Daughters of Khaine
Grand Alliance Order
Daughters of Khaine
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"She could never take an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. The weak and flaccid parity would make her nearly puke. She wants an eye for a tooth, and a life for an eye."
- – Helen Zahavi - Dirty Weekend
"Let's show the gutless pigs how the warriors of Pah-Dishah can fight! By Tarim, we'll give the devils scarlet wine to drink this dawn..."
- – Red Sonja
The Daughters of Khaine are a nation of aelves (though closer to a collection of scattered religious communes than a nation) led by Morathi who combine the Khainite religion with shadow magic.
They are an army, with a few exceptions, of armed aelven women and monstergirls in bikinis. As they worship Khaine, to them the clash of arms is the height of their religion, holy rites practiced and perfected with all the high-level skill and grace of aelf-kind. As blades flash, they shed their visage of cold and distant beauty, how they tend to be when not in battle, their ecstatic faces lighting up with each fresh kill. In contrast to even other aelves, especially the Idoneth Deepkin, many Daughters of Khaine have lived far beyond the average aelf lifespan, which is already longer than that of other races (except the males - see below).
Age of Myth
Being a theocracy founded by Morathi and given her character, Morathi is behind or involved in every pivotal moment of the Daughters of Khaine in history. After leaving the Great Alliance because Nagash outed her true monstrous form, Morathi sought to establish her own dwellings in Ulgu. Her son Malerion cruelly rejected her suggestion of splitting the rule of the thirteen Dominions, for he claimed of all Ulgu as his own. Morathi persisted until, as either a joke or a plot to get rid of her, Malerion granted his mother a small parcel of land in the middle of the Umbral Veil. This was the darkest and most impenetrable region in all Ulgu, so dangerous that only Malerion himself had ever returned from those cloying mists with their sanity intact. Morathi went there and exceeded her son's expectations. She bent the shadows into a protective shroud around her new land and led settlers there.
Her only followers were the aelven witch-cults that had maintained their worship of Khaine. While Morathi knew Khaine was dead, since the blood rituals no longer rejuvenated her, she supported the religion to get people to help her. To ensure their loyalty, Morathi built a temple to Khaine, naming it Hagg Nar, and over time a city grew up around it. Morathi taught them the secrets of navigating the murky currents. Hagg Nar began as a pitiful kingdom, and Morathi brooded over her mean existence.
As she sought power, she soon found a hint of Khaine's power in her dreams while scrying. Though Khaine was dead, she knew the elven gods were cyclial and could be reborn given enough power. Morathi began a secret quest that was long and difficult, but eventually brought her to the literal heart of Khaine himself. The heart was intact and throbbing with resurgent power, but it was guarded by Kharbytr, the godbeast father of Kharibdysses. Morathi suspected Kharbytr would be resistant to sorcery, and was despearte to claim the heart before anyone else could, so she used seduction instead (yes, really), but angered Kharbytr when she tried to grab the heart. The fight between them was an epic clash that lasted thirteen days and ended when Morathi constricted Kharbytr in her coils. The godbeast dealt her a lethal blow before losing consciousness, but Morathi survived by drawing energies from Khaine's heart to sustain herself.
Heading back to Hagg Nar with her prize, Morathi declared herself Khaine's High Oracle, claiming that she spoke for the god of murder and that she was his voice in this world. With that she solidified her hold over the Khainites and reshaped the society into the Daughters of Khaine. The Daughters of Khaine would often be sent out to hunt for fragments of their missing deity on Morathi's orders (unbeknownst to them, these were snipe hunts for the most part).
She continued this way for a time until Malerion arrived. He said that he and the other aelf gods had had, at last, found the lost aelf-souls from the world-that-was, and they needed her shadow magic and knowledge of Slaanesh in their grand plan. For the first and only time, Morathi spoke of the unspeakable horrors inside Slaanesh and how she'd escaped. Using this knowledge and themselves as bait, the four lured Slaanesh into a trap and started extracting elven souls from the deity.
For her role, Morathi was allowed to take souls for herself to shape into elves, who went into swelling the numbers of the Daughters of Khaine. However, some of them had been altered by their time with Slaanesh. There were those with serpentine mutations akin to Morathi, these became the Melusae. Others had bat-like wings and long tails, these became the Khinerai. Around this time Morathi reintroduced the Cauldrons of Blood and created the Mathcoir, the master cauldron, in Hagg Nar. Secretly, she made it as a repository of power only she could access. To start this, Morathi cursed every male born to the Daughters of Khaine to have part of their soul siphoned away and stored in the Mathcoir.
