- "Trust not in their appearance for the Eldar are as utterly alien to good, honest men as the vile Tyranids and savage Orks. They are capricious and fickle, attacking without cause or warning. There is no understanding them for there is nothing to understand -- they are a random force in the universe."
- — Imperial Commander Abriel Hum
The Eldar are an ancient alien race whose vast empire once expanded the width and breadth of the known galaxy. Their empire was without equal, and they counted themselves masters of the stars. But millennia ago, their overweening pride and their fall into hedonistic practices led to a cataclysm that all but eradicated their kind and led to the birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh. Despite their boundless power, the heart of their civilisation was torn out by this catastrophe of their own making, forcing the surviving Eldar to flee upon gigantic starships called Craftworlds. Now they cling to survival by a thread, fighting the horrors of the galaxy with ritualised discipline and consummate skill. Though highly advanced and feared across the galaxy, the Eldar are a dying race -- a shadow of their former glory -- their race teeters on the brink of annihilation.
The ancient history of the Eldar stretches back over the millennia to a time when they dominated the stars completely. Yet, for all their splendour and might, the Eldar brought a terrible curse upon themselves that sundered their empire forever, leaving the ravaged fragments of their race teetering on the brink of annihilation. All of the Eldar alive today are essentially a refugee population, the scattered remains of a formerly vast interstellar empire. Even in such straits, however, they are still a deadly and influential force in the galaxy. Once, over ten thousand years past, the Eldar were perhaps the most powerful race in existence, dominating a significant portion of the galaxy and secure in their prosperity. Although there were other intelligent races who possessed advanced technology and potent military power in the galaxy, none were in a position to seriously threaten the state of the Eldar empire. When it came, the disaster for the Eldar people was self-inflicted.
Lost in the vastness of space, the Craftworlds float in utter isolation like scattered jewels upon a pall of velvet. Distant from the warmth of sun or planet, their domes gaze into the darkness of empty space. Inner lights glisten like phosphorus through semi-transparent surfaces. Within them live the survivors of a civilisation abandoned aeons ago amidst terrifying destruction. These are the Eldar, a race that is all but extinct, the last remnants of a people whose mere dreams once overturned worlds and quenched suns. The starfaring history of the Eldar is long indeed, and encompasses glories and sorrows alike. When their empire was at its height, their homeworlds were paradises, their powers godlike and their armies unsurpassed. As the centuries slid past, their status as lords of the galaxy bred an arrogance that led to a cataclysmic end. A proportion of their race survived that dark time by fleeing from disaster upon the great vessels known as craftworlds. Others settled verdant planets far from the heart of their empire, and still more hid in private realms of their own making. Yet there was no real escape from what was to come.
Children of the Stars
Over a million years ago, they alone ruled the stars as the undisputed masters of their own destiny. Such a position was their right, they thought, and their preeminence was beyond doubt. In many ways, the Eldar had good reason for such hubris, for no other race had posed a serious threat to their wealth and stability for time immemorial. They were convinced that they no longer had anything to fear from the galaxy at large, and they may have been right, but the real danger came from within. The doom of the Eldar, when it came, took a form far more subtle and dangerous than that of alien invasion. At that point in Eldar history, nothing was beyond their reach and nothing was forbidden. The ancient race continued their glorious existence unaware or unwilling to acknowledge the dark fate that awaited them. They plied the stars at will, experiencing the wonders of the galaxy and immersing themselves completely in the endless sensations that it offered them. Such was the technological mastery of the Eldar that worlds were created specifically for their pleasure, and stars lived or died at their whim.
On hundreds of idyllic planets seeded across the stars, the Eldar pursued their inclinations as they willed, indulging every dream and investigating every curiosity. They mastered the labyrinth dimension of the webway, expanded their realms into the furthest corners of reality and learned much about the universe that has since been forgotten. When their spirits eventually left their mortal bodies they dissolved peacefully back into the aether to be reborn again, for the Warp did not thirst for Eldar souls then as it does today. There were, of course, many wars. Even when the galaxy was young there were upstart races seeking to gouge out petty empires of their own, and the Eldar waged wars against the sprawling Necron dynasties that ravaged dozens of star systems and cost trillions of lives. Most of these conflicts, though, were so short-lived that the ease of their victory left the Eldar ever more sure of their ascendancy. Even the greatest of all their wars, known in the mythic cycles of the Craftworlds as the War in Heaven, did not humble them. In their hearts the Eldar reigned supreme, and no other power could end their dominance.
