Grand Alliance Order
"Marge. Kids. Everything's gonna be just fine. Now go upstairs and pack your bags. We're gonna start a new life... under the sea."
- – Homer Simpson - "Homer Badman".
"I got no soul, but I am a soldier"
- – The Killers - "All These Things That I've Done". Well, that's how we remember it going.
"We have been hiding long enough. The time has come for Atlantis to rise again."
- – Prince Orm of Aquaman fame
- – Willem Dafoe- "The Lighthouse".
The Idoneth Deepkin are fucking awesome. They are fish elves who ride giant fish into battle, what’s not to love?
The Idoneth Deepkin are a new faction of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, composed of marine aelves and assorted sea fauna. As the previous writer said, they are rather awesome in their uncommon design and the creatures they bring. Also, elves riding sharks and eels. Yeah, sweet looking.
After Teclis, Tyrion, Malerion, and Morathi made Slaanesh start shitting out elf souls, Teclis took the devout of Mathlann (the deceased elf god of the ocean) and made a new home for them in Hysh called Leiriu, a luminescent city also known as the Bright Haven or City of Reflection. There, Teclis taught these newborn aelves, the "Cythai", about the old world and their gods hoping to re-create the High Elves.
However, they weren't exactly model elves: they were withdrawn, resentful and traumatized by their time within Slaanesh. Upon learning this, Teclis wasn't thrilled with them. He tried to find what went wrong, but the Cythai weren't cooperative ; Teclis' methods made some fall into madness, so they weren't exactly without reason. Afraid for their lives and unable or unwilling to cope with Teclis' methods, they fled into the oceans of the Mortal Realms. Teclis, being a dick, tried to exterminate them for good measure, but his brother Tyrion convinced him to be merciful so he let them go.
Over time, each of the Cythai's enclaves developed differently, but all were affected by their new environs and self-imposed isolation. The magic they learned from Teclis was adapted so they could live underwater, even at the most crushing of depths. They grew attuned to their new surroundings, learning to trust vibrations and changes in pressure more than sight or sound. Some of them even became adept in the art of seeing the flaring soul-stuff that animates the living.
The elves, now the ‘Idoneth’, didn't learn that Tyrion had made Teclis cool down and stayed in hiding. Having rejected Teclis they called out to Mathlann, but he was dead so they reached out to other gods, who either didn't hear them, were also dead or didn't care. Having accepted they were people without a proper god, they tried to re-create Mathlann and society as best they could.
After making their new societies, they calmed down and took stock of their situation. Accepting the possibility that their time in Slaanesh had contaminated them, the Idoneth did some research and discovered one of the side-effects. They called it mallachi, and it was when an Idoneth went into a state of raging madness that ended in savage debauchery, but this only happened to a few. A second, far worse, side-effect was found when they started having babies as only one in a hundred Idoneth babies survived past infancy. The Idoneth soon figured out their progeny were born with souls that swiftly withered.
Desperate and without divine aid, they turned to magic to fix the problem without success. Between the extremely high infant mortality rate, wars and the dangers of the ocean, Idoneth numbers rapidly dwindled. Things only changed when they found out if you kill something with a soul and put that soul into an elf, they won't die prematurely. They first tried this on animals, but animal souls only brought them days, so they decided to go to the surface and start doing this to other people. Though other souls, such as those of human, duardin, orruks and even sylvaneth worked equally well for the Idoneth's purpose, it often took more than a few souls to empower an elf to live even a third of their normal lifespan.
At first it was only for survival, since the withering of souls remained as aggressive and frequent as ever and has so far proven incurable, but later they did it for the expansion of their newly found enclaves. At first it was only one in Hysh, but after the discovery of the Whirlways, whirlpools that work as underwater Realmgates, they started to get into the rest of the realms. Due to differences among the Cytharai and a growing population, they expanded to all Mortal Realms save Azyr and founded several enclaves in all of them. They developed a pattern of swift raids and a strict "leave no witnesses" policy, surrounding themselves with memory-altering magic so anyone who encountered them would forget it soon after if the Idoneth didn't kill or capture them first (and the rare few who managed to escape with this knowledge were written off as lunatics or deluded).