Unbeknownst to her erstwhile allies, Morathi had added her own deceptive magics to the undertaking, so that the soul division was skewed slightly out of the agreed proportions, with extra spirits siphoned to Hagg Nar. This subterfuge was subtle, but slowly, inevitably, altered the eldritch balance that kept the Dark Prince perfectly imprisoned between Hysh and Ulgu.
Age of Chaos
As Chaos invaded the Mortal Realms, the Daughters of Khaine marched out from Hagg Nar to ambush them, using shadowshifting magics to reach Realmgates to travel anywhere the forces of Order needed them. Although Morathi and her followers weren't liked, beggars could not be choosers and they were one of the few allies the Sigmarites had during this time. To keep the more mutated members of her coven secret, the spellcasters and priestesses of the Khainites used shadow glamors to make them look like ordinary elves (how this worked when the Khinerai were flying is anybody's guess).
The Daughters of Khaine were bold and fearless in battle - willing to cross blades with any enemy, no matter how numerous or monstrous. Despite heroics by Khainite forces at many battles, the forces of Order were on the backfoot, the final retreat happening after Nagash betrayed Sigmar at the Battle of Burning Skies.
As the Chaos invasions set about their task of destroying and enslaving entire civilisations, the Shadowlands of Ulgu suffered the least after Azyr. Khorne, Nurgle and Tzeentch all devoted the greater portion of their forces to different realms, the minions that were sent into Ulgu boasted none of the most fearful greater daemon commanders and Malerion himself sent Archaon packing with his tail between his legs. This gave the Daughters of Khaine plenty of time to prey on the Chaos forces that made it to their realm; reavers of Khorne, magic-seeking conclaves of Tzeentch or followers of Slaanesh tracking calls from their god that only they could sense. They reaped a large harvest of Chaos minions, leaving mass graves from all the sacrifices (this would come back to haunt them - pun intended - in the Soul Wars, see below).
But Morathi's trickery with the soul extraction came back to bite her. Taking too many souls caused Slaanesh's prison to drift towards Ulgu and weaken it. This enabled Slaanesh's most faithful servants catch the scent of their missing god/dess. More and more Slaaneshi armies penetrated the Shadowlands searching for their lost god. So began what the aelves of Ulgu named the Cathtrar Dhule - the War of Shadows.
For the major battles of the War of Shadows, Morathi led the Daughters of Khaine from the front. She cast down the Keeper of Secrets Glittus and his Legion of Excess, and the whip-handed Krulla Sha'vhr and her Flayerhost. Battle was not her only recourse, however, for against the unbeatable six warhosts of the betentacled Bovaxx the Despoiler, Morathi's coven of Medusae summoned a gaiste-maze - a shadow labyrinth that still covers part of the Umbral Veil, a dark cloud in which those hordes presumably still wander.
Yet the Daughters of Khaine did not win every battle. As larger and more-powerful armies invaded, Morathi called the first of the Caillich Covens - the gathering of forces from all the sects. This was required to defeat Luxcious, a Keeper of Secrets so powerful that many Slaaneshi considered her a replacement for the missing Dark Prince. The daemon was defeated, but not until after the exalted fiend destroyed the Temple of Druchxar.
Age of Sigmar
Luxcious may well have continued her scouring search of Ulgu had Sigmar not begun his war to reclaim the Mortal Realms, drawing off many Chaos forces. The Cathtrar Dhule paused, before once more erupting anew in the bitterly fought War of the Shadowpaths.
The Daughters of Khaine win more allies during this time, for despite their brutality in battle (and occasional team-killing among their allies) they're just that good at kicking Chaos. The Stormcast, Idoneth and Sylvaneth to name a few ally with the Daughters of Khaine.
During this time, some elves start to worship Morathi alongside Khaine, which causes dissent (an uncommon case of a heresy charge in a warhammer setting that fits the actual definition). Ironically, those who disapprove get quickly silenced by Morathi or the Medusae as heretics (usually by a knife in the vitals or getting turned into living crystal by a Melusai).
Prior to the Soul Wars there are increasing build-ups of death magic. Whenever there is a large gathering of Scathborn, the spirits of the dead rise up and attack them. Also, remember those mass graves full of sacrificed Chaos worshippers? Now they're fodder for armies of vengeful skeleton warriors and/or ghosts seeking vengeance against the Khainites. When Nagash sent vampires and necromancers into Ulgu as a diversion tactic, they were all too happy to exploit these mass graves for armies.
The Daughters of Khaine were also called on by the forces of Order in other realms to help fight off the increasing undead attacks. Morathi herself extolled the Daughters of Khaine to greater zeal, for she remembers the taste of Nagash's pimp hand and is eager to avenge the slight.
