A Rough Guide to Druchii Society

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A Rough Guide to Druchii Society

Post by Nightcall »

The society of Naggaroth is a hierarchical one, with their Witch King, Malekith, at the top. At his right hand is his mother and rumoured consort, Queen Morathi. It has been argued, however, that the Dark Elves are in truth a Machiavellian society, with one man at the top and several powerful underlings in competition with each other, all vying for power but simultaneously preventing others from getting it. Malekith allows this to continue because it keeps all sects strong by culling the weak, but also keeps them under his complete control.

Each city is lorded over by a Drachau (meaning "Hand of Night"), chosen by Malekith. Beneath the Drachau is a Vaulkhar, who is the leader of the Drachau's army. Most cities have one Vaulkhar, although Clar Karond has three due to it being the home of the Druchii fleet. Vaulkhar translates as "Maker of the Chains", referring to the Vaulkhar's right to enslave prisoners of war if he wishes.

Under each Drachau are the highborn houses. These may be from old noble families, hailing as far back as old Nagarythe, or those that have earned favour and wealth over the years since the Sundering. Beneath the highborn houses, are the nobles; Druchii that have elevated themselves from mere civilians through skills in warfare, wealth, or some other deed.

Each year at the festival of Hanil Khar, (meaning "The bearing of chains), the highborns and nobles make an offering to the Drachau and restate their loyalty. Hanil Khar marks end of raiding season and start of winter, and so depending on the success of the raids that year, nobles earn or fall from favour based upon their tribute made.

Then we have the assorted ranks of Dark Elves who have no rank or privilege. These may include those that serve the Temple of Khaine, warriors, merchants, corsairs, and slavers.

Hithuan is a social rule which measures how close one druchii is allowed to another; this depends on social rank and is measured in sword lengths. A good and trusted retainer may be permitted to stand one sword's length from the one they serve. A servant or slave will be forced to stand at a more considerable distance. Anyone stepping any closer to a sword's length is either a lover, or wishes them dead. It is seen as a threat or a symbol of intimacy.

The Dark Elves believe themselves to be superior to all and equal to none. Their principal enemies are the High Elves for obvious reasons, but over the centuries they have been given reason to take up arms against all races of the Warhammer World.

Since they are situated north of the jungle covered continent of Lustria, the Dark Elves organize frequent raiding parties on the Lizardmen temple cities for magical items, gold, and slaves (although Lizardmen don't make good slaves due to their coldblooded stubbornness).It has been known for Dark Elves to recruit Ogres, Greenskins, Beastmen or Warriors of Chaos as allies, though they would never see them as equals and send them to their deaths without a second thought. On several occasions the Dark Elves joined forces with the fleets of the Undead Tomb King Settra to raid the Human kingdoms of Tilea for slaves. The Human realms of the Empire and Bretonnia are favoured targets for slave raids as well.

The only race that the Dark Elves have any respect for is the Skaven due to their similar nature. The Dark Elves are often betrayed by the followers of The Horned Rat and the ratmen are similarly betrayed by the Druchii. The Skaven are one of the few races that have a treaty with the Dark Elves (which the Dark Elves actually honour).

Dark Elves have one major source of income: slave labour. Dark Elves raid all other lands, particularly Ulthuan, home of their enemies the High Elves. They take food and treasure, but the main purpose of their raids is to obtain slaves. Slaves play an important part in Druchii society, as they perform the menial chores that an enterprising Druchii deigns to be below him. Slaves also make up the bulk of the ritual sacrifices to the god Khaine. Dark Elves do not value their slaves' lives, and often kill one or two to show the other slaves their brutality. Slave revolts are rare, harshly suppressed, and due to the brutality of the Dark Elves, usually only the "new stock" have the will to participate in any revolt. The only "successful" revolts usually occur at sea, aboard either the slave ships or the Black Arks. In the former case, the surviving slaves tend to sail the captured ship to their freedom. In the latter case, the slave revolt is usually focused on stealing ships and escaping rather than taking over the Black Ark.

The Dark Elves take to sea in their Black Arks. Kept afloat by magic, the Black Arks travel far and wide to procure slaves. Each Black Ark is home to a small army of Dark Elf raiders and a small fleet of raiding vessels. These forces can be landed on the coast of an unsuspecting kingdom, perform a lightning raid, and be off before any of the local defence forces are able to react (the raiders do not do well in stand-up fights). In this way, countless millions of doomed souls have been taken back to Naggaroth to a fate worse than death.

Dark Elf armies are fast and dangerous but potentially fragile. They are fleeter of foot than humans and favour speed and manoeuvrability over heavy armour. Characteristics of Dark Elven armies include armour forged with all manners of wicked barbs, hooks and blades, and their uniforms tend to be dark sombre colours such as purple, indigo or black. Human skin is a highly prized material for durable military garb, and their graceful swords and spearheads tend to be hooked and serrated for catching enemy blades and inflicting severe injuries.

Druchii infantry primarily consist of spear phalanxes and repeater crossbow regiments, which are supported by elite infantry and shock troops, such as the deadly Har Ganeth Executioners, who wield two-handed blades called Draich, heavily armed Corsair raiders, scores of Witch Elves that enter battle in a drug-crazed killing frenzy, or a detachment of Malekith's personal guard, the implacable and lethal Black Guard.

