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 Couple of Eldar/Dark Eldar theories: Cloning and Birth Rate

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Ynneadwraith
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PostSubject: Couple of Eldar/Dark Eldar theories: Cloning and Birth Rate   Sun Oct 23 2016, 12:43

These two theories come from the idea that souls are made of the stuff of the Empyrean, and are necessary for proper life to function. This is supported by the common depiction of souls 'returning' to the warp after death, implying that that's where they came from in the first place.

Theory 1: Cloning
I remember reading somewhere that the pact Dark Eldar make with the Haemonculi is that in exchange for regeneration, the Haemonculus skims a sliver of your soul off the top as payment.

My theory is that these slivers of soul are used by Haemonculi to imbue their clones with life, attaching them to cloned bodies in the great racks of vats they keep beneath the Dark City where they will mature into a soul for the body within.

This would help explain why the Craftworlders don't use cloning as it's a pretty horrific process if the above is true. It would also help explain why it's the method used by the Dark Eldar. As they're cut off from the warp hiding in the webway, they would also be cut off from the source for new souls for their newborns. After all, everything the Dark Eldar have developed has been developed out of necessity (and then brought to extremes by culture). It would make sense that cloning was too.

Theory 2: Birth Rate
If the assumption is made that a small fragment of the empyrean (a soul) is needed for a new life to be created, it would make sense that the 'Eldar birth-rate problem' is a post-fall phenomenon.

Prior to the fall, new Eldar life would be free to coalesce into souls in the warp, as safe from predation as any other race. As Eldar souls retain cohesion after death, they would also be free to siphon themselves into a newborn to 'reincarnate', as per Eldar myth.

After the fall, I'd imagine that anything that looks vaguely Eldar-like in the warp would attract the attention of Slaanesh. Thus, any newly coalescing Eldar souls would have to be phenomenally lucky to escape her gaze, making it harder to create new life. Plus, there's no pre-existing Eldar souls loitering around in the warp waiting for a suitably blood-related relative to reincarnate into.

Following this through to its conclusion is where it gets properly grimdark, and apologies if this strikes any chords with some people.

This would not necessarily result in the Eldar birthrate being any lower than it was pre-Fall. What it would do is drastically increase the frequency of stillbirths.

For me, this adds a real extra note of tragedy to the Eldar plight. The majority of the souls of their people are devoured before they're even born, and attempting to have a child for any Eldar is frequently heartbreaking.

It would also explain how a race that was forged specifically for warfare*, was populous enough after the War in Heaven to found a galaxy-ruling empire, and has a total galaxy-wide population on the billions if not more, is in terminal population decline.

*If the Old Ones intended the Eldar to be used in war with the effectively numberless Necrons, attrition rate would have been a significant concern.

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Aroshamash
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PostSubject: Re: Couple of Eldar/Dark Eldar theories: Cloning and Birth Rate   Wed Nov 02 2016, 13:12

You've gotten a bit confused with the "cloning" bit. The part of the soul the Haemonculi take isn't payment, it's the "seed" they use to grow you back. The soul-portion is split off, and is able to linger, attached to the body-part, which is then able to be regenerated in the same way all Dark Eldar souls are "fixed", until you've got a new copy of the soul grown from a portion of the "original". The body regrows with the soul, and voila, you've been respawned!

In regards to a newborn needing access to the Warp to get a soul, it's an interesting concept, but I'm not sure how much sense it makes. After all, a soul isn't a requirement for life in 40k, given Pariahs/Nulls exist. Also, surely if this were true it would dramatically affect every race, as humans don't exactly have impressive defences for their souls, so theirs should be just as high, and neither do the Tau, etc.

However, there are Eldar myths of the Banshee, that sometimes when a Craftworlder dies, other Eldar will hear the "Banshee's Scream", and the soul of the dying Eldar won't reach the spirit-stone, but rather seems to be stolen. This does lend credence that there's something trying to steal their souls at all times, which could potentially happen before birth as well, although I don't believe there's any mention of the Banshee 'visiting' an Eldar that's not literally just about to die. It's certainly an interesting theory.

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Ynneadwraith
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PostSubject: Re: Couple of Eldar/Dark Eldar theories: Cloning and Birth Rate   Wed Nov 02 2016, 14:51

Ah I see. That makes sense with the whole regeneration thing, with Dark Eldar souls able to cling onto body parts for a while til they get regenerated (or, in this case, a portion of soul left hanging onto a part of you left with the Haemy).

As far as needing a soul for life goes, it does seem like it isn't a requirement given pariahs/nulls. However, they're certainly in the minority, and I haven't heard of any Eldar nulls.

Regards the other races, it could be that their souls simply aren't juicy enough before birth to garner much attention, whereas any hint of an Eldar soul in the warp brings Slaanesh's attention. However, there's a lot of theorising there with little evidence from the fluff. It could well be true, but it could just as easily not be.

However, from some discussion on Dakka we came up with some more ideas centering around reincarnation that would prodice the same phenomenon. If the Eldar have adapted/evolved to take into account of the fact that the souls of their dead will be able to reincarnate, losing that ability would have a dramatic effect on their birthrate. How grimdark you want to go with that is up to you...

