Pull up a chair there, young bloods, wonder how come only the Grey Knights still get terror bottled in grenade form, and welcome back to Old Archon Discusses… wherein I reminisce about the mysteries of the Dark Eldar because so few of you are old enough to remember us from back in our ancient birth in...3rd edition.
Tonight Old Archon is going to discuss...The Torturer’s Tale!
Is he the true Dark Eldar lore master?
I hear people talk about Phil so much as our spiritual liege and how we shall bow down and pray that he writes our next codex and yadda yadda.
That said…in all honesty…if I had my choice…
I’d go with Gav Thorpe, a man perhaps mostly remembered for messing up the Vampire Counts and Chaos codices.
Dark Eldar have always had one thing that separates us from most armies, and that is our fluff.
In the 40k universe there are many great mysteries. The ancient dragon buried beneath Mars, Tarzyn’s little photo, what knight in silver knelt before She Who Thirsts, what the goal of the Harlequins is. Mysteries cloaked in shadows and shaped by the empty spaces around them, these are some of the greatest mysteries of the game and, perhaps, it is these mysteries that draw us all to the game like moths to a flame.
But, no race, no organization, is quite so shrouded in mystery as 3rd Edition Dark Eldar.
Not a mystery of a secret vault.
Not a mystery of why a battle was fought.
Not a mystery of if an assassin actually killed our primarch.
No…DE were a mystery because…well…GW just didn’t publish any fluff about us.
Yeah, pretty much the fluff from the first codex could have fit in one of our thongs. Even moving forward to the modern codex, the fluff is exceedingly thin and light, but it is far heavier than in the old days.
And it’s all based on one story, really.
A Gav Thorpe story.*THE* Dark Eldar story.
Back in the old days there were little suggestions of what was going down. The DE looked “almost panicked” as they slew people. “Running about with an inner desperation” There was an awareness that they wanted slaves, and that they chose to feast on souls. But there was never really an answer as to “why?”
I mean, they are Eldar, and evil, and seem to have something haunting and hunting them, but why? What’s going on?
Add on to that ol’ Asdrubael, it was sort of established by that point that he was THE MAN in Commoragh, but there wasn’t a lot of clarity of “The Man…of what?” and certainly not “how he became, ‘The Man’ of whatever he was manning over”
Not until Gav wrote the above story, and Vect became pure awesome.
With one story Gav gave us a look into the heart of Commoragh, and potentially the birth of the Eldarith Ynneas themselves.
With one story he explained the Thirst and what it was that the Dark Eldar fought against.
And, with one story, he allowed Vect to toy with us and suggest that maybe he was just telling it to screw with a slave’s head because…hey…he’s Vect.
Also, with one story, and one final sentence, he literally summed up WHAT THE DARK ELDAR ARE ABOUT. Yeah, you can tell me whatever you want, but I know, and the other old Archons know, and deep in your heart you know it too – the final line of Torturer’s Tale is what it’s *really* about. That *IS* the motivation of the Dark Eldar. Gav “got” it and he got it good and hard and full in the face.
The story was so good that it became instant obsessed fanon, and with the revised edition of the DE codex aspects of it were worked into the book, and ol’ Vect took proper and central stage. So strong were the story elements there, that even moving forward to Mr. Kelly’s codex, you can still see the effects of Torturer’s Tale, and Kelly even hints at aspects of it being true to lend strength to its narrative under the new Dex.
But…somehow, people still think Phil Kelly is the man.
I mean, do they have a point? Let’s consider…Gav Thorpe – reasons he rules for codices
I would say his 3rd Edition Space Wolves codex was excellent. Flavorful, interesting, and a solid contender list.
He is also responsible for the 3rd Edition Eldar and Daemonhunters codices – you find me someone who hates those and I’ll find you someone with no joy in their heart.
He also had a hand in Imperial Armor II…wanna guess what Imperial Armor book finally started to admit DE existed? …yeah.
He also worked on INDEX ASTARTES! And if you don’t like that…you and I are no longer friends.Phil Kelly – reasons he rules for codices
Codex Dark Eldar (5th edition) is generally accredited as one of the most well balanced codices out there, and is just a beautiful work.
He also worked on Daemonhunters 3rd edition.
And Witch Hunters 3rd Edition…possibly one of the best codices ever, he also did up the original soulless Necrons of 3rd edition and established the entire ‘War in Heaven’ fluff which is, y’know, kind of the core basis of our knowledge about pre-Emprah 40k.
He also did the 4th Edition of Tyranids, aka the last good edition for them.Gav Thorpe – reasons he rules for fluff
He wrote the ‘Path of’ series for the Eldar. Now, it’s not the most brilliant writing in the land, but it is probably the seminal and finest work for ‘non human/Mehreenz fluff’ in 40k.Phil Kelly – reasons he rules for fluff
…he has written one short story, it may or may not be good, I don’t know. It’s about Sphees Mehreenz!Gav Thorpe – reasons he sucks
…have any of you ever read ‘The Last Chancers’ series? Let me just assure you it starts out kind of interesting, then accelerates into bewildering, and comes to a screeching and slamming halt at dreadful dreck.
He also wrote up the 4th Edition CSM codex…aka ‘the worst CSM codex ever’
Also, I don’t know if any of you are following this little thing known as the Horus Heresy – but allow me to say, anything you’ve read with Raven Guard as the main characters? Gav wrote that. I don’t know about the rest of you, but that isn’t a ringing endorsement for me.Phil Kelly – reasons he sucks
Well…he did write ‘The Wolf codex of wolves on wolves wherein the wolf lord with mark of the wolf mounts his wolf guard on a thunder wolf with his wolf talisman and wolf claws, wolf, wolf, wolf.’ Seriously Phil?
He also wrote the 6th edition CSM dex – which means he looked at the Heldrake and said ‘balanced cost!’ at some point.
He also wrote 6th Edition Eldar, which means he did the same thing for Wave Serpents.
What are the two most broken units ruining the game right now?
Pros and cons on both sides, but I think the evidence is also there. For whatever his failings, I do feel from a fluff standpoint that Mr. Thorpe is the one that really gets Dark Eldar.
He made Asdrubael a focused and mysterious villain, who had lived through the millennia and enjoyed toying with people ‘because’.
Phil made him the guy who had to have Sphess Mehreenz come in to help him take power…and also maybe had those self-same Mehreenz win in a brawl vs. Commoragh. Not a given Kabal, but Commoragh itself. Meh.
Gav gave us the creatures who thirst, and maddened Haemonculi tortures.
Phil gave us the question of if Reavers are part of a Cult, or Kabal, or their own thing…and had contradictions in his own book about it.
Both have written codices that were good and bad.
Only one has written a piece of fluff that the fans clamored for (and still do) to be made explicitly canon.
And only one has shown continual respect and fan devotion to the ideal of Vect and the Dark Eldar.
I feel like the other is a more casual fan.
So when people say who they dream of writing our next Codex, and I realize that, especially with current output, that Phil Is not exactly the ‘balance king’ like he once was I find myself thinking…what about Gav? No matter the rules or models, he’ll give us some killer fluff, and we have a fair chance to get a good codex in the mix as well.
The Torturer’s Tale.
Old Archon remembers...