The Asuryani Path, also called the Eldar Path or Ai'elethra in the Eldar Lexicon, is a rigid code of behaviour that every Craftworld Eldar submits to in his day-to-day life. These behaviour patterns act as a form of physical and psychic protection against the Eldar's baser nature, and allows an Eldar to experience his race's incredibly intense emotions without repeating the terrible excesses that led to the cataclysmic Fall of the Eldar in the past. There are as many different Paths as there are roles in Eldar society, but the core philosophy is common to all of the Paths.
The Eldar of the Craftworlds developed strict controls over their own inner natures so that what remains of their ancient civilisation will never again fall victim to the thirst of Slaanesh. Every Eldar chooses for himself a discipline that he then makes his task to master to the exclusion of all else in life. Each discipline is called a Path, and each path may require further choices and specialisations as he walks further upon it.
Once an Eldar has mastered one Path, he chooses another and in this way creates a toolbox of abilities and skills during the course of his long lifespan over which he has complete control. An Eldar may travel many different Paths in his life, and the skills he learns in each Path serve to greatly enrich all of his further accomplishments. In this way, the Eldar avoid temptation and tame their naturally wanton and excessively turbulent natures. To the Eldar all Paths are strewn with potential dangers, for the Eldar mind is capable of a depth of emotion and understanding that cannot be described by the simple human word "obsession." Such dangers are similar to psychic traps waiting to catch the unwary upon an Eldar Path and hold him fast there forever. When an Eldar's mind becomes so intently focused upon one thing that he is no longer capable of leaving one path for another, he is said to have been "lost upon the Path." This is a terrible and frightening fate for all Eldar, as it is an outcome that can befall any of them despite the intense discipline and training they have sought to maintain to keep their minds balanced. In the case of the Path of the Warrior, these individuals are known as Exarchs, and there are other examples of this fate such as the Crystal Seers and the doomed Bards of Twilight.
There are a great number of Paths within Eldar culture, and while some are as rarely trod upon as the Path of the Seer, others are as common as the Path of the Artisan. Each offers its followers a complete and all-encompassing way of life for the time they tread upon it. The Path of the Seer is the most treacherous and complex of them all, but Eldar who have mastered the less consuming and esoteric Paths are no less respected than their more militant kin. The Artisans are the Eldar who create and maintain the Craftworlds and all the wonders that they contain, calling the masterpieces of aesthetically pleasing form and function into being with the care and skill that a musician might laving upon his instrument or a warrior upon his blade. It is from the ranks of those Eldar who walk these "civilian" Paths that the Eldar Guardians are mustered when needed.
- "Life is to us as the Maze of Linnian was to Ulthanesh, its mysterious corridors leading to wondrous vistas and nightmarish encounters in equal measure. Each of us must walk the maze alone, treading in the footsteps of those that came before but also forging new routes through the labyrinth of existence.
In times past we were drawn to the darkest secrets and ran wild about the maze, seeking to experience all that it had to offer. As individuals and as a civilisation we lost our way and in doing so created the means for our doom; unfettered exploration leading to the darkness of the Fall.
In the emptiness that followed, a new way was revealed to us: the Path. Through the wisdom of the Path we spend our lives exploring the meaning of existence, moving from one part of the maze to another with discipline and guidance so that we never become lost again. On the Path we experience the full potential of love and hate, joy and woe, lust and purity, filling our lives with experience and fulfilment but never succumbing to the shadows that lurk within our thoughts.
But like all journeys, the Path is different for each of us. Some wander for a long while in one place; some spread their travels wide and visit many places for a short time while others remain for a long time to explore every nook and turn; some of us lose our way and leave the Path for a time or forever; and some of us find dead-ends and become trapped."
- — Kysaduras the Anchorite, foreword to Introspections upon Perfection
An Eldar Path is an extremely rigid, codified and structured social code of behaviour, to which all Eldar living inside a Craftworld must adhere. To understand how the Eldar have been forced to rely upon such a system of behaviour, one must understand something of the Eldar psyche. For all the physiological differences between a Human and an Eldar, they are nothing compared to the mental differences between the two species. The Eldar are a highly psychic race, and therefore the depth of their emotions and perceptions are much, much keener than those of any other intelligent species in the galaxy. Each experience is for an Eldar a true feast for the senses, to the extent that a reckless Eldar can actually die from sensory overload. The extreme gratification the Eldar receive from any accomplishment inexorably led their ancient interstellar empire into a downward spiral of hedonism and overindulgence marked by the quest for ever more intense sensations. This long period of hedonistic debauchery eventually culminated in the cataclysmic Fall and the birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure, known to the Eldar as "She Who Thirsts."