The Daughters of Khaine worked with Scourge privateers to get information about the Idoneth Deepkin the same way as their kin in the World-That-Was; lots of torture and mind-invading magic. From this they learn the location of a valued Deepkin artifact, the Ocarian Lantern; made by - and stolen from - Teclis, it acted as a lure for souls. Morathi sent sixty of her best soldiers to get it from its heavily guarded underwater temple; two survived, one as an Idoneth prisoner and the other returned to Morathi with the lantern.
She fused with Khaine's heart and became the goddess Morathi-Khaine. Thus Khaine as he was is gone forever, and Morathi - now Morathi-Khaine - is their goddess instead of just their High Oracle (albeit now split into two bodies, Morathi-Khaine and the Shadow Queen after her hubby's soul took exception to Morathi's plan while in Slaanesh).
Morathi's first action was to broker an alliance with the Idoneth Deepkin, offering Volturnos the souls of his fellow Cythai elves to sweeten the deal. She then ended her alliance with Sigmar by launching a coup that brought Anvilgard under her rule and renaming it Har Kuron. The Daughters of Khaine/Morathi-Khaine now fight with a newfound zeal as they launched a
crusade jihad holy war to expand Morathi's empire. When Sigmar found out, he sent a Stormcast army to re-take Har Kuron, the fighting raging until the Celestant-Prime arrived and offered to parley with Morathi. The two disappear for a night, and when they returned an agreement had been reached. Morathi was allowed to keep the city, and what she promised in return is unknown. Following her ascension, Morathi also began slowly re-writing the Daughters' scriptures and records of history, plus remodeling their religious iconography, to put herself at the center of everything.
Morathi subsequently led her forces in alliance with a group of Scourge Privateers to help lift the siege at Excelcius, which was close to being overrun by Gordrakk Waaagh. With her Shadowqueen form at the forefront Morathi and her army did well in pushing back the forces of destruction in the city, with her Shadowqueen form having little trouble taking out lowly Orruks. That was until she came face-to-face with Kragnos himself. The earthquake god had made common cause with Gordrakk and attacked her Shadow queen form head on. Morathi-Khaine managed to track down lord Kroak who had also arrived to defend the city and proposed that they needed to divert Kragno's from the city before he killed them all, as he was far too powerful for either of them too defeat. Just as Kragnos was preparing to finish Morathi off, they managed to lure Kragnos through a portal and led him away from the city. The destruction army subsequently dispersing after a lengthy battle.
Following the battle, Morathi was put on trail, overseen by the Celestant-Prime himself on Sigmar's behalf. She was a little annoyed Sigmar himself was not present (and the not so subtle implication that it meant dealing with her was beneath his time). Morathi was charged with treason for her coup in Anvilgard. She defended her actions as the as Anvilgard was technically never Sigmar's alone, and that the city prior to her annexation was barely staying alive to begin with and would have fallen eventually, now under her rule it will survive outside Chaos control. When the Celestant-Prime rejected this, Morathi retorted that as a god she wasn't answerable to Sigmar. At this, winged Stormcast sprung from ambush and the Celestant-Prime took up Ghal-Maraz and was about to sentence Morathi to death before Grungni entered the room. He announced his prescence by calling for clemency for Morathi before joining them. He beseeched both sides to put away their bitterness and pride and realize they were fighting for the Realms very survival, not simply trivial things like land or cities or petty pride. Though Morathi did not appreciate Grungni's condescending tone she agreed with his proposals and both she and Celestant-Prime agreed to stand down.
Era of the Beast
Following this, the tentative alliance between Morathi and Sigmar was maintained, though with much more animosity than before. Morathi was allowed to retain control of Anvilgard for the moment as Sigmar could ill afford another battlefront opening in Aqusy with the forces of destruction rising and as a show of good faith she released all the Stormcast Eternals prisoners unharmed from imprisonment (while also secretly having a look at their stormforged creation as well), in addition any citizens of the former Anvilgard were permitted to leave to any nearby Sigmarite strongholds should they so desire. Unfortunately only few of the citizenry were strong enough following the siege and drop in supplies after the war to make the long journey out of Har Kuron, and besides many of the poorer citizens had really no where else to go as their homes/livlihoods had always been in the city. So many still decided to take their chances with their new overlords.
While the Daughters of Khaines rulership of the new city is tyrannical and harsh for her part Morathi does not want to simply dominate her new subjects but hopes to win converts to her cause. With free battle spectacles to appease the masses and Hag Queens sending out sermons to the people of Morathi's divinity. However cracks are beginning to form in her rule. Many of Anvilgard's original population did not survive the original coup, and of the survivors many were Sigmar loyalists, even among their former Scourge Privateer allies. That, combined with the Daughters and their Idoneth allies continuing to purge the surrounding countryside and coastal regions of dissenters, has led an ever growing resentment amongst Humans and Aelves against Morathi's authority. These once disparate groups of Freeguild soldiers, Wanderer Aelves and even Scourge Privateers have formed resistance movements who try to undermine or completely sabotage her rule.
