When the new book was released I was first at the store at 10:01 am! I love how the background story feels, you really want to start hating the High Elves just because they always win by luck or some trick, not by military cunning like the Dark Elves.
What I always have been wondering is, could anyone (besides Morathi) replace Malekith? The Druchii have lots of high standing nobles, so there must be some that might get to the top should Malekith perish. *I didn’t read all the Q’s above so this might have been asked before*
Thanks for the great things you did in GW!
I don’t think that the Dark Elf society could maintain itself in its current form without Malekith. Malekith retains his position as much by being a kingmaker and power broker as he does his individual sorcerous skills and physical abilities (aided by Morathi). Malekith is the only true heir to Aenarion and were he to be removed from the equation the Dark Elves would fall upon each other in the subsequent power vacuum. If the other noble families of Naggaroth decided to overthrow Naggarond, it would be possible to oust Malekith. However, those families would never agree upon a single successor to back and their self-interest destroys any chance of cooperation between them. Thus, Malekith does not have to stay more powerful than all of the other families combined, only more powerful than the strongest of the rest. As soon as one family starts getting too big for their boots, Malekith can apply the leverage he has to elevate another dynasty to a level of competition with them and both are then plunged into weakening rivalry with each other. As far as the Dark Elf nobility is concerned, if anyone is going to be in charge it has to be Malekith and not some other family – “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.”
Hi Gav, thanks for the new book. I’ll just ask you a single (background) question: who is Furion? His name appears in the new book as was the case in the previous one, but he remains mysterious. Could you tell us more about him, give us some precisions, even if, I guess, you might not have a precise idea of who he really is (just help us to imagine him in the way you imagined him). Many Dark Elf players are interested in Furion and invented him a story, a life (they made him a great immortal sorcerer who is one of Malekith’s closest advisers) and rules, what do you think about it?
I genuinely have as much information about Furion as everybody else. He was a narrator created by Tuomas Pirinen for parts of the early draft of the 6th edition book that I inherited from him – but there was no explanatory documentation that delved any deeper. I think the creations envisaged by the community gel with my own impressions of this enigmatic figure. Perhaps Furion will make some kind of cameo in the Sundering trilogy…
Gav. Firstly, it’s great to have you hosting a Q+A session on the less rules side of the Games Devs’ jobs; I think these areas tend to get neglected in the rush to beat the snot out of the other guy.
I have 3 questions (please note that I haven’t been able to get the book yet due to recovering from an operation, so bear with me if I touch on stuff that is expanded over the last book):
1) What is the reasoning and rationalisation for the Dark Elves just turning away from Slaanesh (and being able to), and returning to Khaine? It’s not like anyone else has ever been able to turn their back on the Ruinous Powers, yet the DE achieved it and nothing is ever really made of this. Why was this background decision even taken? What benefit does Khaine give to writing up the race that Slaanesh worship wouldn’t? Conversely, what sort of opportunities does it close up?
2) Life outside the six cities. The wonderful maps of Naggaroth reveal a great many fascinating areas and terrains of this vast continent, yet everything focuses solely on six small and territorially insignificant locations. Is there life outside the city walls? Do Druchii exist in settlements all over the continent? What is life like outside the cities? I’ve always been interested in portraying a more ‘provincial’ Druchii than one ever gets to see. I’d love to know a bit more about the place, the whole place, that the Druchii inhabit
Good luck with your recuperation!
1. The subject of Slaanesh first came up when we were looking at the High Elves background and the Cult of Slaanesh. I had a long conversation with Rick Priestley and Alan Merrett, who expressed concerns that the worship of Slaanesh was not consistent with the rest of the Dark Elf approach to the gods. In a nutshell and without getting too metaphysical, it posed the question of why Dark Elves worship Slaanesh and at the same time also worship Khaine and not Khorne. There’s a never-ending debate about how the gods perceived by the Warhammer races are part of or separate from the Chaos Gods and this was encapsulated in the Khaine/ Khorne dichotomy. It seemed a far more plausible and characterful solution that while the Elves descended into debauchery and excess they would do so via their own pantheon of gods, just as Aenarion was a disciple of Khaine and not Khorne. This gave me the opportunity to explore the religious side of the Elves with more vigour, in particular expanding upon the classical Greek/ Roman approach to worship that the Elves beliefs are based upon. The idea that there are darker gods in the pantheon that all Elves accept, but only the Dark Elves pray to and give sacrifice to was a nice way to lead into the the idea of the ‘Dark’ Elves. This is something that is further explored in Malekith.