After the horrors of the Fall, the few surviving Eldar realised that this new major Chaos God would not rest until it had devoured every last Eldar soul, and that they needed some form of protection to ensure their continued survival. The Dark Eldar managed to find a way to strengthen their own psyches from Slaanesh's hunger by absorbing the psychic energies produced by pain and despair in other intelligent beings, sacrificing what they steal from others to Slaanesh in order to protect their own souls from being devoured by She Who Thirsts. For their part, the Craftworld Eldar found their solace in the Paths. Preventing an Eldar from intensly experiencing his surroundings proved impossible, so the survivors defined a way to be able to experience their emotions without falling prey to the danger of overindulging them. Each Eldar chooses a discipline, a role he will fulfill in his day-to-day life, and focuses on perfecting his chosen craft as much as he can. The key point of this development is to induce a particular mental state similar to that which humans might consider schizophrenia in an Eldar, fragmenting the mind to allow him to call on his emotions while he is busy with his chosen craft, and safely store them away in his mind when he is not. This psychic compartmentalisation allows an Eldar to call on his emotions and fully experience the heights they can provide when they are needed to maximise his efficiency at his chosen task, but not fall prey to the excesses of feeling that lead to the Fall and that attract the unwanted attention of Slaanesh.
Once an Eldar has achieved mastery of his chosen Path, an event that can take many Terran decades, he will choose another Path to tread. There is no predefined choice, and some Eldar choose new Paths that are closely linked to their previous experiences, while others prefer to switch between completely unrelated roles. Each Eldar builds his own personal toolbox of different skills and experiences, with each Path trodden making him a more accomplished being.
Despite the protection they offer against the eternal thirst of Slaanesh, the Paths are not perfect; a danger still lurks within them, as a Path only allows an Eldar to control his emotions -- it does not rid him of his passions. Despite all their care, some Eldar ultimately fail at storing their emotions away, and become consumed by them. Those Eldar who fail to maintain their psychic equilibrium will gradually transform in a living embodiment of their Path, losing their personality in an all-consuming desire for perfection within its confines. Such unfortunate Eldar are said to be "lost" on their chosen Path.
Despite the dire warnings provided by the history of their people for what happens when rigid mental control is not maintained, some Craftworld Eldar still find the Paths all too restrictive. Those who cannot bear this burden will leave their Craftworld, and become Outcasts, which is itself one of the Paths. These Eldar are at an enormous risk of being consumed by Slaanesh, so they are viewed with suspicion by their peers, and are often unwelcome amongst their Craftworld kin while they remain on the Path of the Outcast. Their unstructured experience is, however, invaluable in certain situations that may be confronted by their home Craftworlds, and they often assist their fellow Eldar as Rangers when war calls and knowledge of the outlying galaxy and its myriad alien races is required. Most Outcasts manage to slake their wanderlust during a couple of decades of travel and adventure around the galaxy, and eventually return to the safety of the Craftworld and the Paths. For others, the call of this freedom is too strong and they become Eldar Corsairs, little different from their Dark Eldar kin in their penchant for raiding the commercial shipping and planetary settlements of the "lesser races" in search of valuables and slaves.
As astonishing as it may sound, there have also been instances of Dark Eldar who, sickened by a constant existence defined only by malice and the infliction of pain and misery on other sentients, have sought out the solace of the Paths amongst their Craftworld cousins, giving up what is considered the Path of Damnation for something more constructive.
Path of the WarriorEdit
The Eldar as a race are beset on every side by warfare. The Eldar would prefer that it were not that way, for Eldar generations are born all too few and far between, and what remains of the race cannot afford to lose any more of their reduced numbers. Young Eldar often believe that they can rebuild their lost but once glorious empire with fire and passion, but the Seers know well that what remains of the Eldar's ancient civilisation is locked in a simple battle for survival.