On top of this, her taking the mantle of Khaine has not been universally accepted by her followers. Many devout Daughters of Khaine have started to see her as a usurper trying to claim the mantle of Khaine himself (the rewriting of history might have been a giveaway). With one of the biggest challenges so far coming from the ruling Hag Queen of the Kraith who challenged Morathi directly upon Hag Narr itself before Morathi killed her (though this had the unfortunate side-effect of driving her opponents further underground making them harder to route out). Even among her loyalists, some consider taking Anvilgard to be too costly in the long run. And then members of both groups don't approve of her alliance with the Idoneth Deepkin, who many Daughters of Khaine distrust (and the feeling's mutual), and see their soul-tithe as too extreme even for them. The amount of Khainites working against Morathi has been steadily growing. Ironically, her ascending to godhood has actually caused a greater fissure in her control than when she was mortal. And it's possible Sigmar still plans to make her answer for what she did to Anvilgard and even Grungi realizes he can't act as peacemaker between them forever...
This has also been compounded with disturbing developments with Morathi herself. Witnesses have reported her apparently arguing and screaming at herself in private are becoming more common, and she seems to fluctuate between calm and enraged seemingly at random. Since the splitting of her soul during the Broken Realms saga her essence now resides in two separate individuals, the cunning and charismatic Morathi-Khaine and the angry and embittered Shadow-Queen and both have been increasingly warring for dominance of their shared soul. Most disturbingly her Shadow-Queen aspect apparently took her loss to Kragnos harder than originally thought. Feeling humiliated after being dominated in combat by the earthquake god the monstrous Shadow-Queen in a rage smashed her way out of her own temple and made a bee-line straight for Thondia in Ghur to get revenge on the destruction God. Morathi-Khaine upon hearing this was highly disturbed by this incident and immediately set off with a war host in pursuit of her enraged other half (while also being very worried as her other aspect seems to be developing a will of its own).
Whatever happens things are looking to get a lot bloodier in Thondia very soon.
Unlike some other factions within Age of Sigmar, but very much like others, the Daughters of Khaine are a theocracy. There are many sects of Daughters of Khaine, each worshiping a different aspect of the aelf god of battle and bloodshed. Although the rites and rituals might differ, all the Khainites follow a strict hierarchy in their organisation. They worship Khaine and Morathi is his High Oracle, the one who discerns his will and their overall leader. Though they know about the other gods of Order, they pay no homage to them. Beneath Morathi are the High Priestesses, which include the Slaughter Queens, Hag Queens and Bloodwrack Medusae. They are the keepers of each shrine’s most sacred artefacts, and commanders of the Sisterhood of Blood. The degree of authority held by each of these figures, along with their specific title, varies between the sects, but a single word from Morathi can alter the influence of any other ranking.
Of all the warriors of the temples, the Scáthborn – the Melusai and Khinerai – are closest to Morathi herself, yet they often remain hidden from those outside the cult. The Medusae are made from Aelves converted by Morathi herself; though this is seen as an immense honor Morathi binds them with the most binding of magical oaths, but none among the Khainites would dare question her in this. This is partially due to their forms resulting from daemonic taint which would cause negative sentiment among their allies and the fact that Morathi uses them as something of a secret police. The most public-facing Khainites are the Witch Aelves and Sisters of Slaughter. Their most important shrines are the Cauldrons of Blood, gifts from Khaine himself (at least, what Morathi’s claims each time she gifts one of the great iron cauldrons to the temple of a newly founded Khainite sect). The covenites see it as a sign of their god’s favour that the cauldrons never seem to overflow, no matter how much blood is poured within them following a battle – all assume Khaine himself takes the surplus as an offering.
War covens are the most important organisations to the Daughters of Khaine, their structure laid out by Morathi herself. It is through violence that the Khainites expand their territories, defend their temples and worship their god. Weapons practice and mock duels take up the majority of their daily lives, yet these are not mere military drills, but religious ceremonies, treated with all the gravitas that others might use when reading their most holy of tomes or offering prayers to their god. From their temples in various realms, the Daughters of Khaine scour the Mortal Realms for blood sacrifices. At Morathi's edict, they also search for the shards of their god, scattered across the Realms. They do this for the glory of Khaine and to see him reborn.
