect ensure that stables suffer a high rate of attrition. Small bands of Beastmasters roam the wilds in Scourgerunner Chariots, searching fen, crag and cave for suitable prizes. Armed with barbed nets and harpoons attached to strong chains, they snare and immobilise their prey.
Harpies - Harpy or Harpies are rare winged predators almost entirely unknown in the Old World. They make their lairs in the mountains and cliffs of the Land of Chill, the Northern Waste and the lands of Troll Country but always near the sea, where prey is more readily available. Their wings are leathery, resembling those of a bat, though their forms often sprout black feathers. Their lower bodies end in scale-covered bird’s legs and jagged talons.
Bloodwrack Medusa - Bloodwrack Medusae are horrid half-snake creatures that have serve the whim and desires of Morathi, the Hag Queen of Naggaroth for many thousands of years. It is said that the the Bloodwrack Medusae were Sorceresses of Ghrond who used their magics and blood-feasting rituals to become more beautiful than even the gods.
Kharibdyss - The Kharibdyss is a loathsome beast of the uncharted depths, its kind seldom seen on land save when the Dark Elves goad one to war. Untold numbers of these primeval horrors churn the murky deep off Naggaroth's western coastline, sating their hunger on any creature foolish enough to cross their path. Occasionally, a Kharibdyss can be sighted upon the broken isles of Naggaroth's western coast, tentacles writhing with slime and sea-spray as the beast hunts for tasty morsels.
Manticore - Manticores are huge, leonine beasts that soar on leathery wings. They are amongst the most powerful of all the predators that live in the north’s mountain ranges. The mutating power of Chaos ensures that no two Manticores are truly alike. Some have manes of writhing serpents, others pelts of iron scales, and many sprout spiked tails with a poison strong enough to boil a man’s blood in his veins. However, all Manticores are berserk killers saturated with primal fury. They are so fierce that they are held by the Dark Elves to be incarnations of Khaine, God of Murder.
War Hydra - The Hydra is a titanic beast of the mountains, whose ill-tempered and ravenous nature has proven the doom of many an unsuspecting morsel. Indeed, so ferocious is the Hydra that campaigning armies often make wide detours to avoid intruding on such a beast's bone-strewn lair. Those that march on regardless do so either out of confidence in their battle-prowess or ignorance of the Hydra's savagery.
Black Dragon - Black Dragons are a corrupted variant of the Dragon race currently living within the cold frigid lands of Naggaroth. Like all intelligent creatures, Dragons are prone to acts of good or ill depending upon their nature and upbringing. When Prince Malekith began his schemes to usurp the Phoenix Throne for himself, his agents stole Dragon Eggs from the Kingdom of Caledor and used them to create a new breed of Dragons.
Dreadlord - Dreadlords are the so-called noble-born rulers of Naggaroth. They range from sycophantic schemers to masterful strategists who have waged war across a hundred battlefields. Though all such nobles pursue their own unique enthusiasms and ambitions, they are without exception selfish individuals, possessed of an arrogance matched only by their martial prowess, honed over centuries of unceasing war.
Supreme Sorceress - Most Dark Covents of Sorceresses centre around a single powerful Sorceress; these despots may have apprentice spellcasters and captains, but their rule is absolute. Such is the supernatural charisma of the mistress of a Dark Covent that almost anyone might fall under her spell.
High Beastmaster - These cruel elves are the ones responsible to tame and train the warbeasts the Dark Elves use in their armies. It matters not whether the beast is a raging Manticore, a cunning Harpy or the wisest of Caledor's ancient Dragons: eventually, all submit to the Beastmaster's will, or perish under his lash.
Black Ark Fleetmaster - It takes decades of hard-bitten villainy to earn (or usurp) command of a mighty Black Ark and its attendant fleet. Little wonder is it that Black Ark Fleetmasters are among the most intemperate and ruthless of their race, and must always have one eye on their 'loyal' warriors.
Dark Elf Master - Dark Elf Masters are the nobles of Dark Elven society, sustained by the misery they inflict upon others. Those that manage to survive to adulthood are sent on a year-long raiding expedition. Dark Elves abhor weakness of any sort, so those youths that fail to make their mark during this time do not endure long thereafter.
Sorceress - Sorceresses are the most prominent magic-users of Naggaroth. Elves have a natural affinity for the shifting Winds of Magic. In the ancient days, they learnt the secrets of manipulating this mystical power from the Slann, the most powerful servants of the Old Ones. Yet for all their expertise, there was always a limit to the amount of power the Elves could harness - the risk of madness and spiritual corruption prevented them from delving deeper into the power of Chaos. It was Morathi who first ventured into this forbidden territory. Through dark rituals and bloody sacrifices, she moulded the energies of Chaos to her bidding.
Death Hag - The Death Hags are the priestesses of the Witch Elves, the guardians of Khaine's mysteries. It is they who mix the noxious potions that drive the Witch Elves into their battle-rage and they who craft the poisons with which they taint their blades. They know also how to wield the secret names of their god as obscene weapons that can befuddle their foes or strike them down with madness.
Khainite Assassin - Khainite Assassins are masters of a subtle and murderous magic, trained from infancy to be the chosen warriors of Khaine. They move silently and with a precision that surpasses even the standards of other Elves. Blindfolded, an Assassin can walk sure-footedly across the spears of an embattled phalanx, or strike a precise flurry of blows so that each cut exploits a different weakness of armour or flesh.
- 1: Ravening Hordes (2nd Edition)
- 1a: Dark Elves, pg. 25
- 2: Warhammer Armies (3rd Edition)
- 2a: Dark Elves, pg. 32
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (7th Edition)
- 4: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (8th Edition)
- 4a: Annals of the Black Tower, pg. 15