When the Eldar go to war, they do so as a group of specialists who perfectly complement one another's assigned tactical role in combat. Each unit plays its own part with masterful skill, their abilities combining to produce a true symphony of destruction and careful grace that is distinctively Eldar. From the most numerous horde to the the mightest enemy war engine, there is an Eldar squad with the skills and wargear that is perfectly suited to the foe's destruction. Combined with the prescience of the Farseers and the strategic skill of the Autarchs, even a small Eldar strike force can devastate its opponents before they can muster an effective counter-attack. The Eldar martial ideal is to slaughter their foes without suffering a single loss of their own, for the usurpers of the galaxy are many and the remaining Eldar are few; their lives far more precious. They cannot afford to throw away their lives in the reckless manner of the brutish warriors who serve the "lesser races" like the Mon-Keigh and the Orks.
The Path of the Warrior teaches the arts of death and destruction. Due to the inherent dark side of the Eldar psyche, this Path calls to almost all Eldar at some point in their long lives. Exactly what will draw an Eldar onto the Path of the Warrior, to put on his "war mask" as the Exarchs say, is uncertain. Perhaps it is the recognition of the innate destructive impulse in the dark side of their psyche that only the ritual training and vicious combat of this Path can purge. In ages past, the Phoenix Lords taught the arts of war to both male and female Eldar, and as such, Eldar Aspect Warriors come equally from both genders. As with many of the more complex Paths, the Path of the Warrior is divided into many different specialisations. Each these is known as a Warrior Aspect, representing a different facet of the Eldar God of War Khaela Mensha Khaine, and bringing with it unique fighting disciplines, wargear and abilities.
The Aspects differ greatly from one another in their methods of warfare, and offer many specialist skills intended to allow them to carry out specific tactical roles on the battlefield. Each Aspect present on a Craftworld maintains at least one Aspect Shrine in which its adherents can practice the master of their version of the Path of the Warrior. When the Eldar of a Craftworld go to war, the Aspect Warriors fight in the predetermined manner associated since ancient times with their Phoenix Lord and their Aspect Shrine. They have their own warrior garb and wargear, distinctive ritual battle armour and highly individualised weaponry. Their minds and bodies are honed with endless exercise, both physical and spiritual, until they become suffused with the aspect of Khaine that their Aspect Shrine is intended to honour. The Aspect Warriors do not live in the Aspect Shrines, and when they "take off their war masks" they can live in peace within their Craftworld. Only the keepers of each Aspect Shrine, the Exarchs, are forced to live within them. Some Aspect Warriors are unique to specific Craftworlds. Others are common to almost all of them, including the Fire Dragons, Howling Banshees, Eagle Pilots, Striking Scorpions, Dark Reapers, Dire Avengers, Warp Spiders, Bright Lances, Swooping Hawks, and the most recent to be recovered, the Shadow Spectres.
An Eldar who has become lost upon the Path of the Warrior is called an Exarch. Such a fate does not befall an Aspect Warrior quickly or easily, but the repeated exhilaration of battle can act like a dangerous drug upon a warrior's psyche. Aspect Warriors learn how to control their warrior-selves, putting on and casting aside their "war mask" as they don or discard their ritual Aspect Armour. An Aspect Warrior who becomes an Exarch loses this crucial ability to dissociate himself; to take off his "war mask." This inability has serious consequences because an Exarch's only impulse is to wage war; all other feelings are subordinated to that single, savage desire. The Exarchs are the high priests of Khaine and the keepers of his Aspect Shrines. Exarchs do not leave their shrines except in times of war or high conclave. Even the smallest Aspect Shrines are extensive structures with areas dedicated to training, instruction and the necessary rituals. Each shrine has its own armoury, and its own inner sanctum where the Exarchs administer the rites of war before the altar of the Bloody-Handed God. It is there that the Exarchs recite the battle songs of old and mark their warriors' bodies with runes of blood before they don their battle armour for war. In this way, the Exarchs are the priests and guardians of the Aspect Shrines, as well as armourers and martial instructors who will guide their fellow Eldar upon the Path of the Warrior.