Morathi claims to speak for Khaine, and she does wield his unbreakable iron heart, but none know that Morathi’s power is a lie and that Khaine is dead. While their devotions to Khaine could one day lead to his rebirth, Morathi is deliberately preventing that. The reason for this is that she is siphoning the power - either by co-opting it before it reaches the heart or pulling it from Khaine's heart - to reach godhood herself. The prayers that her daughters scream and the ritual offerings they make only serve to enhance her own power, not Khaine’s. Outside Morathi herself, only a handful of the "altered" members of the Daughters of Khaine are aware of this deception, and they, willingly or otherwise, are bound by the most binding of oaths and magic to serve Morathi and keep this secret. Also, the blood surplus poured into the Cauldron's doesn't go to Khaine. It flows back to Hagg Nar through Morathi’s magics, to the Mother of all Cauldrons, the Máthcoir, from which The High Oracle absorbs and repurposes the blood’s energies for her own nefarious gain. Which came to fruition when she used the energies and the Máthcoir in a ritual to merge with Khaine's essence to become the goddess Morathi-Khaine. However, the Máthcoir was broken by the energies of the ritual and Volturnos' actions, and Morathi has secretly been trying to repair it, but has yet to succceed. While she can still create Scathborn from it the process is now far more flawed, with more and more mutated and deformed new Scathborn being created. These are either hidden away or killed on site.
Their society is brutal, especially given that it's leader is Morathi and they worship Khaine. They serve Khaine with fanatical devotion, which is especially problematic considering that Khaine is the god of murder. While the Daughters of Khaine crave bloodshed and murder, they serve alongside the forces of Order – albeit tenuously. Given their tendency towards collateral damage (and rumors of kidnapping innocents and gruesome rituals), they are less respected allies and more tolerated because they're useful. Their views on the other major groups are varied. As builders of cities and civilizations, the Daughters of Khaine are at odds with the forces of Destruction. While it is said that they have an aversion to the Death faction because of a dislike for anything death-related since they nearly went extinct, it's more likely that this due to Morathi's personal grudge against Nagash for striking her and outing her true from to the rest of the pantheon. Despite their distaste for the other two, the one faction they truly hate is Chaos; they could give the Stormcast Eternals a run for their money in hating Chaos, and prosecute their crusades with particular violence against the servants of Slaanesh.
If you're wondering why Morathi is mentioned so often that's deliberate; Morathi keeps as much of a stranglehold on Khainite society as she can. It would be out-of-character for her to do anything less (she kind of a control freak). All Khainites are either warriors that serve in their religious order, or they are leathanam (see below). Temples are found only in some realms; confirmed realms are Ulgu, Azyr and Ghyran. When they are not fighting, the Witch Aelves and Sisters of Slaughter usually participate in ritualized gladiator matches or shady pit fights. They also partake of a form of bladed dancing for the entertainment of others. Despite being a theocratic society, the Daughters of Khaine don't proselytize or win converts; the adherents are themselves the result of a breeding program, choosing their partners in line with the aims and desires of their leaders.
The women outnumber the men here, but this is not the paradise some think it would be. "Where are the men? The 'Daughters' have to reproduce somehow", well... remember that leathanam mentioned earlier? They're a slave class, apart from the Doomfire Warlocks, made up exclusively of all the males in this faction. Yes really, the men are disregard menials/worker drones who do the non-fighting stuff that keeps society going in a literal gender-based slavery system (we know what you're thinking. Something, something, Drow...).
Morathi deliberately made only a few male aelves, and then only from the weakest and most broken of souls retrieved from Slaanesh. Even male aelves a Daughter of Khaine gives birth to are literally cursed with weakness, as when Morathi founded the society, she wove a spell that every male a Khainite births gets part of their soul siphoned to store in her personal Cauldron of Blood... and yes, Morathi instituted the rule that the males are slaves. Surprisingly, the women are usually not misandrists or female supremacists in general when dealing with outsiders or allies. As a society, the Daughters of Khaine respect strength above all else and a lot of the mistreatment of their own males is based on their innate weakness. But on the other hand, their males are weak because Morathi deliberately handicapped them to siqhon of their souls, so female supremacy and/or misandry could still be at work at least as far as Morathi herself. While in theory they worship Khaine, who is male, this is superficial; all information about "Khaine's will" comes from Morathi alone, while Khaine himself is actually limited to his heart and has no say over their actions. With Morathi merging to become the goddess Morathi-Khaine, he might be gone for good.
Among the men, the Doomfire Warlocks and male Khainite Shadowstalkers are interesting cases. They're stronger due to their mastery of shadow magic, but receive limited training, and Morathi has them branded with mind-control runes (while deceiving them into thinking they're protection against Slaanesh). They are treated far better than other leathanam and actually join the females in battle. Despite this, they are still lower status purely because they're male, and are rarely seen by - or acknowledged to - non-Khainites. Their status is somewhere between skilled slave-soldiers and auxiliary allies, with only females as true members of the Daughters of Khaine with the Warlocks technically outside the hierarchy. Individual Daughters of Khaine generally see them as highly useful servants but also show them a healthy level of respect/wariness due to their sinister powers (they know its unwise to antagonize even a servant that can instantly summon shadow magic). The daughters generally avoid them unless need be and they tend to congregate among themselves and while they hold ranks among themselves, no man may outrank a woman among the Daughters of Khaine (with possible cognitive dissonance given the god they think they worship is male).
