- "Let not the fear of death stay your hand nor defeat your courage. The warrior who will prevail is the one who conquers death, who becomes one with death as we have."
The Dark Reapers are the most menacing of the Eldar Aspect Warriors. They exemplify the Eldar War God Kaela Mensha Khaine in his aspect as the Destroyer, and their skull-masked costume echoes that of their founder and Phoenix Lord, the "Harvester of Souls," Maugan Ra. They specialise in the use of highly-destructive, long-range heavy weaponry.
When Asurmen taught his brethren the arts of war it was Maugan Ra that fell furthest from the fold. He fashioned baroque weapons of occult nature; not the blades of his brethren but dark and malefic artefacts that could slay his foes from afar. As his craft progressed, Maugan Ra learnt that even the mightiest weapon could be wielded with surgical precision. This led to the creation of the deadly Maugetar, the Harvester, and later to the disciplines of the Dark Reaper aspect itself.
The origins of the Eldar Aspect can be traced to Craftworld Altansar and the Fall of the Eldar, following the birth of the Chaos God, Slaanesh. Altansar rode out the psychic shock-waves that destroyed the Eldar realms but was subsequently caught in the gravity well of the Eye of Terror. Although the Eldar of Altansar fought valiantly against the encroachment of Chaos, they were unable to escape their inevitable doom, and within 500 Terran years of the Fall their Craftworld was swallowed by the Warp. Nothing remained of Altansar except for Maugan Ra, the mightiest Exarch of Altansar's Shrine of the Dark Reapers. The Dark Reapers represent the War God Khaine in his role as the Destroyer. They are perhaps the most sinister and lethal of all the Aspect Warriors and their dark armour is adorned with symbols of death and destruction.
The Dark Reapers' Aspect Armour is the colour of midnight, and incorporates a complex set of interlocking plates. Although the Dark Reapers are comparatively slow-moving compared to other Eldar warriors as a result of their heavy armour, this is of little consequence, for their role on the battlefield is to serve as long-ranged heavy weapons fire support for the more mobile Eldar units. The Phoenix Lord of the Dark Reapers, Maugan Ra, teaches that the kiss of death can be delivered from afar. It is this credo that is central to the way of the Reaper. Their sacred weapon is the Reaper Launcher, a long-barrelled missile weapon that can create a blistering firestorm of small missiles with a single salvo. The small armour-piercing missiles the Reaper Launcher fires are powerful enough to take down all but the most heavily protected of foes.
The Dark Reapers pride themselves on their accuracy. To absorb the recoil of firing the Launcher and maintain a steady firing position, the powered limb supports include lower leg armour and boots fitted with stabilisers and clamps to secure the Dark Reaper to the ground. Their helmet incorporates specialised rangefinding sensor vanes which extends out of the helmet of their Aspect Armour and allows a Dark Reaper to achieve target lock on even fast-moving vehicles. This also creates a mind-link with the Dark Reaper's weapon, allowing them to "see" out of the muzzle of the launcher. The resulting increase in their already deadly accuracy means it is almost impossible for a Dark Reaper to miss his target. Their superb aim enables them to dominate the battlefield, pinning down enemy forces and destroying their chosen targets at will.
The downside to all of their extra equipment, along with the weight of their heavy weapon, is that Dark Reapers are slower and less mobile compared to other Aspect Warriors. However, as their primary tactical role is to provide long-range fire support, this is not seen as significantly detracting from the Aspect's combat effectiveness. Operating in squads of three to five Dark Reapers, one of which may be an Exarch, these units are usually positioned in cover behind the main Eldar battle line, where they can best support the advance of friendly troops and target the enemy's heavy assets. For added mobility the squad can also be mounted in a Wave Serpent transport.
Notable Dark Reapers ShrinesEdit
- Shrine of The Jade Scythe - Dark Reapers of the Jade Scythe have perfected the art of obliterating as many foes as possible in a single application of overwhelming firepower. Where their warriors take to battle, the ranks of the enemy fall in droves in the face of their sinister economy of force.
- Shrine of The Three Deaths - The Shrine of the Three Deaths seeks to eradicate its foes from all planes of existence; to slay the foe in realspace is to them merely one step on the true path of destruction. Even the Dark Eldar with whom they often associate hold a certain respect for their commitment to total annihilation.
Dark Reaper ExarchsEdit
Every Aspect Shrine of the Eldar is led by an Exarch, an Eldar who has been called permanently to the Path of the Warrior. An Exarch has traveled so far down the Path of the Warrior that he or she can no longer leave it and so dedicates him or herself fully as a high priest of Khaine in service to the Aspect of the War God that he or she represents. Exarchs wear more elaborate and ornate versions of Aspect Armour which incorporates the spirits of their past wearers, granting an Exarch not only wisdom and knowledge stretching across the millennia but a raw pool of potent psychic energy that can be used in combat.