Every Exarch wears an elaborate and often ancient version of the battle armour for his Aspect. This armour boosts his already superhuman combat abilities with ancient and arcane Eldar wargear, and integrated into his armour are the Spirit Stones that contain the departed souls of all of the armour's previous Exarchs, as a Craftworld's Infinity Circuit does not wish to absorb the souls of those who are unable to remove their "war masks." Each Exarch assumes the original sacred name associated with his armour and his own soul mingles with those of all the other Exarchs who have worn it since his Aspect Shrine's inception, becoming a single gestalt personality with memories and experiences stretching back over many millennia of battle. Thus, an Aspect Warrior who suffers the curse of becoming an Exarch is reborn as an ancient warrior hero of his people. Memories and experiences of departed Exarchs merge with the new bearer, and the heroic ideal of that Aspect is reborn once more. An Exarch's weapons are invariably potent and their combat abilities are far more developed than even the already honed warrior skills of their Aspect Warriors. It is the presence of this large pool of Exarch souls and the raw psychic energy that they produce that gives the Exarch Armour and the warrior who wears it, for the two have become indistinguishable, their incredible battle prowess.
Path of the SeerEdit
Seers are essentially the most potent form of Eldar psykers. They are members of the Eldar race who have passed through the many different Eldar Paths, which allows them to master the full power of their minds and thus command their psychic powers without fear of attracting daemons or creating rifts within the Warp when they unleash their abilities in their most potent form. Those that pursue such disciplines are said to walk down the Path of the Seer or the Path of the Witch where they gain proper training and experience in the use of their naturally potent psyker abilities.
The development of their powers comes through the use of special Seer Runes that are made of Wraithbone and kept in special bags or cases. These items can be thousands of Terran years old and passed from one Seer to the next with new runes being added by each Seer to use the item. In addition, these Eldar wear Spirit Stones that hold the souls of dead Seers who serve as spirit-guides who can help their charge master the Path of the Seer whilst protecting them from the dangers of the Warp. These spirits are the ones who gather the power of the Warp and channel it through the Runes in order to provide psychic energy to the Seer. Through this manner, both the Spirit Stones and the Runes serve essentially as psychic "fuses" that protect the vulnerable Eldar mind from the great power of the Warp as the Seer channels it to produce various potent effects.
Every Seer explores their psychic potential in their own way, with some learning to move objects through telekinetic force and to create living symphonies of shape as well as movement. Others instead use their talents for psychic empathy for healing purposes or to counsel others in psychic pain. The range of abilities open to a Seer is vast and largely dependent on the other roles the Seer has explored and mastered whilst walking the Eldar Paths. An example of this can be of an individual who lived the life of an Artisan or Bonesinger and then learned to apply their psychic powers to the structuring and arrangement of matter into various edifices needed by their Craftworld once they began to walk the Path of the Seer.
Farseers are the most powerful of the Eldar psykers who were once Warlocks but have become lost upon the Path of the Seer forever in the same way as the Exarchs are wed forever to the Path of the Warrior. A council of the most powerful Seers generally governs a Craftworld. Farseers possess a diversity of psychic specialities with divination being the most common skill. There are two other types of Eldar Seers: Warlocks and Spiritseers. Warlocks are Seers who follow the Path of the Seer but have not been lost to it, and have previously traveled the Path of the Warrior. They use their powers to assist other Eldar in battle, shielding them from harm and attacking their enemies. Spiritseers are Seers who specialise in communication with the dead; unsurprisingly they are most prevalent within Iyanden and sometimes lead squads of Wraithguard in combat.
The role of the Farseer in Eldar society is to look into the future and try and discern the best course for the Eldar to take. This is done through the casting of Rune Stones, fragments of Wraithbone and other psychosensitive materials that react to the convoluted, probabilistic skeins of space-time. By reading the throw of these stones, the Farseers can often determine what will be the most beneficial course of action, though it is rare that they can discern true results any great distance into the future. On occasion, a powerful Farseer will receive a portent of some calamitous event, and be able to steer the Eldar away from disaster and doom. With so few Eldar remaining, the Farseers attempt to preserve every Eldar life they can.
However, this ability to see the future and react upon what is seen has caused the Eldar to be distrusted by other races. Occasionally, a Farseer will see that by attacking a certain world, fleet or base, Eldar lives will be somehow saved from a future calamitous event; Eldar forces will then suddenly attack unannounced, and quickly withdraw as soon as their goal has been accomplished. This, along with the Eldar tendency to view all other intelligent races as inferior, has led other sentient species to deem them as fickle, aloof and untrustworthy. Also, the most powerful Farseers have even shown the ability to steer future events so that other races fight each other rather than the Eldar — one of the greatest examples being when the famed Farseer Eldrad Ulthran of Ulthwé (a Craftworld which places greater emphasis on the Path of the Seer) secretly facilitated the rise of an obscure Ork Warlord named Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, who would eventually become a significant enemy of the Imperium of Man.