2. Most of Naggaroth lies under the influence of the Realm of Chaos, the so-called Shadowlands or Chaos Wastes. The new book explains in more detail how the cities of the Dark Elves were created, and the function they play in Dark Elf society. Each is a semi-independent state under the reign of the Witch King and would have its own subsidiary network of slave-worked farms, mines, port and so on. Bear in mind that at any given time, a large proportion of the Dark Elf populace has been at war and so off on the fleets or fighting on foreign shores, there is not much need for the traditional infrastructure of a nation in Naggaroth. I am sure there are small enclaves of Dark Elves in some of the more inhabitable regions of Naggaroth but these would be seen very much as the domain of yokels and the dispossessed. A good example are the Shades, who live in the mountains.
Finally a background question. How does Druchii marriages work? Are they all planned as part of political scheming or do Druchii (occasionally) marry for love?
I don’t think love as we understand it exists for the Dark Elves. Clearly there are bonds between certain Dark Elves that go beyond simple duty or fear, but one must remember that the Dark Elves have become so pernicious and self-centred that no Dark Elf is going to trust another Dark Elf in the way that we would equate to a conventional marriage. Mutual self-interest may breed a certain degree of loyalty and respect over many centuries, and there is some small measure of familial affection between parents and children, but if it ever comes down to the final crunch, every Dark Elf is out for himself or herself and ‘loved ones’ are as quickly sacrificed as complete strangers in the interest of survival or power.
Greetings from Greece. I’m very excited about the new book and truly believe an awesome job has been done. My only disappointment was about city garrison not making it in the new army book. Anyway I’d like to ask why Dark Elves, although the world’s best beastmasters, haven’t managed to tame the big Star Dragons as the High elves did? I was really hoping for such a dragon even if only for Malekith (Khaine bless him!!!).
The Black Dragons of the Dark Elves are descended from eggs stolen from the Caledorian highlands by Malekith’s agents over the millenia, raised to be cruel and vengeful beasts, warped by dark magic and cowed by the lashes and barbs of the Beastmasters. The Star Dragons are immense, ancient monsters from before the Time of Aenarion and can only be found in Caledor. Even if the Dark Elves somehow caught such a beast, it would be impossible to break to their will – the Dragonmasters of Caledor didn’t tame the Star Dragons, or any Dragons for that matter, they allied with them.
I’m still a little new to Druchii, even though I have played them for seven years. It’s mostly the background where I lack the knowledge.
What significance did it have for Morathi’s image in the eyes of the Dark Elves, as well as Malekith himself, that she allied herself with a Chaos god, in disrespect of Khaine, and travelled down through Naggaroth with a large army of Chaos worshippers, whom the Dark Elves for centuries have fought to keep them away from Naggaroth?
My other question is concerning older campaigns. Let’s take the Albion campaign as an example. The Dark Elves, High Elves and Dwarfs fought the best and got the treasures. And we cheered. But with the new army books, we can tell, that the treasures were for a limited time only. I’m not saying we should get the stupid gauntlet back, but is a part of GW’s internal agenda to consider past campaign achievements? It would be great to have some credit in the edition, for claiming parts of Albion’s treasure. Even if it’s only background wise
I think Morathi would have been rightly lauded for her stroke of genius. In subduing the Chaos hordes threatening Naggaroth and diverting them onto Ulthuan, she demonstrated one of the underelying beliefs (delusions?) of the Dark Elves – that they can control the power of Chaos for their own ends. Since the very beginning, the Naggarothi have claimed that they have the strength to meddle with the darkest powers and come out on top.
With regards to Dark Shadows and other campaigns, the answer is twofold. As I mentioned in a previous answer the brief was that the campaigns were to be treated as self-contained in terms of background. That said, had I the space for an extra item or two in the Magic Items section I could have included them and made a vague reference to the fact that they were won from the temples upon the rain-shrouded isle of Albion. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the space and doing so wasn’t a priority for me when choosing the magic items I would include.
If you were ever asked to bring the Dark Elf/High Elf saga to a conclusion what would you do? Would the Dark Elves succumb to their hubris or could they really master the Winds of Chaos and enslave the Chaos Gods (along with everybody else)?
Are there any plotlines that you considered following that you dismissed because they were too disruptive to the status quo?
I’d refuse to bring any kind of conclusion to the saga, and in truth I would never be asked to. The Warhammer world is a setting not an ongoing narrative. This means that the story is told up to a certain point and then things are left as they are as a backdrop for the players’ armies and battles. The Dark Elves do not exist in any kind of context other than ongoing conflict. Like all bad guys who want to ‘rule the world’ they cannot win without destroying that same world. If they were ever to reconquer Ulthuan then they would not be Dark Elves anymore, they would simply be nasty Elves, and quite frankly I don’t think they really would know what to do if they succeeded! In regard to the second part of the question, there wasn’t really any plot line like that for the reasons I’ve just explained. Throughout 6th edition I changed the presentation of the current Warhammer world from one where the ultimate battle for survival between the races wasn’t something that was going to happen, but was something that was occurring now – the End Times, the actual presence of Dark Elf armies on Ulthuan, Archaon’s attacks. This makes the wars more immediate and real, less of a theoretical struggle and more of a conflict that is going on right now. This was maintained, though somewhat toned down, with the current Dark Elves book.