But there were other powers out there so the secret could only last for so long. Sigmar long suspected that something dangerous was in the oceans, but had other concerns so he didn't go looking. It was Alarielle and the Sylvaneth who first pierced the veil of secrecy. In Ghyran, an Idoneth attack on some coastal Sylvaneth drew the attention of Alarielle, who entered the fray and personally defeated them in battle. Since Alarielle is a goddess, she's immune to their memory-altering magic and her word is all the Sylvaneth would need to be on guard against the Idoneth. While the Sylvaneth kept the secret, the Idoneth dialed back their attacks and kept a low profile in Ghyran. On the Chaos side, the Keeper of Secrets Sslish the Depraved followed the spoor of strange magic and eventually found an Idoneth army, attacking them with a daemonic army until an Eidolon destroyed them. Archaon had long suspected there were more aelves than would seem, but wasn't able to confirm this until his Gaunt Summoners found the same magic and scried, finding and binding Sslish before Archaon tortured the daemon into spilling the beans.
The Idoneth became quite the hikkikomori: betrayed by their creator, forced into bad habits for survival and hated by many. They thought that they didn't need the surface world and limited themselves to the oceans, leaving only for raiding souls. During the Age of Chaos this started to change. They fought the forces of Chaos wherever they found them, either leaving Chaos' other opponents alone or killing them and taking their souls too. High King Volturnos realized that they'd have to ally with others to fight off Chaos though most other Idoneth didn't approve of this. First, he reached out to Alarielle for peace talks but, wary of trickery and aware of the Idoneth's past actions, Alarielle turned them down. They also encountered some Stormcast Eternals, and after a battle where the Idoneth learned they're unable to capture Stormcast souls due to Sigmar's blessing, they found new allies in the Sigmarines.
They also have kind of a big issue with Nagash. You see, Nagash knew about the disappeared souls from the get-go and is kind of territorial in regards to the dead. So, because they're stealing souls to save themselves, he's not happy with them (read: really hates these guys). At first he had no idea who was taking the souls or where, despite extensive searching on his part. After the accidental drainage of a sea in Shyish (How the hell do you drain a sea "accidentally"?!) by the Skaven (...oh, THAT's how. Even better, everyone's favorite Grey Seer was responsible.), Nagash caught on to their existence and location. Now he’s emptying more seas in Shyish and sending waves of undead after them in all the realms to stamp them out because he’s the only guy who believes himself to be allowed to have dead souls. In their desperation, the Idoneth of Shyish changed their foreign policy and allied with the Forces of Order. Some Idoneth got so desperate they somewhat reconciled with their estranged creator-god Teclis.
The Idoneth society is divided in three clear castes. First we have the Namarti, composed of those 90% of Idoneth who were born with incomplete souls, extremely pale skin, short lifespan (for an aelf anyway, they may still live more than us puny humans) and without eyes that are the majority of the population and are the workforce. Then we have the lucky 10% dudes that were born with complete souls (aka, average aelves): the Akhelians, the warrior caste and those who ride the sweet-looking eels, sharks, Deepmares and Leviadons; and the Isharann, that are the magic users and priests. However, the first ones among all of them were the Cytharai which due to accidents, wars or other shenanigans all of them have died out save the exception of the High King of the Deep Volturnos, who is still alive after millennia and a being a fighter who leads from the front.
One of the more weird phenomena that happens around these guys on land is the so-called Ethersea. This is a manifestation of their marine magic, taking the form of a mist that enables them to use their superior sea-faring abilities and allow their sea beasts to survive where there's no water in miles and move as if they were in water. The Ethersea also have the secondary effect that it manipulates the land and makes it gain deep-sea characteristics spontaneously, like shipwhrecks, coral, fish shoals to start running freely, bubble breath...
A possible bit of continuity errors already creeping in; whilst the armybook describes the Namarti caste as inherently eyeless, an Idoneth-focused short story in the anthology "Myths and Revenants" declares that the Namarti are actually born with eyes, but their ensouled counterparts ceremonially cut their eyes out when they reach puberty for undisclosed reasons.
The "factions" of the Deepkin are the Enclaves, city-states founded under the seas of the realms connected by underwater realm gates called Whirlways. Whilst there are, as expected with such a large setting, countless Enclaves, there are six main ones that have been fleshed out.
- Ionrach: The posterboys, who have their armour painted a shiny blue and also have a venerable leader from a forgotten age. The Ionrach are one of the first enclaves that ran from the rays of Teclis into the seas of Hysh, though they have since emigrated to Ghyran. Notably the most "friendly" of the enclaves, to the point where they will actually co-operate with the other forces of Order.
- Dhom-Hain: The polar opposites of the Ionrach, being the first to part ways with their fellow Deepkin to settle in the literal hellscape that are the seas of Ghur. Seriously, imagine every lethal predator in our seas but 10x larger and there's ridiculous amounts of them. They settled in a deep chasm, where lots of the Fangmora Eels lurked. This meant that they use more Akhelians than other enclaves. Once went to Ghyran and fought some Sylvaneth until Alarielle kicked their asses over it. Said battle cost them a valuable ancestral heirloom, which several Dhom-Hain nobles have tried and failed to retrieve.
- Fuethan: Living in the seas of Aqshy means that these Deepkin are especially aggressive, and they're very mean spirited when collecting souls. Whilst enclaves like the Ionrach would spare the soul of say, a child, the Fuethan would do no such thing. In fact, they take such glee in raiding that they are found still hacking away at bodies even when they're long dead. They've also been behind or involved in every Idoneth civil war.
- Mor'Phann: Dour and pale, the Mor'Phann inhabit the dark seas in Shyish. They use lots of mist and pale tentacled creatures,many were hit especially hard by the Necroquake to the point where they had to ally with the Stormcast to not die.
- Briomdar: These guys used to be a part of the Ionrach, before declaring independence and settling in the middle of an undersea kelp forst in Ghyran. Experts at navigating terrain and ambushes - even by Idoneth standards - they camouflage themselves in kelp to leap out at unsuspecting passerbys. As an Ionrach off-shoot, they're the second most willing to ally with non-Idoneth.
- Nautilar: An enclave that literally lives on the shell of a giant crusteacean called the Giant Scaphodon. Recently they took quite a beating from some Skaven that tunnelled underwater. Also used to be a part of the Ionrach.
According to Age of Sigmar Roleplay, becoming a Soulbound is a terrifying yet tempting idea for Idoneth Deepkin. On the one hand, they're incredibly isolationist, and they have a racial grudge against their creator-god Teclis for trying to kill all of them. On the other hand, undergoing the rite of Binding strengthens a Deepkin's soul to a degree that they can't achieve on their own, freeing them forever from both the fear of losing their souls and from the phantom pain that haunts their entire race, whilst simultaneously giving them permission to reap souls aplenty from foes and fallen allies alike. Those Idoneth who do agree to make the pledge (usually specifying that they will never directly serve Teclis first) are essentially forever exiled from their people, although the most foresighted Idoneth Kings and Queens, such as those descended from Ionrach, have realized that, in this changing age, Idoneth Soulbound can make useful ambassadors for their race.
Idoneth Soulbound have access to the Akhelian Emissary, Isharann Soulscryer and Isharann Tidecaster archetypes in the corebook.
An Interesting Note
Mantic Games had been producing their own Trident Realm range several years before the Idoneth were conceived. They're categorically not elves (Kings of War has elf factions, the Trident Realm isn't one of them), and mostly naiads and thull with a number of other underwater-themed species. Whether someone at GW saw this and thought “damn, we could make a killing out of this” or not is unknown.
|Playable Factions in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar|
|Idoneth Deepkin Units|
|Akhelian:||Akhelian King - Akhelian Guard - Allopex - Leviadon|
|Isharann:||Tidecaster - Soulscryer - Soulrender|
|Namarti:||Namarti Thralls - Namarti Reavers|