This permanent acceptance of the Eldar's "war mask" provides Exarchs with enhanced skill and dedication to their craft and entitles them to access their Shrine's oldest and most advanced wargear. As a result, an Exarch of the Dark Reapers wears a more formidable form of Dark Reaper Aspect Armour and instead of a Reaper Launcher, can wield a number of different special weapons, including an Eldar Missile Launcher, a Tempest Launcher and a Shuriken Cannon. The skills and wargear of a Dark Reaper Exarch exemplify the already deadly firepower and accuracy that defines their Aspect. A Dark Reaper Exarch's inhuman combat abilities surpass even the talents of regular Dark Reapers, as a Dark Reaper Exarch is perfectly capable of laying down a lethal hail of fire more rapidly without loss of accuracy from any weapon they wield, and of landing pinpoint shots so accurate they can bypass cover and hit targets who thought themselves fully protected.
The Phoenix Lord and founder of the Dark Reaper Warrior Aspect is Maugan Ra, the "Harvester of Souls." Maugan Ra came from the once-lost Eldar Craftworld Altansar, one of the many Craftworlds, both large and small, that survived the Fall of the Eldar, following the birth of the Chaos God, Slaanesh. Altansar rode out the psychic shock-waves that destroyed the Eldar realms but was subsequently caught in the gravity well of the Eye of Terror. Although the Eldar of Altansar fought valiantly against the encroachment of Chaos, they were unable to escape their inevitable doom, and within five hundred years of the Fall their Craftworld was swallowed by the Warp. Nothing remained of Altansar except for Maugan Ra, the mightiest Exarch of Altansar's Shrine of the Dark Reapers.
- Aspect Armour - Like other Eldar Aspects, Dark Reapers wear lightweight synthetic bodysuits, reinforced with plates of psycho-sensitive bioplastics that will instantly harden to resist impacts. As well as absorbing impacts, those plates can morph their shape in accordance with the wearer's movements, meaning the armour does not encumber the wearer in the slightest, affording good protection with excellent mobility. The Dark Reapers pride themselves on their accuracy. To absorb the recoil of firing the Reaper Launcher and maintain a steady firing position, the powered limb supports include lower leg armour and boots fitted with stabilisers and clamps to secure the Dark Reaper to the ground. The reinforced breastplate of the Aspect Warrior's armour bears his Spirit Stone, a precious item for all Eldar. This psycho-receptive gem is attuned to the individual so that at the moment of death, when the Eldar's psychic spirit is released, it is captured instead within the stone. Otherwise it is believed by the Eldar that the spirit would be released into the Warp, where the Chaos God Slaanesh, "She Who Thirsts," awaits to consume it. Contrary to popular belief, the small domes and blisters on the Dark Reaper Aspect Armour are not extra gems, but small compartments that contain the suit's technical systems. A tabard is a common addition to the Dark Reaper's Aspect Armour. Its runic inscriptions name the shrine for which the Aspect Warrior is fighting and identifies the shrine's allegiance to its particular Craftworld.
- Aspect Helmet - Each Eldar warrior Aspect has its own distinctive helmet, and within each Aspect Shrine the helmet may vary in form slightly, with correspondingly more elaborate versions for the shrine's Exarchs. For a standard Dark Reaper, the helmet incorporates a death mask, marking them out as the harbingers of death and destruction. Their helmet incorporates specialised rangefinding sensor vanes which extend out of the helmet of their Aspect Armour and allows a Dark Reaper to achieve target lock on even fast-moving vehicles. By custom, it is this helmet that marks the Aspect Warriors as the protectors and avengers of their Craftworld. It bears the Aspect's rune Dralith, the mark of Maugan-Ra, traced upon its forehead.
- Reaper Launcher - The Dark Reapers are the undisputed masters of delivering death from afar, therefore they incorporate the use of the Reaper Launcher, a weapon that is unique to the Dark Reapers' Aspect Shrines. This long-barrelled Missile Launcher can create a blistering firestorm with a single salvo. The armour-piercing missiles it fires are powerful enough to take down all but the most heavily protected foe. Like most Eldar technology, the weapon is psychically activated, and its resonant Wraithbone construction is sensitive to the Eldar's innately psychic mind. A Dark Reaper's launcher is linked to its targeter via the handle. This creates a mind-link with the Dark Reaper's weapon, allowing the warrior to "see" out of the muzzle of the launcher. The resulting increase in their already deadly accuracy means it is almost impossible for a Dark Reaper to miss his target. Their superb aim enables them to dominate the battlefield, pinning down enemy forces and destroying their chosen targets at will. The Reaper Launcher's pan-spectral targeter operates independently of the user, finding and tracking multiple targets and feeding target information directly to the helmet display. It is likely that it can also differentiate between enemy and ally. Other functions are unknown.
- Tempest Launcher - Dark Reaper Exarchs utilise an ancient form of Reaper Launcher that fires clusters of small Reaper Missiles in an arc. Whilst individually, they are weaker than standard Reaper Missiles, they have a significant area of effect to compensate for this.
- Codex: Eldar (7th Edition), pp. 108-110
- Codex: Eldar (6th Edition), pg. 36
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pp. 34, 66
- Codex: Eldar (3rd Edition), pg. 16
- Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition), pg. 10
- White Dwarf 172 (US), "The Eldar: The Path of the Warrior - Dark Reapers", pp. 5-16
- White Dwarf 138 (US), "Alaitoc Craftworld Eldar Army - Dark Reaper Exarch", pp. 20-29
- White Dwarf 127 (US), "Eldar" by Rick Priestley, Jes Goodwin, William King & Lindsey D. Le Doux Paton, pp. 13-52
- Games Workshop Online Store - Eldar Dark Reapers
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