The Dark Eldar need a constant source of emotion (normally pain) in order to prevent their souls being devoured by Slaneesh. The most common way that they get this is by raiding human worlds and capturing slaves, bringing them back to Commorragh and torturing them. However this brings with it a risk of the Dark Eldar dying after all even a measly human with a Lasgun is still a person with a Lasgun. Wouldn't it be easier just to breed humans on site? Please note I am not talking about tube grown humans here, I am talking about humans that are bred the normal way just within facilities in Commorragh or an uninhabited world accessed by the webway.

I don't think food would be a major concern for the Dark Eldar being as they are the second most advanced biologists in the galaxy I suspect they can make a hydroponics bay. It would also allow the Dark Eldar to specially breed/condition slaves to be more susceptible to their torture.

The out-of-universe answer of course is that it would be boring if the Imperium didn't have to contend with the Dark Eldar raids but what about in universe?

  • 7
    I am a dad... I suspect the crying and dirty diapers would not be worth it in the end to them...
    – Odin1806
    Mar 6, 2018 at 21:17
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    @Odin1806 Needs a constant source of emotion. Pretty certain all the crying and dirty diapers fits the bill completely.
    – Luke
    Mar 7, 2018 at 2:04
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    haha, counterpoint taken!
    – Odin1806
    Mar 7, 2018 at 4:17
  • Why work when you can steal?
    – EvilSnack
    Mar 15, 2018 at 3:54
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    Once word gets out that the Dark Eldar have gone soft, it's nothing but work,work,work, all the time
    – Paul
    Aug 3, 2018 at 20:31

3 Answers 3


You have to understand few things about Dark Eldars:

  1. They are extremely arrogant - they see themselves (as a race and as individuals) as something absolutely perfect, that whole universe should bow to.
  2. They thrive on emotions, not only pain - pain is simply a very strong emotion that is easy to produce in large quantities, but so is the thrill of the hunt.

Combining those two points: Torturing their human victims is just part of the fun! They got kicks from the whole process of capturing them, from the thrill of fight where they can get killed themselves - "it is impossible that this animal can hurt me... but even if he will, what exquisite feeling it will be!"

Farming humans would make it... dull. Yes, you can make them scream as long as you want, but there is simply no fun if they are readily available, if they offer no resistance, no chance to show your own superiority.

  • I don't suppose that means there's any chance of the dark eldar doing a monsters inc and becoming comedians is there?
    – Ummdustry
    May 31, 2018 at 9:47
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    @Ummdustry that's where Harlequins come in. :)
    – Paul
    Aug 3, 2018 at 20:32

Because free-range Humans are just so much tastier than factory-farmed...

If Humans are bred amongst the Dark Eldar and on their worlds, they will eventually become 'domesticated' and grow accustomed to what the Eldar are doing to them, thus producing no more emotion than the Dark Eldar could if they tortured themselves.

Breeding them to be susceptible to torture probably won't work. The Humans that are good torture subjects are also bad at handling the torture, and thus are more likely to die before passing on their torture-ific genes. So, those that survive well will have children who also have a chance of being better at surviving torture themselves, and be more 'tameable' for having grown up in such an environment. These adorable foxes showed that domestication can occur in as few as 6 generations, or about 100-150 years for humans. So, after about 125 years your Human stock will be no better than torturing Dark Eldar, which means you'd have to go raiding anyway.

Additionally, Humans born on a Human world would have so much more to miss than a Human born and raised in captivity. Family, friends, goals, dreams... all of that exists in a free-range Human but not a farmed Human. So, captured Humans would have much stronger emotions to manipulate than farmed humans who have never known the 'real' world.

I suppose the Dark Eldar could set up long-term breeding on entire worlds, i.e. release some Humans who didn't know about the torture, let them grow up happy and healthy, then occasionally raid them for fresh subjects.

However, where's the fun in that? It'd be like going on a hunting trip at a zoo. Raiding produces violence, suffering, hate, etc., all of which the Dark Eldar love. Having a Human farm would just ruin the fun.

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    Why would farmed humans that cope with torture better have more offspring, if the farmers are in control of which of their livestock are permitted to breed?
    – Ben
    Mar 6, 2018 at 23:20
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    @Ben: I suppose it would be better to say that good torture subjects are more likely to accidentally die before having the opportunity to breed. So, I guess it's not that bad livestock will breed more, rather good livestock will breed less.
    – Giter
    Mar 6, 2018 at 23:43
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    I think that's still quite an assumption. If the aim is to extract pain, you can't do from a corpse, so you'd be trying to breed humans who feel pain very strongly but are actually quite resilient. You could also breed them while they're healthy, then torture them, but still keep track of which genetic lines were producing the best victims, without needing individuals to be capable of having many offspring after you've seen how well they respond to torture. There are lots more ways to manage artificial selection than just "inflict an environment and let natural selection do its thing".
    – Ben
    Mar 7, 2018 at 0:14
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    Pretty certain your last bit just described the movie/series Stargate
    – Luke
    Mar 7, 2018 at 2:06

The other answers are good and show the problems with home-grown humans.

In addition, we can consider the structure of the Dark Eldar society. Globally, trust is a concept foreign to Dark Eldar culture. A Dark Eldar will be loyal to another Dark Eldar as long as he fears them, or has an interest in helping. There are a few exceptions (Incubi will be loyal to their Archon, the Cults of gladiators have probably some form of loyalty to their leader,...) but what prevails for most Dark Eldar is his/her self-interest.

Dark Eldar are certainly frail to human standards, but they are fast, agile, stealth, and have a way better technology so a Dark Eldar "dying because of a measly human with a lasgun" would certainly have deserved it in the view of other Dark Eldar. And no Dark Eldar would avoid a raid and take the risk to be seen as a weakling and a coward. He would instantly become a prey. Think about criminal organizations or band of pirates work.

Also, common interest does not exist in Commoragh. It is impossible to imagine a global human farm that would feed all the "community" with fear, pain and other emotions. Each Kabal would have its own farm. Soon, instead (or in addition to) raiding human worlds, Dark Eldar would raid other Kabals' farms. Civil war in Comorragh!

To finish, here is my personal idea on the topic: remember that though the Webway (where Commoragh is located) is isolated from the Warp, it does not look exactly like the physical world. The Horus Heresy book The Master of Mankind describes the strange architecture of a city in the Webway. I believe that humans in Commoragh would quickly lose any sanity and be of no interest for Dark Eldar.

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