Hi Gav (and hamster),
I’m not a native English speaker, so please forgive my mistakes. I used to work for Games Workshop France’s translation Studio (I am now translating BL novels, sadly, none of yours yet). I worked on the French version of the previous Dark Elves army book, and the thing that amazed me was the sheer violence of that society. Druchii, being Elves in the first place, are supposed to have a long life span, but how can they even reach the age of manhood (elfhood?), with all the wars (both internal and against the outer world), sacrifices, festivals of violence, celebrations of Khaine and so on ? With the “streets running red with blood” every two weeks? You can’t have so many slaves to play with, so how are they not all dead already?
Thanks a lot, Julien.
This is where the difference between setting and story comes into its own. The Dark Elves and their society are an image, created to convey a particular group of emotions and thoughts. As an image they are free from any logic, their nature sustained purely by the needs of narrative determinism and internal consistency. Consistency is not the same as logic, and if one explores the image in too much depth then it will fall apart, just as if one examines a painting one brush stroke at a time one misses the whole painting. Now, this creates a limit on the amount of detail and story that can be injected into any given race or army or event, other than within its own context. The Dark Elves society works (for want of a better term) because that is what the image requires. If one attempts to justify the exact mechanics of this process it threatens to obscure the image. If one explains away one part of the image, it simply invites further question and analysis that the image is not designed to sustain, so that the image is eventually rendered down into the mundane.
This is a tightrope that must be walked by all creators, so that the image still makes ‘sense’ enough to maintain a certain level of believability. Where such questions arise, it is often the case that the image is not strong enough on its own merits to ward away the inquiries. An image that maintains its purity and strength exists for itself and does not require further explanation.
Is it truly possible for a society to exist in the state described for the Dark Elves? Probably not. Does it matter? Absolutely not. The fact is, it is unimportant whether or not Dark Elves really would need to be butchers and bakers and candlestick makers. What attracts us is the notion that they don’t have these things. This is often described as the Rule of Cool, usually in some kind of derogatory fashion. It is in fact nothing more or less than poetic or literary license to imagine what such a society might look like, rather than to work out the complex mechanics required for it to exist in reality. That is the beauty of fantasy!
Oddly enough, I just finished reading Reaper of Souls last night and was astounded by the mayhem released on Hag Graef during the course of the novel and the same question posed by Julien floated through my mind. In that I know or I suppose BL thinks about these things deeply and I assume they vet all new posed elements to their world way in advance has there been any discussion as to population control? Further, can you give us any hints as to revelations about the society of the dark elves in your new novel–Malekith? And, how does that work, anyway? Does a committee present you with elements to be revealed in the novel or do you come up with ideas and present them to a committee to be vetted?
Best Regards as always,
The majority of Black Library publications add depth rather than breadth to the Warhammer universes. That is, they focus upon a small part of the world and burrow into more detail, adding defined characters and events to the images as laid out by the rulebooks and supplements. In this regard, it is up to the individual authors and editors to continue the consistency established by the setting, but any notion of particular detail being ‘correct’ or incorporated is erroneous. Just as every person who collects an army, paints a model or plays a game creates their very own slice of the Warhammer world or 40K universe – like an infinite array of the multiverse with one universe consistent for every player – each author also has their own sandpit to play in. This is where fans often get very hung up on the idea of canon, and the fact that there isn’t any. No one exploration of this depth is definitive nor prescriptive to future realisations of the image, just as the fact that Karl Franz was killed by an Orc bolt thrower in your last game doesn’t mean players can’t use them in subsequent battles…
Where coordination, planning and review are required is if BL (or anyone else for that matter) broadens the setting. This means that an image isn’t merely being explored, but created by the authors. The Horus Heresy series is a case in point, as is Time of Legends, although there are a few one-off series and novels that require similar treatment – Angels of Darkness explored new ground in this way, before the HH series was up and running. In this regard new images and consistencies – rules for want of a better term – are being introduced. Though the details may again be subject to individual interpretation, the images, atmosphere and style of the setting is being expanded (or in the case of HH created pretty much from scratch). Future works (and writers) are held accountable to these images and ‘truths’, so they must be recognised and deliberately assimilated into the presentation of the setting. In these circumstances, the BL editors, the writers and certain people from the GW ‘hobby’ division must agree upon the ground rules being laid down, with the ultimate arbiter being the Intellectual Property Manager. In practice this usually takes the shape of an informal process of discussion documents, conversations and meetings until everyone is happy they have the information – and the decisions – required for everyone to proceed.