Descent into Decadence
The catalyst that brought about the Eldar race's fall came from the very depths of the Eldar's collective psyche, the innate need to fuel their passions and indulge in every extreme. The Eldar had long outgrown the need for labour or manual agriculture. Society provided all that was required without individual effort, leaving long centuries for the Eldar to spend sating their every desire. Fuelled by an inexhaustible curiosity, many gave way to their most hedonistic impulses. Exotic cults sprang up across the Eldar domains that eclipsed the noble pursuits of old, each dedicated to esoteric knowledge or sensual excess. The core of the Eldar race began to look inwards, inexorably seeking new ways to explore the full range of emotion and sensation. With no need to perform substantial work or labor, the Eldar began to pursue their curiosities and desires with all the dedication that only their species could muster. In the later days of Eldar civilization, cults devoted to exotic knowledge, physical pleasures, and ever-more outrageous forms of entertainment sprang up. It did not take long for many of the Eldar to pursue a darker path to achieve instant fulfillment as they came to revel in unbridled hedonism and violence. Such behaviour was perilously decadent and, in the end, corrosive to the soul of the race. The pursuit of excess gradually became a blight upon the whole society.
Many of the Eldar grew uneasy with the actions of their comrades, and the wisest of the Seers warned that this path could lead only to evil and suffering for the entire species. As the cults gained a tighter hold over their society, the Eldar became increasingly divided. Those who saw the foulness that corrupted their people for what it was became known as Exodites, fleeing to found colony worlds on the fringes of the Eldar empire. As the civilisation slid further into anarchy, others repented of their ways and left the central worlds of their empire to settle in the outlying regions of the galaxy, where they built great worldships called Craftworlds. Other Eldar stayed on the homeworlds to try and alter the path their race had taken. Most continued to glut themselves on the pursuits of the depraved.
The heartfelt sorrow of those left who mourned the loss of innocence eventually turned to bitterness and spite. In time, brother fought brother, and sadistic killers stalked the shadows in search of victims for their vile lusts. No life was spared in the pursuit of pleasures both murderous and perverse. A sickness of vice overtook the Eldar race, and blood flowed through the streets amidst the bestial roar of the crowd. Their hidden realms within the webway became sprawling palaces of avarice and sadism, and entire worlds were bent to the pursuit of the darkest of sensations. As the moral corruption of the Eldar race tightened its stranglehold, echoes of ecstasy and agony began to ripple through time and space. In the parallel dimension of the Warp, the reflections of these intense experiences began to coalesce, for the shifting tides of the Empyrean can take form around intense emotion. Slowly, silently, a nascent god of excess grew strong in the depths of the Warp.
Birth of a Dark God
The torture cults eroded the future of the Eldar as a viable galactic empire. While this debauchery would have been destructive within any society, it was even more damaging for the Eldar because of their powerful psychic abilities. Within the parallel dimensional realm of the Warp, the psychic emanations of these perverse activities began to gather, strengthened by the souls of departed Eldar hedonists and cultists. As the Eldar's vices grew, this dark mass of negative psychic energy did as well, producing the terrible Warp storms that defined humanity's Age of Strife and made all interstellar travel and communication impossible for the human colonies of this period. What an unimaginably foul and sickening thing it was that the Eldar unknowingly raised in the Warp; it was a dire shadow of themselves, of what they had become, of nobility and pride brought low by perversity and shamelessness. Worlds burned as the Eldar slew and laughed and feasted upon the corpses of the dead. Slowly, the Great Enemy stirred towards wakefulness. Too late, the Eldar realised that they had created a god in their own image, a god grown immense and potent by suckling upon the dark fodder of the Eldar spirit. Eventually, this growing mass of negative psychic energy came into a life of its own and came to consciousness over ten thousand years ago at the end of the Age of Strife as the newborn Chaos God Slaanesh, the Devourer of Souls and the doom of the Eldar. When Slaanesh finally burst into divine consciousness, there was not one Eldar alive who did not feel its claws in his soul. With a howl of raw power, Slaanesh roared into supernatural life. A psychic implosion tore at the universe. The psychic scream of Slaanesh's birth tore the souls from all the Eldar within a thousand light years of it, sparing only those sheltered in the wraithbone hulls of the Craftworlds. Countless billions of Eldar screamed aloud and fell dead. In a heartbeat, the shining Eldar civilisation that had lasted for aeons had its heart ripped out, leaving a pulsing afterbirth of pure chaos in its place. The spirits of the Eldar were drawn from within them and consumed as their blasphemous creation took its first infernal breath. Intoxicated with this draught, Slaanesh laughed and looked upon a universe ripe for the taking.