The Farseers lead in times of war as well as peace. On the battlefield their powers of precognition allow them to foresee the enemy's attacks and movements and warn their comrades against imminent changes on the field of battle. While less capable of foreseeing events in such harried conditions, the Warlocks, especially those who have already spent time as an Aspect Warrior, will often serve as officers in battle, leading units of other Eldar and helping to coordinate the overall battle, as well as to lend support utilising their considerable psychic powers.
As many Farseers age however, their bodies slowly turn into a form of psychically active crystal, a transformation caused by their constant exposure to the chaotic energies of the Warp. When the time has come for this transformation to be completed, they go to the Dome of Crystal Seers that is present within every Craftworld and join the crystalline bodies of the Farseers that came before them.
A Warlock is an Eldar Seer or psyker who previously walked the Path of the Warrior as an Aspect Warrior of the Eldar Craftworlds and now uses his potent psychic powers to help lead Eldar warhosts. Warlocks who lose themselves upon this path ultimately become Farseers. The most aggressive and warlike of all the potential variants of the Path of the Seer is that of the Warlock. Since Warlocks are Seers who once trod the Path of the Warrior, their previous experience as Aspect Warriors allows them to harness their more destructive impulses when using their psychic powers in combat. The ornate helmets worn by Warlocks in the field are kept in the shrines of the Warrior Aspects as a sign of the close link between Warlocks and their former status as Aspect Warriors. A Warlock can only attain that status by returning to the Aspect Shrine that he once belonged to and receiving his helmet from the shrine's Exarch as part of the same blood-ritual undergone by Aspect Warriors.
A Warlock not only learns the use of the psychic runes of war but also how to wield the Witchblade, a powerful Eldar Force Weapon. Witchblades writhe and twist with living runes of the Eldar Lexicon that focus the inherent power of the Warlock's mind into destructive psychic energy using a helical psychic matrix that runs through the core of the blade. In the hands of a Warlock, a Witchblade strikes with a devastating burst of psychic force that can incinerate an enemy where he stands.
Whenever the Craftworld Eldar go to war their Warlocks accompany their forces of Aspect Warriors and Guardians. They use their psychic powers both to protect the Eldar Warriors and to wreak havoc among their foes; a thought-wave from a Warlock can instil courage in his comrades or sear the souls of the Eldar's enemies. Though not as psychically powerful as Farseers, few of the psykers found among the other intelligent species can equal the arcane might of an Eldar Warlock or match their combat prowess with the power of the Warp.
Those rare Warlocks who specialise in summoning and guiding the spirits of the Eldar dead that exist within the Infinity Circuits of the Craftworlds are known as Spiritseers. Their role in combat is to direct and command the Eldar Wraithguard and Wraithlord units that are deployed in the more dire military situations faced by the Craftworlds' forces. Both of these types of Eldar units are Wraithbone constructs that are animated by a Spirit Stone at their hearts that holds the soul of a dead Eldar. The use of such units is is seen as little better than engaging in necromancy amongst the majority of the Eldar, but the practice is tolerated because the Eldar's low population makes reliance upon their dead a necessity if the race is to survive in its weakened state. Spiritseers' special training has hardened their own souls against the danger of becoming too enthralled by their command over the dead and thus actually becoming a true necromancer. The use of the Wraithguard and the Wraithlords is used only as a last resort by the Craftworlds and only when their Farseers believe that they face the direst threat. Spiritseers are more common among the Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden as this particular Craftworld has a very small population and even fewer Warriors following the assault upon it in 992.M41 by the Tyranid Hive Fleet Kraken.
Path of the OutcastEdit
At times, the rigid constraints of the Eldar Paths prove intolerable even for an Eldar to bear; such individuals leave their Craftworlds behind and become Eldar Outcasts. Many Eldar spend many standard years or decades as Outcasts before they return to the Eldar Paths, if ever. Outcasts must bear the terrible burden of their heightened Eldar consciousness and emotions without the psychic protection offered by the discipline of the Eldar Paths. Set free within the galaxy, Outcasts are dangerously vulnerable to all manner of hazards. Their psychically powerful minds are beacon to daemons and in particular to She Who Thirsts. Only Eldar of especially strong willpower can survive for long as Outcasts. After years of adventure and wandering, or sailing the sea of the void aboard the Eldar Corsair fleets, most Eldar Outcasts eventually return to the safety and security of the Eldar Paths.