I hadn't heard that level of detail about the banshee myths in the Eldar, only that they were Morai-Heg's daughters giften to Khaine. Very interesting Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Couple of Eldar/Dark Eldar theories: Cloning and Birth Rate   Wed Nov 02 2016, 20:14

I always assumed that the low birth rate among CWE had to do with how hard spirit stones are to obtain in large numbers. For them, to expand their population beyond their capacity to obtain protection for the children's souls would make it pointless as they degenerated into parched or be required to take up practices along the lines of the Dark Eldar and more "despicable" (to CWE) corsairs. So I viewed it as self regulation on births more than inability to conceive.
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PostSubject: Re: Couple of Eldar/Dark Eldar theories: Cloning and Birth Rate   Sat Nov 05 2016, 16:48

I actually think the big part of the Eldar population problem is a combination of long birth process, and long maturation process. With their very long lives of 10k years, it's possible that an Eldar doesn't mentally mature for a thousand years or something.

As for why Eldar don't engage in the practice of cloning that dark eldar use...DE are actually portrayed as being more technologically advanced than craftworld eldar. CWE have been psychic for millenia, where they were basically able to conjure things they needed out of nothing, or heal one another through psychic powers. So much of the typical medical and scientific infrastructure in such an advanced society simply isn't there, because it's never been NEEDED. Even the craftworlds that they live on were created using a combination of psychic powers to grow wraithbone and such.

When the DE living in the webway had to abandon their psychic prowess to avoid the attention of she who thirsts, they were forced to come up with new ways to accomplish all of the things they used to accomplish with psychic powers. Thus was born the Haemonculous, that is basically a catch-all for really smart dark eldar. They seem, from what I've read, to fill roles from doctors, to scientists, to architects.

The most recent DE codex failed to reproduce a lot of the fluff surrounding various things in the books. The most recent codex has a short description of Haemonculi that basically makes them sound solely like fleshcrafters, but that really doesn't do them justice when compared to their previously established fluff.

In the last codex, all of the "Arcane wargear" was attributed to have been inventions of the haemonculi, and the codex in general made more of an effort to expound upon the scientific research role of the Haemonculi in dark eldar culture. In essence, Haemonculi are the designers/researchers of DE technology. And even other dark eldar can't reproduce the regeneration methods of the Haemonculi, so it's not that far-fetched to think that Craftworld Eldar simply don't have the cloning tech available to them, and due to the shortage of soul crystals, obtaining it isn't exactly a priority.
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PostSubject: Re: Couple of Eldar/Dark Eldar theories: Cloning and Birth Rate   Sat Nov 05 2016, 17:16

Don't forget that when the CWE abandoned the Empire they didn't take all the technology with them and a lot of it was lost (not sure exactly why they didn't have data storage devices filled with their advanced sciences and schematics). The Dark Eldar still use some of that technology adapted to non-wraithbone technology. I think it was in the 4th Edition "Eldar" codex under the fall that mentions that the Eldar Empire had technology that far surpasses what we see today being used by the different groups of Eldar and that it was no real feat for them to rebuild bodies and fuse souls back to them, a technology that the Dark Eldar seem to have maintained.

So my take on it is that the Dark Eldar maintained cloning and regrowing with soul fusing technology while the CWE in their haste to escape as refugees from the depravity of their kin left the technology behind and no longer have the science to replicate it at this point. As for the Harlequins we don't really know how much of the Empire's technology they still have, so it is possible that they still maintain these technologies for their own uses but don't the other Eldar know.

Though I really have no idea why it is that the Dark Eldar don't have all that tech in some library somewhere unless it is because the people who formed the webway subrealms didn't care enough about anything that didn't have to do with their particular kinks or projects.


Last edited by CurstAlchemist on Sat Nov 05 2016, 17:43; edited 1 time in total
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BetrayTheWorld
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PostSubject: Re: Couple of Eldar/Dark Eldar theories: Cloning and Birth Rate   Sat Nov 05 2016, 17:30

Cool. Thanks for the info. I haven't read any Eldar books prior to 5th edition, so I didn't see that 4th ed stuff. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Couple of Eldar/Dark Eldar theories: Cloning and Birth Rate   Sun Nov 06 2016, 11:42

Very interesting points Smile the eldar birth rate being partly cultural would also hold a lot of water, although i feel my explanation has a twist of added grimdark Wink

My issue with the official explanation that it takes a long time to make an eldar and that's why they're struggling is that the eldar were created to be a warrior race on a galactic-scale conflict, taking into account the high attrition rate that would mean. Plus, the Eldar were able to forge a galaxy-wide empire in the aftermath of the War in Heaven, on the backdrop of unchecked Ork populations and other horrors we know only in name (Hresh-Selain and Autochtinii are two). Doing that with a criplingly low birthrate would be very difficult.

I do also love the idea that the Eldar of today are missing the vast majority of their technological expertise. Either they were forced to flee and leave it all behind, or it's all strongly psychically based and they can only use the most basic of mechanisms and substances without attracting She-Who-Thirsts.

I can see that liniting Commoragh as well as the Craftworlds, and forcing both of them to develop new technologies in order to survive.

Also, i wholly agree that the Dark Eldar are more advanced technologically than the Craftworld Eldar although possibly lack the manufacturing capabilities of Craftworlders, given the lack of heavier warmachines in the Dark eldar arsenal). Man-portable darklight weaponry as opposed to the platform based brightlances of craftworlders is an example of this.

Interesting little idea that the reincarnation that eldar myth says they were able to do might have been technological in basis rather than biological, and the dark eldar having retained this fragment of technology in the regeneration chambers and cloning.

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