The Daughters of Khaine also a rare example of a Warhammer society whose attitude towards sex is actually fleshed out (ironic, since Slaanesh is their greatest foe), all from the anthology novel Covens of Blood. Contrary to expectations, they're mostly open about it. They can "mingle", are also fine with bisexuality, polyamory and homosexuality, marriage isn't required - in fact it's strongly implied they don't do marriage - plus rank's not an issue. There are a few caveats; sex can't interfere with their duties, males can neither proposition nor reject a female on pain of death, and if two women want the same man/men, they bargain or duel each other (sometimes to the death). Naturally, this gives females near-complete choice over who fathers their children. The women can even fuck outsiders and captives if they choose (the captives don't get a choice), but affection towards them or having a child with them is considered shameful (the novella also heavily imply human/elf hybrids are possible in Age of Sigmar). Though it can happen, with sometimes the child being secretly sent away to its other parent outside the cult for its safety (especially if it is male) and to avoid the embarrassment of the situation. Plus, sex is a popular way to celebrate or spend their downtime.
The female aelves tend to dye their hair with blood and, in a throwback to Warhammer Fantasy, have rituals of rebirth keep the covenite sisters youthful in appearance and supple in body. Even among their ranks, there are some who are considered extremists; the Sisters of Slaughters' are members who graft masks of living metal to their faces with boiling blood. While the aelven members are accepted by others, the Melusae and Khinerai are not. When fighting alongside, they are concealed by a glamour so they too appear to be aelves; attempts to keep the existence of these mutated elves secret is part of the reason for their teamkilling tendencies among alliances with other Order factions. After Morathi's apotheosis, the Melusai and Khinerai have openly appeared, and are touted as proof of Morathi's divinity. With some of them even making a point to approach non-khainites or allies in Morathi controlled territory un-glamored, simply to dare them to say anything about their appearance.
However Morathi's apotheosis did not come without its own share of problems. Her open proclamation and display of godhood caused a crisis of faith among some of her subjects. Some still blindly support her see her as Khaine reborn, and a bringer of fortune for her people. However, many are also starting to wise up to the fact that she seems more interested in bringing power to herself rather than Khaine, and are beginning to whisper of her as a usurper. Some khainites have even begun actively conspiring against Morathi directly and joining resistance movements against her. One of her most viscous rivals are the so-called Crone-Heralds, khainite extremists who also worship Morai-heg, goddess of prophecies and are actively recruiting followers against Morathi. This had led to conflict and could result in future consequences including a full-blown schism.
tl;dr: They're a scheming, ruthless, misandric, theocratic elven matriarchy originating from a dark realm whose ultimate leader sometimes mutates her followers to resemble her. Sound familiar? (especially since Morathi successfully became a goddess).
One interesting contrast to the drow, though, is that Morathi actually does have some semblance of a reason for all this, instead of just "dominatrixes + spiders = profit". Since Morathi is a psychopath who has, in her mind, been screwed over by the men in her life multiple times - every Phoenix King, then Malekith, then Tyrion and Teclis - it makes sense she'd hold a grudge and, as part of setting herself up as a creator-goddess, she'd vent that grudge by screwing over the male population. Given that some snakes are capable of parthenogenesis (reproducing without men) and that the setting includes magic that can enable asexual reproduction, it's either to Morathi's credit that she didn't drop males altogether and recreate the dark elves under her reign as asexually reproducing amazons... or testament that Morathi's such a misandrist she gave her people a male population just to have men to torture.
The Daughters of Khaine are divided into Sects (previously known as Temples in past lore), in a manner similar to Stormcast Chambers or Sylvaneth Wargroves.
- Hagg Nar: Hagg Nar lies deep in the Umbral Veil, the darkest region of the Shadowlands. The first and largest of the Daughters of Khaine temples, it was built atop the Hellelux, a geyser of shadow magic that spews shrouding mists. It is home to hundreds of warcovens that are always at each other’s throats for the attention of Morathi, who encourages this “rivalry” as a means of weeding out the weak.
- Draichi Ganeth: Draichi Ganeth, which translates as ‘the bladedkillers’, are the Khainite Aelves most commonly seen by other Order factions. Their main temple is found in the northern barrens of Fuarthorn in Ulgu, but their higher tendency for exploration, hunts and pilgrimages means they have temples and lesser shrines can be found across the realms. As a result, they're the most commonly encountered temple across the Realms. Every free city has seen or is host to a small troupe of the Draichi Ganeth, who look down upon the subterfuge and deception of their sister sects. They are known to the Freeguilds as the Executioners Cult due to their blunt and forward style of combat, as well as their penchant for decapitation.