The Death of an Empire
The epicentre of the psychic apocalypse lay within the gilded heart of the Eldar realms. All Eldar within thousands of light years were reduced to lifeless husks, their souls forever claimed. Even those who had foreseen the catastrophe and fled upon the Craftworlds were overwhelmed, with only those furthest from the devastation surviving. The remote Exodite worlds remained largely untouched, but within the space of a single moment, the Eldar had become a doomed people. Their nemesis was born and would hunt them for the rest of eternity. Though the psychic shockwave focused upon the Eldar, billions of humans, Orks and creatures from other races were obliterated as well. Warp space convulsed as a cosmic hurricane raged across the galaxy. The fabric of reality was torn apart and the Warp spilled from the dimensional rift into the material universe, turning hope into despair and paradise into hell. Psykers of all races howled with pain as their people died in storms of blood and madness. The roiling wound in realspace spread outward until it completely encompassed the Eldar realms of old. This gaping lesion would come to be known as the Eye of Terror; the largest area in the galaxy where the Warp and the material universe overlap. Within its reaches Daemons bathe in the raw energy of the Warp, whilst Daemon Princes and the worshippers of Chaos rule over Eldar planets turned into nightmare worlds of fire and darkness.
For ten thousand long years before the Fall, the Warp had been riven with storm and tempest, making it almost impossible for the vessels of the lesser races to travel between the stars. With the birth of Slaanesh, the Warp was becalmed, its rage temporarily spent. A new equilibrium was reached as Slaanesh joined the ranks of the Chaos Gods. With the Warp storms around ancient Terra dispersed, the Emperor of Mankind was able to launch his Great Crusade. A new power took its place in the galaxy as isolated human worlds from across the stars were united under the same banner. In this way, the Fall of the Eldar heralded the rise of the Imperium, and Mankind inherited the stars.
The Fight For Survival
In the aftermath of the Fall, the Eldar have faced a long and painful decline. On far-flung planets teeming with natural life, the Exodites have carved themselves a survivalist niche. Savage, primal places where everyday life was hard, these realms helped the Exodites to remain focussed on the ascetic lifestyle they had chosen. At first, many of their number fought and died against dangerous aliens such as the greenskinned Orks and even the soldiers of the nascent Imperium, but many others survived, reaching equilibrium and living in harmony with their adopted worlds. In the darkness of space, the remnants of the Eldar empire cling onto what was left of their once-mighty culture, preserving the art and architecture of their people within the craftworlds and passing their ancient history from generation to generation via song, dance and the recital of myths and parables. Aboard their continent-sized vessels, these fragments of the Eldar race sail the sea of stars, always seeking to stay one step ahead of She Who Thirsts and to somehow survive in a galaxy more hostile than ever.
Cloistered deep within the hidden city-realms of the webway, those survivors who concealed themselves in their palaces of depravity still revel in the debauched lifestyle that led to the Fall. In that twilight realm between the material universe and the Warp, the Dark Eldar mock and jeer those ravaged by the downfall of their race. Even though they would never admit it, they know in their hearts that, try as they might to allay their fate, Slaanesh will claim them in the end. The slow decline into powerlessness is what the Dark Eldar fear most of all, for in birthing Slaanesh from the endless tides of the Warp, the Eldar have created their greatest enemy. Slaanesh, in its dire awakening, has developed a taste for the souls of the Eldar. Where before, when an Eldar died, they would pass peacefully into the Warp in order to be reborn, now they face eternal torment, for Slaanesh has a perverse and twisted appetite that can never be sated. Unless extraordinary measures have been taken to prevent it, whenever an Eldar dies, Slaanesh will be waiting on the other side to consume him. She Who Thirsts will not rest until it has claimed every Eldar soul in the galaxy. The Eldar are doomed, and they know it well.