There are many different kinds of Eldar Outcast. They leave their Craftworlds and live elsewhere, often wandering the galaxy and visiting the worlds of Mankind or the Exodites. They are welcome aboard other Craftworlds only briefly, for their minds are dangerously unbound and can attract predators from the Warp. Daemons and other Warp entities can home in on the mind of an Outcast and then lodge in the psycho-supportive environment that is a Craftworld's Wraithbone core, perhaps even threatening the Infinity Circuit itself. Outcasts are also disruptive in another way, for their presence can distract the young and inexperienced from the Paths due to their romantic tales of freedom and adventure amongst the stars.
Some Eldar yearn for the undiscovered vista of open space. They join fleets of exploration and disappear into the untravelled reaches of the Labyrinthine Dimension that is the Webway. Most never return, though a lucky few return home laden with alien treasures. They also bring tales of new, alien worlds, extraordinary discoveries and great battles fought at the very edge of the galaxy. It is not unknown for the humans of the Imperium of Man to come into contact with Outcasts, for these are the only Eldar a human is likely to meet anywhere in the galaxy that is not a battlefield.
The wildest of all the Outcast Eldar become Corsairs and raiders. They often contune to trade with and visit their home Craftworld or the Exodite worlds whilst plundering the vessels of humans, Orks and even Eldar of other Craftworlds. They may even act as mercenaries, hiring out their services to alien species, while many of their voyages of exploration can soon turn into military ventures in search of a profit. As their homes and the memory of the Eldar Paths become increasingly more distant, the naturally wild and often amoral character of the Eldar in their natural state can resurface. Eldar pirates are quick-tempered and unpredictable, equally inclined to benevolence in one moment and bloody slaughter in the next. Corsair fleets such as the Eldritch Raiders, the Steeleye Reavers and the Sunblitz Brotherhood are greatly feared by the people of those star systems they return to plunder again and again.
To the ignorant, which usually means humans, there is little that can be used to distinguish between the Eldar of the Craftworlds, the Corsair fleets of Outcasts and the true Dark Eldar raiders. All are seen by Mankind as a constant, elusive alien menace that can bring sudden death to the unwary. On occasion, Eldar Corsair fleets will join with the vessels of a Craftworld to defend against a common threat, while at other times a Craftworld may aid its Corsair cousins in a mission against alien vessels, all of which adds to the common belief amongst most humans of the Imperium that the Eldar as a whole are nothing more than an untrustworthy and feckless race of pirates.
The wanderlust that ultimately lurks in the heart of every Eldar can be expressed in many forms. Some Eldar of the Craftworlds leave for the Exodite worlds, where they live for many Terran years amongst the Exodite tribes, though they are rarely, if ever, fully accepted by their insular hosts. Other Outcasts prefer to become Rangers and travel from world to world to experience all that the wider galaxy has to offer. These Rangers send news of what is occurring in the wider universe back to their home Craftworlds whilst they search for the ancient lost treasures of their race and their own spiritual enlightenment. Many of these Eldar simply lose themselves in the Webway, where they are occasionally discovered by the Harlequins or wash ashore on the deadly banks of the Dark Eldar's realm of Commorragh, the perilous Dark City. Whatever they may experience or achieve while they are away, an Eldar Outcast who returns to his Craftworld and takes up the Paths once more will be welcomed back with open arms as the prodigal son or daughter, all of their sins forgotten as they take up the required disciplines of Eldar life once more.
The Path of the Seer and the Path of the Warrior are just two of the many Paths to which Eldar may choose to devote themselves. Some of these other roles are very clearly defined, with their own traditions and behavioural patterns. Others are less structured and offer less guidance to the individual in how best to perfect them. They allow a relative amount of freedom and rely on the inner strength that the Eldar has already attained during the course of his journey along other Paths. These Paths involve mundane roles such as serving as technicians, civil administrators, Bonesingers, colonists, traders, explorers, etc. Regardless of their civilian roles, these Eldar still take part in battle as Guardians and in other functions as necessary in any military force.
