- "Only when you have soared through the morning skies on wings of flame can you understand the Hawk. Only when you have fallen screaming upon those who know they are already dead can you understand the Banshee. Only when you have annihilated those who would oppose you can you truly understand the power of the Dragon. And only one who has travelled but ultimately turned away from each of these paths can understand the Autarch."
- — Anthrillien Morningchild, Autarch of Yme-Loc
An Autarch is one of those few members of the Eldar species who have mastered many of the Eldar Paths over the centuries, including one or more facets of the Path of the Warrior. They possess a consummate understanding of the art of war and serve as the supreme commanders of an Eldar Craftworld's warhost. This Eldar Path, known as the Path of Command, is pursued by highly skilled individuals who believe martial excellence can be achieved by gaining a wider perspective of battle that allows the Eldar warhost to achieve victory in the most efficient and lethal way possible.
Autarchs do not limit themselves to the single-minded specifications required of a single Path like most Eldar. The Autarch possesses an unparalleled strategic ability which far outshines an Exarch's obsession with only a singular facet of war. This enables an Autarch to lead a warhost that operates in perfect unison, with each component of the Eldar war machine functioning in perfect synchronicity. It is not only at the aspect of command that an Autarch excels, for they are consummate warriors as well, and often spearhead assaults, fighting an enemy army's leader in personal combat or contemptuously destroying war machines with ease. Autarchs are considered integral parts of Eldar culture due to their versatility and ability to lead the Eldar on the myriad paths of life and death.
Compared to humans, the Eldar are incredibly long-lived. In the ancient past, this xenos race learned the dangers of unfettered indulgence, much to their loss, and so their society is now rigidly structured around the concept of the Paths of Life. Over the course of their long lives, Eldar choose many different Paths, not moving onto another until they have mastered their current choice. The Paths most familiar to Imperial scholars are the Paths of the Warrior and the Paths of the Seer. Following the Paths of the Warrior, an Eldar choose one Warrior Aspect of their war god, Kaela Mensha Khaine, and pursue it to total mastery. Most of these warriors then put aside their armour and weapons and pursue a new Path, completely unrelated to warfare and violence. Rarely, an Aspect Warrior becomes lost on the Path, forever trapped within the pursuit of martial superiority; these warriors become the dreaded Exarchs, the leaders and high priests of the Warrior Temples.
Even rarer, however, are those Eldar that do not become lost along the Warrior Path, but rather develop a deep fascination with all elements of warfare and conflict. Often these Eldar master one Warrior Path only to leap to a different Warrior Path, mastering that as well. Frequently they master many different Paths, becoming utter experts in the Eldar arts of war. They develop a passion for wider tactical studies and elaborate strategic planning. Specialists and scholars in all forms of warfare and conflict, these Eldar attain the highest military rank for any of the Craftworld warriors: the Autarch.
On the battlefield these beings are the supreme commanders of the Eldar warhosts. An Autarch oversees every battle from its initial planning stages to the final, killing blow. Despite maintaining a wider view of events, the Autarch is still a fearsome warrior in his own right. Because of their background on the Path of the Warrior across many different temples, the Autarch is familiar with a dizzying array of weapons and wargear, and can easily adapt to whatever roles the current battle requires.
Notable Autarchs Edit
- Athanwe Illunivar - Athanwe Illunivar, also known as the Scourger of Serator Prime is fearsome in his defence of the Eldar, their ancient sites, and their artefacts, and has brought many an inquisitive Rogue Trader to ruin. In recent history, Illunivar appears to have become a major guardian of sites and locations sacred to the Eldar, in particular throughout Winterscale’s Realm in the Koronus Expanse. Illunivar’s complete destruction of the Rogue Trader Pietro Ironarm’s flotilla in orbit around Valcetti’s Salvation marked the intensifying of Eldar aggression in the region. Ironarm’s flotilla had followed years of research that indicated the hidden location of an ancient xenos crash site on Salvation. Soon after the first survey craft had landed, however, a wave of Eldar assault ships attacked, destroying all of the ships in orbit. The Rogue Trader’s forces still on the ground were annihilated by an overwhelming force of Aspect Warriors, led by Illunivar himself, his Swooping Hawk wings allowing him to descend upon Ironarm as he fled into the desert.
- Nyathuren Kith-menras, the Wandering Scholar - Most often alone, Nyathuren travels from planet to planet compiling a collection of all knowledge concerning ancient battles. All of her research revolves around mankind’s earliest wars within the region, and she has amassed vast amounts of knowledge from that period, but she does not part with her wisdom lightly. To beg for her assistance is often more dangerous than to meet her in open combat. A Rogue Trader desperate enough to brave the Scholar’s wrath, however, many seek out Kith-menras when all other options have been exhausted, but most come to regret the decision. After years of fruitless searching for any news regarding his father’s lost fleet, Rogue Trader Josef Sendaarin sought the guidance of Kith-menras. Though she proved almost as elusive as the information he originally hunted, Sendaarin finally tracked down the Eldar war-sage on the battlefield world of Zayth. None know the price she exacted from this desperate scion of a once-noble family, but he returned to Port Wander a broken man and has not spoken of his father since.
- Surinthiel Mihrendelas, the Collector - From Port Wander to the Rifts of Hecaton, from the Frozen Sisters to Aubray’s Anvil, Mihrendelas can be found, tracking down rumours and legends of ancient xenos artefacts. Ruthless in the extreme, no price is too high and no sacrifice too great in the pursuit of these artefacts. Several Rogue Traders have been utterly ruined through the acts of Mihrendelas, their only crime being in his way. Renowned Rogue Trader Bradfreid Craven was rendered all but destitute when he was stranded on Solace Encarmine, his ship destroyed in orbit when Mihrendelas created a new asteroid field from the planet’s third moon in search of a legendary artefact. No one knows if the xenos was successful or not.
The more complex an Eldar rune, the more meaning it can carry, as with the rune of the Autarch, which denotes both the aggression of the warrior and the insight of the leader in perfect union.
- Codex: Eldar Craftworlds (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 50
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pg. 29
- Rogue Trader: The Koronus Bestiary (RPG), pp. 58-59