The Time of Ending
As if the unnatural hunger of a voracious and sinister god was not a dire enough threat, the Eldar must also contend with a galaxy no longer theirs. In the bloody wake of the Fall, the race of Mankind has grown to preeminence. The Imperium has ascended, conquering much of the galaxy in the name of the corpse-god it calls Emperor. The Eldar, whose maturation patterns span nearly a century, cannot compete in numbers with a race whose generations multiply with the frantic pace of vermin. Raw manpower is the Imperium's greatest strength, but also its weakness. The teeming armies of Mankind, carving up the galaxy with the enthusiasm of a demented butcher, have swept aside many dangers whilst stamping their mark upon the stars. In the process they have awoken many more. Now, more than ever, the gods of Chaos find the galaxy ripe for conquest, for weak-willed humans make easy playthings, and they are truly without number. The Eldar see in Humanity their own failings and fear the bitter destiny that they will reap, for the race of Man unknowingly feeds the Dark Gods with their constant wars and the rich fodder of emotion that results.
The Ork race has spread across the galaxy from end to end, fighting with insane vigour purely for the sake of violence itself. The greenskin race has become so prolific that many Eldar seers believe it has reached critical mass, their numbers too large for even the most protracted cull to have any real effect. Should the Ork hordes unite their efforts, all the artifice and cunning of the Eldar would not be enough to stop them from drowning the galaxy in blood.
As the 41st Millennium draws to a close, new foes and old emerge in force – foremost amongst them, the invasion fleets of the Tyranids. As hostile and inimicable to life as a plague made flesh, the Hive Mind has crossed the interstellar void purely to feed. Each Craftworld and Exodite planet represents a bounty of biomass the Hive Fleets covet greatly. They will expend billions of weapon-beasts in order to devour Eldar realms, fashioning ever deadlier creatures from the remains of their foes. However, at least the Tyranids are confined to the fringes of the galaxy. Not so the Eldar's oldest enemies. From their tombs the dread Necrons awake -- nigh-immortal foes from before the Fall, their lords eager to renew their timeless war against the Eldar race. For those Eldar who yet survive, war is their only hope. Their foes -- both new and old -- lack the technology, wisdom and skill of the Children of the Stars; in numbers alone are their enemies insurmountable. Even when staring extinction in the face, the Eldar will not flee nor yield. They are a proud race, determined that the flame of the craftworlds blaze brightly once more rather than flicker and die out.
Anatomy and Physiology
Superficially, the Eldar appear very similar to humans in their anatomy, although the comparison can only be made on a superficial basis, for in their minds and souls the Eldar are truly alien. The Eldar stand taller than a man, with longer, cleaner limbs and handsome, striking features. Their skin is pale and unblemished as polished marble, yet with a surprisingly supple strength hiding beneath it. Their keen ears are pointed and their slanted eyes possess a penetrating quality more akin to that of a hunting cat than a man. The most fundamental difference can be seen when the Eldar move, for they each radiate an inhuman elegance and poise. This is especially evident in the sinuous grace with which they fight and the dexterity with which they field their weaponry. Every gesture is laden with subtle intent, and their reflexes are dazzlingly fast. A casual, languid gesture can end in a pinpoint thrust should the necessity arise. On closer inspection, every aspect of the Eldar physiology betrays their alien nature. Their hearts beat at twice the speed of a human's, and their minds race through possibilities and process emotions so fast that even the so-called geniuses of human history appear dull by comparison. Even their lives are greater in span -- the Eldar enjoy lives of rich sensation and wonder that can stretch over a millennium, unsullied by illness, frailty or disease. All Eldar can manipulate mental energies to a degree. Each is psychic to one extent or another; it is said the ancient Eldar could read thoughts at a glance, whilst those who trained their minds for war could crush a foe's weapon with a simple narrowing of their eyes. Even the complex technology of their race is based upon psychic engineering, the manipulation of and even creation of matter using mental energies alone. But such raw power has its price.