- Path of Awakening - The Path of Awakening is a Path upon which the Eldar learn how to closely analyse their surroundings and environments. Those who have mastered this Path can notice things that would seem insignificant or impossible to see, even to a normal Eldar. The Path of Awakening is the polar opposite of the Path of Dreaming, as it focuses on looking without rather than within. The Path of Awakening is usually a prelude to the pursuit of the Path of the Artisan.
- Path of the Artisan - The Path of the Artisan is a relatively common Path for an Eldar. There are many sub-specialisations along the Path of the Artisan, such as the Path of the Poet, the Path of the Musician, the Path of the Sculpter, the Path of the Painter, and so on. Even within each of these minor Paths there are conflicting schools of style, such as the School of Hithrinair, which teaches that the artist should become as much a part of his art as he can be, with its followers often bleaching their skin and marking themselves with stylistic tattoos to show that they have become one with their craft.
- Path of the Botanist - The Path of the Botanist is a specialised extension of the Path of Service and includes gardeners, farmers and all who concern themselves with tending the enormous quantity of plants living within an Eldar Craftworld, many of them the last surviving species of one of the lost Eldar homeworlds.
- Path of Command - The Path of Command is for those Eldar with a passion for military command and the desire to develop complex military strategy and grand strategy. Its members are the Autarchs who tread this Path to better command larger forces of Eldar warriors and who lead the entire military forces of their Craftworld when a threat makes itself known. Before an Eldar can tread the Path of Command, he or she is expected to have completed several other Paths already, including at least once the Path of the Warrior.
- Path of Damnation - Little is known of the Path of Damnation other than that it exists, and the Eldar refuse to speak about it amongst themselves and certainly not with outsiders. What is known is that the Craftworld Eldar believe that their Dark Eldar cousins chose to walk this Path, unwittingly or not. It can be surmised that the Path of Damnation allows an Eldar to benefit from the same psychically protective benefits of the other Eldar Paths, but instead of pursuing a productive discipline, they absorb the psychic energies generated by inducing pain and torment in other sentient beings. By feeding on this energy they can prevent their own soul from being consumed by Slaanesh and maintain their physical vigour unimpeded indefinitely, but the price is nothing less than damnation, a pursuit of the same course of hedonistic and sadistic excess that destroyed the original Aeldari civilisation and led to the Fall.
- Path of the Dreamer - The Path of the Dreamer is a meditative path undertaken by many Eldar in which the Eldar learns to control and direct their dreams. An Eldar Dreamer can stay entranced within their own directed dreamscapes for days at a time. During these dreams it is usual for another Eldar Dreamer who is more expert at this path to act as a "Dream Watcher", to ensure that the Dreamer does not starve by remaining in his dreamscape for too long a period.
- Path of Grief - The Path of Grief is a Path in which one grieves for the death and suffering at Eldar remembrance services and funerals, essentially transforming the Eldar into what other cultures would consider a professional mourner. This Path allows the other Eldar to remember their lost loved one or friend without succumbing to the potentially violent and all-consuming emotions that would be in violation of the entire philosophy of the Eldar Paths and tempt the wrath of She-Who-Thirsts.
- Path of the Healer - The Path of the Healer is pursued by those Eldar who find spiritual satisfaction in bringing living things back to full wellness. Eldar Healers include all physicians, surgeons and what humans might consider biomedical researchers.
- Path of the Mariner - Those Eldar who embark upon the Path of the Mariner serve as the crewmen and officers of their home Craftworld's fleet of starships. Those who seek this Path out often wish to see the sights of the galaxy and also seek inner peace after a period in which they have felt lost. The Path of the Mariner is also known as the Path of the Steersman.
- Path of the Outcast - The Path of the Outcast is the Path, paradoxically, of those Eldar who abandon the disciplined life of the Eldar Paths. Those who desert the Eldar Paths are known as Outcasts on the Craftworlds. The intensely potent and volatile Eldar mind sometimes rebels against the highly structured delineation of achievement which the Eldar Paths offer. Without the protection of the Eldar Paths an individual is likely to eventually succumb to self-destructive urges. The worst fate of all for an Outcast is to fall to the Path of Damnation, but no Eldar will speak of this aberration and so almost nothing is known about it save that they believe it is the Path walked, unknowingly or not, by their Dark Eldar kin. Sometimes young, inexperienced or disgraced Eldar leave their Craftworlds to wander among the stars. Most of the time such Outcasts become Rangers. Some eventually return to their Craftworlds and to the safety of the Paths. Those who are unable to return, for one reason or another, perhaps because they become lost upon the Path of the Outcast, eventually become the Rangers known as Pathfinders. Other Outcasts become pirates, raiders, and Eldar Corsairs.
