A Haemonculus (from homunculus, Latin for "little man" and one of the usual buzzwords of alchemy in fantasy, and haemo-, the
British CORRECT spelling of hemo- [though they are pronounced the same way], from Greek for "blood" -- not that Haemonculi are little men made out of blood, but they are sort-of-alchemists and they work with flesh and blood) is a Dark Eldar mad scientist (in some ways, they're like the techpriests of the Adeptus Mechanicus) -- though the Haemonculi would insist that their works are far more advanced artistic than crude bionics of Mon-keigh technology, and the techpriests would be insulted by the comparison to filthy fabulous, deviant xenos). They are colloquially known as "flesh-sculptors" and "Lords of Pain" because that's exactly what their art is all about. They take great pleasure in modifying creatures, and the more bizarre and painful (to both the subject and whoever said subject gets turned loose upon) the better. They're not above self-experimentation, either, but it doesn't matter, because they're doing it in the name of ART ! Because the universe wasn't Grimdark enough yet and we needed the artists too to be raving lunatics with a need for scalpels and living beings to act as materials/canvases.
Nobody is quite sure where they come from, since Haemonculi are all extremely old and heavily modified from whoever they once were, but the structure of their covens suggests that they start their careers as Wracks (or "Haemacolytes" if you want to be polite) apprenticed to a Haemonculus, doing the dirty work with scalpels and such (like BDSM grad students). They were also probably were the masters of the eldar society pre-fall, meaning they predate a lot of stuff (and Eldrad!). If the Dark Eldar were Reasonable Dark Eldar, Wracks who impressed their masters would be given a chance to join the inner circle; as it is, Haemonculi are probably more likely to kill gifted students and take credit for their work, while said gifted students are busily plotting the downfall of their masters and maneuvering to take their places. This is made easier for all by the fact that Haemonculi usually group up in Covens, organisations of gifted mad scientists who all get together to perform experiments, get pimped-out bases and weapons, and perform huge raids where the populations of entire hives are taken away and tortured horribly. These guys recently got their own supplement, and some new models.
The limits of their genetic engineering is relatively unknown due to very little fluff expansion in contrast to other factions or units (Makes sense due to the relatively unpopularity of Dark Eldar which makes them receive less coverage). This has led a few on /tg/ to view note that their creations are rather underwhelming in comparison to the genetically enhanced creations of the Imperium such as Adeptus Custodes or Primarchs or even just regular Space Marines. Nevertheless, whether you want to agree on Haemonculus genecraft capabilities or not, their influence in genetic engineering is able to attract guys from Fabulous Bile to even members of the Imperium. Well...in the latter's case, it was more of a call for desperation due to the failing Golden Throne and being the only faction that still have knowledge in genetic resurrection and soul transference.
Like all mad scientists, the Haemonculi like to gather together, sip tea, and discuss their latest discoveries over the flayed body of some unfortunate victim. They call these little fraternities covens, and Games Workshop was actually kind enough to detail them and all their sick, twisted glory.
- The Black Descent: The Cube meets Saw. These guys put jigsaw to shame. They take special delight in crafting ironic punishments for those that offend them. They created their own murder labyrinth below Commorragh and filled it with all sorts of nasty traps. Anyone lucky enough to escape the maze alive has the "honor" of being turned into a wrack and joining the coven. Did I mention you have to navigate the labyrinth in pitch darkness?
- The Dark Creed: Not quite Night Lords, but close enough to compare notes. Like the Midnight Clad, they love to terroize their victims before they kill. Unlike the Night Lords, The Dark Creed don't like to get their hands dirty. Instead, they try and drive their victims insane with fear, usually by relying on long range weapons or hordes of allied Mandrakes creeping out of the shadows when you least expect it.
- The Hex: Taking the arcane science/horror and turning it up to eleven is The Hex's favored tactic. They claim to be the brains behind some of the more crazy Dark Eldar Weapon, including a sniper Rifle that turns people to glass and a gun that causes a victim's skeleton to explosively grow until it impales the people standing nearby.
- The Coven of Twelve: They like their Wracks skinless, their toys shiny, and their deaths...interesting? The Coven of Twelve resemble a gentleman's club of demented, immortal psycopaths. They gather in what passes for smoking jackets, drink expensive wine from the skulls of their still-living enemies, and share stories of how awesome they are. Despite the name, there are only eleven members (they keep a seat open for Urien Rakarth in case he ever decides to come sit at the cool kids table) and getting a spot is really hard. Most of the members have died and brought back so many times that you have to get really creative when trying to permanently off one. (For instance, turning your target into a living soup and then drinking him).
- The Everspiral: Stupid Evil. I wish I was making this up, but apparently the Everspiral's whole identity is that they have decided they are going to do every vile, despicable, horrific, malignant, nasty thing possible. Why? Because they think they are evil gods and intend to "do everything in their power to ensure each day is a little viler than the last." That is an actual quote from the Haemonculus Coven supplement.
- The Ebon Sting: They make the best Talos. Also, they have a signature poison that causes their victims to turn into an incubator for worms, from which said poison is extracted.
- The Altered: Does this spine make me look fat? The Altered never wear the same anatomy twice and are constantly reworking their physiology. However, their real love is poisons. As in, kidnap and distill the population of an entire planet to synthesize a single drop of the perfect toxin.
- The Prophets of Flesh: Urien Rakarth's personal coven. The Wracks start out by having their arms and legs altered and branded. Should they prove to be especially sadistic, the Wrack will have the arm or leg cut off and a new, unblemished one is taken from the flesh libraries and grafted on. Yes, a flesh library.
Haemonculi used to be an HQ choice for Dark Eldar armies, available in up to three per HQ slot (one of whom may be a Haemonculus Ancient, with some beefed-up stats), and allowing Wrack squads to be taken as Troops instead of elites. Nowadays, they got slightly pricier at 70 but have the Ancient's statline by default, and can no longer be bought at 3 for a slot. These guys serve a critical rule by granting the unit they're in a bonus turn for PFP rules, meaning free FNP on turn 1 for example. Relatively tough and with access to some pretty heavy-duty wargear, including the Crucible of Malediction, which gives all psykers within 3d6" an unsavable S6 hit, and your only source of HQ-level Concussive, via the Mindphase Gauntlet. In shooty lists, it's not uncommon to see a single, cheap haemonculus with a liquifier gun or a hex rifle (or an otherwise naked Archon with a blaster) stuck in which a larger squad just to fill up the mandatory HQ slot, because the DE will not be winning by combat in this edition (damn Overwatch).
- In the Covens supplement, these guys become your ONLY HQ choice. This makes bringing them even more critical, as their PFP boosting is the only way the Grotesques can last despite their shit Leadership. Keep them as cheap as possible, and keep the relics you grab from the covens as low as possible, because most of them kick ASS.
|Forces of the Dark Eldar|
|Command:|| Archons - Haemonculi - Kabalite Trueborn |
Lhamaeans - Medusae - Sslyth - Succubi
|Troops:|| Beastmasters - Commorragh Slaves - Grotesques |
Hellions - Incubi - Kabalite Warriors - Mandrakes
Scourges - Wracks - Wyches
|Beasts:||Clawed Fiends - Khymerae - Razorwing Flocks - Ur-Ghuls|
|Pain Engines:||Cronos Parasite Engines - Talos Pain Engines|
|Vehicles:|| Raiders - Raven Fighters - Razorwing Jetfighters |
Reapers - Reaver Jetbikes - Venoms
|Super Heavies:||Ravagers - Tantali - Voidraven Bombers|