- The Kraith: The sect known as the Kraith, also called the Crimson Cult, are true disciples of slaughter, and have earned a reputation as the least compromising of all the Daughters of Khaine. Arrogant and nomadic, they have no true temple home, instead traveling from one war to the next as they believe Khaine’s one and only temple is the blood stained battlefield. They have been targeted by Idoneth of the Fuethan enclave so frequently, the Kraith have sworn an eternal vendetta against them.
- Khailebron: This sect has learned well the arts of concealment, stealth and obfuscation. Those who worship at the temples of Khailebron revere the assassin and the unseen killer, and strive to be masters of ambushes and sudden strikes. Where these temples are is known only to Morathi and the Khailebron themselves. When not at their hidden temples, the Khailebron masquerade as wandering performers who showcase an elegant “bladed-dance” for the local populace, while their top killers secretly slit the throats of their targets (which often expands to include anyone who shows too much disrespect to the dancers).
- Khelt Nar: Khelt Nar has become the fastest growing of the sects established by Morathi. It began as Ironshard, a single Khainite shrine founded by the High Oracle atop a flat-topped mountain of iron known as the Rothtor. Since then it has expanded to other Realms, including a stronghold in Ghyran, and have been tasked by the High Priestess with clearing out the rampant Bonesplitterz that plague their territories. Khelt Nar is best known for being composed of deliciously brown dark aelves and their unique shadow-steel forging techniques which they zealously guard.
- Zainthar Kai: This reserved sect was born in the Age of Chaos when Morathi (desperate to get a leg up on the Ruinous Powers) decided to infuse a new brood of Scáthborn with three drops of Khaine’s blood. The result is a temple of veritable demi-gods who can call upon the god of murder’s strength in haze of battle, becoming the Shadow Queen’s go-to temple for making her more despised enemies disappear. The temple is mostly led by/comprised of Scáthborn, but there are contingents of Witch Aelves who function as (disposable) work horses (also maybe getting a little taste of what they put the Lethanamn through).
- Har Ganeth: One of the oldest temples founded by a Hag Queen named Hellebron in the region of Naggaroth…hey wait a minute. Literally a straight copy-paste from Warhammer Fantasy. This weird inclusion has (so far) only been given a mention in the “Covens of Blood” anthology and no where else. It feels like someone just heard about Hellebron and Morathi’s rivalry from the Total War games and just slapped it into AoS without any further investigation. Suffice to say, this sect will likely either be retconned or just completely ignored.
In Age of Sigmar Roleplay, it's established that Daughters of Khaine are selected to become Soulbound when Morathi decides that a potentially stray from the ranks of her faithful is too dangerous or too useful to just dispose of outright. Soulbound Daughters are selected from the overly ambitious, those who secretly yearned for freedom, and even those who had begun to doubt Khaine's divinity, basically serving as a way to remove potential threats to Morathi's control over the faction. Despite their origins, though, Morathi often goes out of her way to maintain a good relationship with "her" Soulbound (in fact, the Binding actually servers the magical restrains that Morathi uses to control the Daughters as a whole), because, whatever else they may be to her, they are both useful as powerful yet neutral arbiters and as ambassadors of her "good intentions" to the other powers of Order. Of course, these allegiances may well have been severed due to her actions during the Broken Realms Saga.
Normal Daughters of Khaine are unsure of how to regard their Soulbound "sisters", since they are simultaneously very dangerous, but not rivals due to being forever outside the hierarchy of the temples, apparently favored by the High Oracle but yet also deeply connected to and regularly traveling alongside "outsiders" who shouldn't be privy to the secrets of Khaine's temples. They tend to default to "respectful suspicion" when interacting with Soulbound Daughters.
The Champions of Order splatbook opens the following temples for a Daughters of Khaine hero to hail from:
- Hagg Nar: The capital of Morathi's bloody empire. It is a massive temple-nation that serves as pilgrimage destination for all sisters and home to a staggering number of war-covens who wage war in the name of their bloody god. Heroes from Hagg Nar add their training in both Devotion and Reflexes when determining their defenses. Whenever they make a Death test, they also add a number of dice equal to their training in Devotion.
- Draichi Ganeth: Perhaps the best-known of the temples, though not for any good reason. They are religiously devoted to the act of killing with a single stroke, and revel in their showmanship with the blade. Tact and stealth are foul words to them and disdainful. Heroes of Draichi Ganeth kill their non-minion enemies in spectacularly gory ways with piercing or slashing weapons. Once per combat, this can take the form of improving their Defense by one step.