- Path of the Scholar - Eldar Scholars are those Eldar who find fulfillment only in mastering a specific area of academic knowledge and then passing this knowledge along to other Eldar who are travelling this Path or who wish to benefit from understanding the discipline. Eldar on the Path of the Scholar includes all those of their kind who create or transmit knowledge, including teachers, scientific researchers, archaeologists, etc.
- Path of the Seer - The Path of the Seer, also sometimes referred to as the Witch Path, is the longest, most treacherous, most complex, and least trodden of all the Eldar Paths. Its members are the potent Eldar psykers known collectively as Seers. Spiritseers are specialists in the handling of the Spirit Stones that are necessary for the raising of the Eldar combat walkers known as Wraithguard and Wraithlords. Warlocks are those Seers who previously served along the Path of the Warrior and now lead the Eldar warhosts into battle. Bonesingers are Seers who use their psychic talents to manipulate the growth of Wraithbone. The Farseers are those Eldar Warlocks that have become lost upon the path of the Seer, and are the most powerful Eldar psykers of all. The ultimate fate of a Farseer is to become wholly part of the Craftworld as a Crystal Seer and join his or her peers in the Dome of Crystal Seers. Amongst all the Eldar Paths, this is by far the most difficult and dangerous one to tread.
- Path of Service - The Path of Service is a Path in which Eldar give themselves over to the direct service of others, finding in such activity both spiritual fulfillment and the knowledge that the labour they do is necessary for their Craftworld to continue to thrive. Though most of a Craftworld's economy is fully automated, there are still some personal services that require physical labour, and it is to these tasks that those who tread the Path of Service seek to apply themselves. Eldar take up the Path of Service out of the same sense of duty that inspires others of their kind to take up the more militant Paths. They perform jobs the Humans may describe as menial, including such roles that provide basic services to the Craftworld community, i.e. cooks, clothesmakers, manual labourers, etc.
- Path of Shaping - The Path of Shaping is a specialisation of the Path of the Artisan, closely linked to the Path of the Seer. It is undertaken by those Eldar who become Bonesingers, the skilled artisans who are part psyker, part artist and part engineer. Bonesingers train their innate psychic powers to create and mend all of the constructs of Wraithbone used by the Eldar. Wraithbone is a solidified substance crafted out of the psychic energy of the Warp that is the primary substance used to construct almost all Eldar edifices, artifacts and starships.
- Path of the Thought Talker - A Thought Talker is an Eldar telepath who is trained to function as both an interpreter between Eldar and other intelligent species and as an ambassador to these beings for his Craftworld. A Thought Talker does not need to known his interlocutors' languages; he simply transmits his meanings directly into their minds using a conceptual language that any intelligent being can understand as long as their minds and conceptions of reality are not too radically different from that of the Eldar.
- Path of the Warrior - The Path of the Warrior is trod by those who become the Eldar's Aspect Warriors. Those who lose themselves upon this path become the Exarchs. Some Aspect Warriors are unique to specific Craftworlds. Others are common to almost all of them, including the Fire Dragons, Howling Banshees, Eagle Pilots, Striking Scorpions, Dark Reapers, Dire Avengers, Warp Spiders, Shining Spears, Swooping Hawks, and the most recent to be recovered, the Shadow Spectres. It must be mentioned that Eldar Guardians are not following the Path of the Warrior even though they engage in combat on behalf of their race. They are actually pursuing other, more "civilian" Paths, and are summoned or called up as a militia force to fight for their Craftworld for the duration of a given emergency.
- Codex: Eldar (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 14, 35
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pp. 9-11
- Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition), pp. 7-20
- Path of the Warrior (Novel) by Gav Thorpe, Prologue (Quote)
- White Dwarf 127 (UK) (As reprinted in Warhammer 40,000 Compilation), "Warhammer 40,000 Eldar Army List," pp. 13-50
- Warhammer 40,000 Compilation (1st Edition), pp. 184-198
- Shadow Point (Novel) by Gordon Rennie