Cavalry often plays a key role in engagements. The elite Druchii cavalry are the Cold One Knights: Druchii nobility that ride carnivorous reptiles known as Cold Ones into battle. Not used by the Elves prior to The Sundering, they are native to the caves beneath the Blackspine Mountains and are a separate breed from those used by the Lizardmen of Lustria. These fearsome beasts are also used to pull heavy Cold One Chariots. They are often deployed alongside Dark Riders; fast and highly manoeuvrable warriors swathed in black robes who ride upon swift Elven steeds.

The Dark Elves use a rather vicious war machine known as the Reaper. Similar to the original design for the Repeater Bolt Thrower of their High Elven cousins, the Reaper is a large, ballista-style torsion weapon. It is capable of hurling either a single harpoon-like projectile with devastating force or a volley of smaller bolts. They are usually found mounted on the bow of Dark Elf raiding ships or on the parapets of the city walls. However, they are also frequently taken into major combat engagements, as they are both lightweight and extremely effective in the hands of a skilled crew.

Dark Elves display a talent for taming and training the gigantic monsters that stalk the mountain ranges of their homeland. It is not uncommon for a Druchii Beastmaster to drive a monstrous, many-headed Hydra or a towering, winged manticore into battle. Off the battlefield, these Beastmasters are also responsible for training Cold Ones and elven steeds, and the subjugation of the endless supply of slaves.

Harpies often accompany Druchii forces into battle. These beasts have the appearance of winged women with talons and fangs. Possessed of a savage beauty, they are believed to be the reincarnations of slain Witch Elves of Khaine. Harpies are utterly untameable by the Beastmasters, and thus are somewhat unreliable. They follow large Dark Elf war parties to prey upon the fallen and wounded.

Magical power on the battlefield is supplied by the six Convents of Sorceresses, who refine the inherent magical aptitude of Dark Elf women into a deadly force. Though the Sorceresses are vulnerable in close combat, the sinister power that they wield is potent enough to ensure that almost every significant Dark Elf force will have at least one Sorceress.

Overall, the Druchii are devastating on the offensive. Every Dark Elf spends their entire life drilling and training in military manoeuvres. Units working together in concert can break or destroy nearly any enemy that dares underestimate them, yet their fragile constitution means they are not able to absorb much damage in return. This forces Dark Elf commanders to rely on sound tactics rather than brute force. Thus Druchii generals are considered some of the best tacticians in the Warhammer world.

The Druchii primarily worship the Elven god Kaela Mensha Khaine, the Bloody-Handed God and Thousand Faced Lord of Murder. While their kindred, the High Elves of Ulthuan, only invoke this wrathful god in times of war, the Dark Elves are wholly devoted to him. Each city has temples and shrines devoted to Khaine where blood sacrifices are made. Dark Elves are required to donate a percentage of the slaves they capture on raids to the temple but most Dark Elves make several additional sacrifices a year.

The most savage sect of Khaine worshippers are known as the Brides of Khaine, more commonly called Witch Elves (or Maibd in the Dark Elf language). They are an all-female cult of warrior priestesses. Witch Elves consider the battlefield to be a holy place and are suicidally fanatical in proving their worth to Khaine by spilling the blood of their enemies. The cult is led by high priestesses called hags, who bathe in blood to retain eternal youth. Although they are cruel and savage in combat they are still extremely beautiful and many weak willed men have told them secrets in a foolish attempt to make her love him. Morathi founded the cult of Khaine, but on a day to day level her rival Crone Hellebron, eldest of the hags, rules the cult, although in truth, the vast majority of the cult are loyal to Morathi.

The holiest time of the year for Dark Elves is Death Night. During this night the Witch Elves rule the streets of the Dark Elf cities, capturing anyone they find (whether they are slaves or Dark Elves) and either dragging them back to the temples or simply killing them on the spot as sacrifices to Khaine. The Witch Elves will even go so far as to break into houses, which has led to Dark Elf families barricading windows and doors during this night. On Death Night, the Witch Elves will also steal away a number of children and babies from their families. Girls captured like this will be trained to become Witch Elves while boys are tossed in a cauldron of boiling blood: those that survive are trained to be true adepts of Khaine- the feared assassins. As dawn breaks after Death Night, it is customary for those who lived through the night to make a sacrifice from their own household (usually a favoured slave or elderly relative) as thanks to the Lord of Murder for sparing their family. It is doubtful that anyone would even attempt to defend themselves against the Witches, as the retribution for successfully doing so would be cruel even by the standards of the Dark Elves.

Besides the worship of Khaine, a sizeable portion of the population has also secretly kept alive worship of the Chaos God of Pleasure, Slaanesh. The Cult of Pleasure, led by Morathi, played a major role in the Sundering of the Elves of Ulthuan, but was considered heretical after the founding of Naggaroth and was brutally suppressed as the worship of Khaine became prevalent.
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Post by Syjahel »

An outstanding and detailed summary. This should be very useful to newcomers to Druchii because it covers all the major lore in one place. For me, it was also a good read :)

Maybe a Mod could make this a Pinned topic?
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Post by Kinslayer »

Ask and you shall receive... This is a good and detailed overview of Druchii society. I have stickied this for you.

Perhaps it would also be good to mention how male practitioners of magic are put to death if discovered by order of the Witch King.
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