- The Kraith: While others house temples of worship, the daughters of this temple believe that the only altar they should have is the battlefield. They scorn any other aspect that draws attention away from murder and thus disdain any other temple. Because of the grisly nature of their battle and rituals, there are few that can even stomach their presence. Heroes from the Kraith start with a dose of the Venom of Negendra, a poison made legendary a hero of their cult. Once per turn when they kill a non-minion enemy, they regain 1 point of Mettle.
- Khailebron: Where most daughters would balk at sucking up to the other forces of order, the Khailebron serve a double life as a troupe of blade-dancers and entertainers. Their true purpose is to act as shadowy assassins and spies for Morathi. Because of this, they are rarely in the spotlight and often even scorn those who showboat. Heroes from Khailebron add their training in Entertain when making Body (Stealth) checks and when determining Melee. In addition, the Spellcasting (Grey) talent is available to all archetypes.
- Khelt Nar: The reputation of this temple has often been hotly contested. They have been besieged several times by Chaos, but have fought back these invasions. They hold the secrets to forging weapons out of special shadow-metal and jealously guard their secrets from envious foes. They seek Morathi's sole favor, but this often puts them at odds with other temples, including Hagg Nar. Heroes from Khelt Nar start play with a magical dagger made of this special shadow-metal, and those harmed by it must make a Mind (Determination) check or else be stunned.
- Har Kuron: Only available if the game's set at a point in time after Broken Realms: Morathi, and for obvious reason. After all, this was what befell Anvilgard after Morathi (now ascended to godhood) decided to steal it from the clutches of Sigmar and burned any pretense of friendship with the forces of Order. Heroes from Har Kuron can murder enemies to inspire their foes. When they slay a non-minion enemy, they can spend a point of mettle to force their allies to snap out of the charmed or frightened conditions and improve their Melee by one step until your next turn.
The Daughters of Khaine have the fewest dedicated Archetypes in the Age of Sigmar Roleplay corebook, with only the Hag Priestess and the Witch Aelf open to them. The Champions of Order splatbook opens Khainite Shadowstalker archetype.
The Scáthborn: Melusai and Khinerai
One element that really distinguishes the Daughters of Khaine from the other known elfy subraces of the Mortal Realms (and which further invites comparison to the drow) are the races collectively known as the Scáthborn; the Melusai and the Khinerai.
Both of the Scáthborn have forms that merge a female aelf with distinctive bestial traits. The Khinerai are bat-elves who have the gift of flight, whilst the Melusai are snake-elves similarly to the Medusae. It bears noting that Morathi's true form combines traits of both of these races, slithering around on a giant serpent's tail like a Melusai, yet sporting mighty bat-like wings.
For the longest time, these two races were kept hidden in the temples of Morathi, who didn't want to reveal them to the other Races of Order (or even to her own people at large). After the Age of the Beast, though, they were finally brought out into the open, and are touted as proof of Morathi's divine status; after all, they are quite literally made in her image, so if she can do that, she must be a god! The dark secret, and the reason why she hid them in the first place, is that the first of the Scáthborn were actually given these forms because their souls had been touched by corruption during their time in the gullet of Slaanesh. Since Scáthborn seem to be true-breeding now, they have evidently managed to become at least as distinct from the beastmen as skaven.
Rumor has it that either Melusai, Khinerai, or both will appear as playable races in the Age of the Beast splatbook for Age of Sigmar Roleplay, and given that there are rules for playing things like Gloomspite Gitz and Troggoths, that's not too hard to believe.
Precisely why the Scáthborn were added to the Daughters of Khaine faction as a whole is unknown, but there are a few tentative precedents. A long-running unit in the Druchii army of Warhammer was the Harpies, who were described as a ferocious, bestial-minded fusion of female elf and bat, and the Khinerai are obvious descendant of the Harpies. The Melusai are harder to place; they probably were inspired by the Bloodwrack Medusa added to the Druchii army in 8th edition, which in turn may have been inspired by Dechala, a Chaos Champion of Oldhammer who was essentially a Slaanesh-worshipping she-elf whose chaotic boons had mutated her into a knock-off Marilith. As for the why it's probably to fill out the roster for the Daughters. When the Daughters spun out from the old Dark Elves they only had three units,Witch Aelves, Sisters of Slaughter and Doomfire Warlocks. To make an entire faction with that ascetic and design Game Workshop had to make new units and set's no question, but when your theme is 'half naked warrior chick' only so many ways you can spin that so: they went with two common monster girls, harpy and Naga to as a base to fill out some slots.
Dark Elves, now with 50% more Sneks.
|Playable Factions in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar|