Living dolls are toys created from still-alive bodies by the Vel'Vloz'ress clan Ilharess, Kharla'ggen, to use as ragdolls for her own amusement.
The origin of this especially miserable sort of slave is surprisingly innocuous. When a child, Kharla'ggen demonstrated an affection for stuffed teddies, plush dolls and other soft toys - her adoptive mother Ven'nedia, who was eager to furnish Kharla'ggen with anything that would soothe her tormented self, consequently ensured that she never wanted for any. To their credit, these painless playthings did seem to exert some calming effect on Kharla'ggen's troubled mind - but as circumstances confirmed her descent into madness this innocent recreation was corrupted into a psychotic practice; a grotesque parody of a 'craft skill'. Some girls take up embroidery - Kharla'ggen rips out skeletons!
The victims that are converted into living dolls are drawn up according to those that are to be punished for rebellion against and resistance to the clan's leadership, or those who are simply unfortunate enough to encounter the Ilharess when she's bored (creating living dolls is seen by her as a hobby).
The process of creating a living doll essentially involves crippling mutilation which renders the subject able to sense the world around him, but all but incapable of responding to it - a helpless, pitiful figure imprisoned by his own body for the remainder of his existence. Eyes are put out and replaced with jet buttons; teeth are extracted; tongues cut away; arms and legs have their bones removed so that the limbs are just floppy lengths of pliant flesh. The most a living doll can do is moan and wheeze through his empty mouth or wriggle impotently. The fact that most just slump indolently is proof enough of the soul-destroying nature of the living dolls' condition. It is a state reasonably described by Kiel'ndia Vel'Vloz'ress as "a true living hell", and one that can be sustained indefinitely as long as food is poured down the dolls' throats when needed.
In addition to being Kharla'ggen's most distinctive pastime, living dolls are shockingly public warnings of the perils invited upon you by quarelling with the clan, as well as exemplars of the dangerous derangement of Kharla'ggen herself; the actual antechamber to her very throne room also serves as a cupboard for her creations. Given that it is common policy of the Vel'Vloz'ress to upset and intimidate ambassadors (one example being the grasping golems that line the route to the throne room), it is likely that the siting of the Ilharess's playbox is not coincidental.
Significant persons that have been subjected to the dreadful procedure of being turned into living dolls include Kami'seide Val'Kyorl'solenurn.