The Eldar mind is far more inclined towards extremes than that of a human. To an Eldar, all of life's experiences are available on a far grander scale: the individual rewards of study, the exhilaration of battle, and every imaginable pleasure or sensation in-between. An Eldar will at some point climb the most noble peaks of accomplishment, just as he will plunge into the darkest abyss of doubt. Their capacity to experience emotion enables them to attain transcendent bliss or, in contrast, experience soul-wracking sorrow. This spiritual intensity is writ large throughout their culture, manifesting in sublime works of art and music, but also giving rise to a darkness that threatens to engulf them all. No creature, not even an Eldar, can taste such rich fruits in an uncontrolled way without consequence; for an Eldar to yield absolutely to his desires would destroy him. Such was the fate of their ancient empire, whose depravities brought about the Fall of the Eldar race itself.
The Eldar are quite long-lived by human standards, and most will live for more than a thousand standard years unless they die from accident or disease. As a species, the Eldar have a universally high level of psychic ability, which also serves as the foundation of their technology, though a side-effect of this neurological make-up is that an Eldar experiences emotion, both pleasant and painful, far more intensely than any human being. The Eldar that actively cultivate their psychic potential seem to exhibit a much-extended lifespan as well, one proportional to their prowess. In this way the leaders and Seers of the Eldar may live for several thousand standard years. One matter of note is that the Eldar have sometimes referred to humans as "mammals" typically with a derogatory label in the Eldar Lexicon like "the Mon-Keigh", implying that for their part, the Eldar evolved from something else, something more advanced than the primates that are the ancestors of Mankind.
The Eldar's physical attributes and physiology indicate that they are descended from a wide range of potential ancestors that include aquatic organisms or avian creatures, although some type of reptile seems most likely (despite their current humanoid appearance, the Eldar's ancestors may not have had a head with two eyes, or an upright body with two arms and two legs at all considering they were genetically altered by the Old Ones!) However, given the Eldar's legendary arrogance, this may also simply be a way for them to put themselves above the other intelligent races of the galaxy, particularly the humans who are currently the most dominant intelligent species, much to the Eldar's disdain. The Eldar likely see themselves as completely separate from the normal classifications of animal groups. Indeed, they may not even have naturally evolved at all, as they are actually the genetic creations of the Old Ones, much like the Orks, created to defend the galaxy and the Old Ones' civilisation from the depredations of the Necrons and their C'tan masters.
No other race has ever replicated the Eldar's unique approach to technology, nor have the Eldar taken learnings from the "primitive" races that have inherited the galaxy. The brutality and ignorance of Mankind appals the Eldar, whilst the aloof arrogance of the Eldar race fosters little trust in others. Eldar technology adheres closely to natural biological shapes and structures. This is quite understandable, as there is no real difference between technology and nature in the Eldar mind -- they are a single process by which the Eldar imbue living things with function and functional things with life. The materials the Eldar use in their engineering are complex and varied ectoplastics that can be formed into solid shapes under psychic pressure. In some respects they are more like living tissue than inert substances, growing and reacting to their environment in a similar way to plants. The completed device or artefact may work in a conventional manner, but is operated by psychic means. The greatest of the materials the Eldar employ is called Wraithbone: an immensely resilient substance that is grown rather than made, more resilient than Adamantium and far more flexible. When a wraithbone construct is damaged, it will gradually repair itself, a process that can be accelerated by the psychic chanting of a Bonesinger. Because of this, the greatest war-constructs are made almost entirely from wraithbone, giving them extreme durability and strength.
Unique Eldar Technology
- Shuriken Weapons - The standard weapon of the Eldar military forces are Shuriken guns, weapons that use gravitic forces to fire thin discs only a single molecule thick at the enemy.These discs are so thin that they are usually fired in bursts. The Eldar use these weapons in the form of pistols, cannons, and a light carbine known as a Shuriken Catapult.
- Spirit Stone - When the Eldar die, their souls are in danger of being devoured in the Warp by the Chaos God Slaanesh. To prevent this, the Eldar created special Spirit Stones, which capture and contain the psychic energy that comprises their souls at the moment of death. These stones are then collected and inserted into a Craftworld's "Infinity Circuit", where they may rest along with the spirits of their ancestors. In times of need, the soul stones of the Craftworld's strongest warriors may be taken from the Infinity Circuit and placed inside Wraithbone automatons such as the Wraithguard, Wraithlord and Wraithknight, to once again fight in defence of the Craftworld.
- Webway - The Eldar cannot travel through Warpspace in the same way the starships of the Imperium do, because they lack the equivalent of Navigators, making the trip extremely dangerous for a journey of any more than a few light years at a time. Instead they rely on a system of transportation through the Warp known as the Webway. The Webway is best imagined as a vast and tangled network of doorways connected through the Warp between fixed points in real space, by which the Eldar can travel far more rapidly than most races.The Webway's technology is based on that of the Old Ones, who first developed a very similar system of transportation using Warp Gates and imparted the technology to the Eldar after their creation. However, if there is not a Warp Gate near an Eldar's destination, or the one present is not big enough to permit the necessary forces to pass through, they are at a disadvantage. Much of the Webway has fallen into obscurity and disrepair, with tunnels and doorways sealed or broken. This often forces the Eldar to make connecting stops on their way to their destination. Finally, it is said that the fabled Black Library, a storehouse for all the accumulated knowledge of the Eldar about Chaos, resides somewhere within the Webway, though only the Harlequins know exactly where.
- Wraithbone - This is the main construction material of the Eldar, and the staple of their psycho-technic engineering. It is brought forth into the physical world from the Warp and shaped by Bonesingers through the use of their psychic power. It is used to create the Craftworlds of the Eldar, their tanks and other vehicles, constructs such as the Wraithguard and Wraithlords, as well as their weapons, tools and armor. Wraithbone is a psychically conductive material and so not only provides the structure for things built of it, but also can be used for power distribution and communications. Wraithbone is a highly resilient material, and capable of limited self-repair when exposed to psychic energy. It, and the other building materials of the Eldar, will grow and react more like organic tissue and plants than the inorganic building materials of other races.
- Blackstone Fortress - The Blackstone Fortresses were originally created by the Old Ones as weapons in the first war against the C'tan, and were known to the ancient Eldar as the Talismans of Vaul. To capitalise on the C'tan's vulnerability to psychic attacks using Warp energy, the Fortresses were equipped with a Warp-cannon that could create a devastating rip in physical space and an eruption of psychic energy out of the Immaterium. The fortresses have since fallen into the hands of the Imperium and the Chaos Space Marines, and have influenced two of the most recent major wars of the Imperium of Man, during the Gothic War and the 13th Black Crusade.
The Eldar Path
As protection against the lure of excess, and to guard against any recurrence of the Fall, the people of the craftworlds adhere to a set of strictures known as the Path. Through the rigid emotional discipline of the Path they master their inclination towards sensation-seeking, instead focussing their prodigious intellects and energies upon the pursuit of one specific goal. Since the Fall, those Eldar who fled upon the Craftworlds have faced their inescapable doom. The battles they have fought in the name of survival have been many and violent. Yet their most important struggle is a spiritual one, for the nature of their psyche remains fundamentally unchanged. As ever they were, the Eldar are prone to emotional extremes. Perhaps the greatest difference between the ancient Eldar and their descendants is that the Craftworlders have learned to fear wanton experience, shunning the indulgences of the past. To ensure temptation is put behind them, the philosophy often called Ai'elethra, or the Path, governs every aspect of Craftworld life, enabling the Eldar to harness their emotional and intellectual intensity safely, without jeopardising themselves or those around them.
In adult life, every Eldar chooses for himself a discipline that he then makes his task to master to the exclusion of all else. Each discipline is a Path unto itself, and each Path may necessitate further choices and specialisations. Once an Eldar has walked a Path for long enough, he chooses another, then another. Though he forsakes each Path in turn, his soul is nourished by the experiences upon it. An Eldar may tread many different Paths in his life, and the skills he learns on each journey serve to enrich further accomplishments. To the Eldar, all avenues of experience are strewn with dangers, for their minds are capable of depth and understanding that goes beyond the concept of mere human obsession. Such dangers are often likened to traps or nets, waiting to catch the unwary and hold him fast in the chains of compulsion. When an Eldar's mind becomes so completely focused upon one thing that he can no longer make the change to another discipline, he is said to be lost upon the Path. This is a frightening and final fate for all Eldar, and it can befall any of their kind despite the discipline and training that they receive. In the case of the Warrior Path, these individuals are called Exarchs, though there are examples that correspond to other Paths, such as the Crystal Seers and the doomed Bards of Twilight.
There are innumerable Paths open for an Eldar to explore; some as common as the Path of the Artisan, others as rare and dangerous as the Path of the Seer. Each offers its followers a complete way of life. Those Eldar who have mastered the less esoteric Paths are no less respected than their brethren. After all, the artisans are those who create the Craftworlds themselves and their contents, calling masterpieces into being with the care a musician lavishes upon his harp or a warrior upon his sword. It is from the ranks of those upon "civilian" Paths such as these that the Guardian militia are mustered in times of need.
The Path of the Warrior
The Eldar are a race beset on all sides by warfare. Would that it were not this way, for Eldar generations are few and far between, and they can ill afford to lose their numbers. Young Eldar often believe they can rebuild the glory of their empire with fire and passion, but their elders know well that their shattered civilisation is locked in a struggle for simple survival. Because of this unavoidable truth, more and more Eldar walk the Warrior Path with every passing year. The Path of the Warrior teaches the arts of death and destruction. Such is the dark nature of the Eldar psyche that the Warrior Path draws most of them onto it at some point in their long lives. In aeons past, the ancient Phoenix Lords taught the arts of war to both males and females, and as a result Eldar warriors are as likely to come from either sex.
As with many of the more complex Paths, the Warrior Path is divided into many separate branches. Each of these is known as a Warrior Aspect, representing a different facet of the war god Khaine, and bringing with it unique fighting techniques, weapons and abilities. The Aspects differ greatly in their methods of warfare, and offer specialist skills for specific battlefield roles. Each Aspect upon a Craftworld keeps at least one shrine in which to practice the mastery of their Warrior Path. When the Eldar go to war, the Warrior Aspects fight in a predetermined role associated with their shrine. They have their own warrior garb, a form of ritual battle suit, and distinctive weaponry, ranging from the fusion guns of the Fire Dragons to the sleek Nightshade Jetfighters of the Crimson Hunters. Their minds and bodies are honed with endless exercise, both physical and spiritual, until they become suffused with the Aspect of Kaela Mensha Khaine that their shrine represents. The Aspect Warriors do not all live in the shrines, and when they put aside their ritual masks and uniforms, they can walk at peace through their Craftworld. Only the keepers of each shrine, the Exarchs, live within them, unable and unwilling to escape. Some Aspects, such as the Slicing Orbs of Zandros, are unique to a specific Craftworld. Others are common to most, with the most famous and well-established being the Dire Avengers, the Howling Banshees, the Striking Scorpions, the Fire Dragons, the Swooping Hawks, and the Dark Reapers. In battle, each unit plays its own part with the skill of a virtuoso, their singular abilities combining in a symphony of destruction that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
From the most numerous horde to the mightiest enemy war machine, there is a cadre of the Craftworld's warriors with skills and weapons suited to its annihilation. Combined with the prescience of the Farseers and the strategic genius of the Autarchs who command the warhost, even a small strike force can devastate its opponents with little fear of reprisal. The Eldar ideal is to eradicate those who oppose them without a single loss from their own ranks, for the usurpers are many and the Eldar few. They cannot afford to throw away their lives in the manner of the cruder races they face. Every Eldar lost in battle will have been sacrificed because there was no other choice, and at great cost to the enemy, for in comparison the lives of other races are worthless.
The Path Abandoned
Sometimes the rigid constraints of the Path are intolerable even for an Eldar to bear. Such individuals leave their craftworlds and voluntarily become Outcasts. Many Eldar spend years or decades in exile before they return to the Path. During this time, they must bear the terrible burden of their heightened consciousness without the protection of rigid self-discipline. Their psychically-sensitive minds are a beacon to predatory daemons and in particular to the Great Enemy Slaanesh, so only Eldar of especially strong character can survive for long. After years of adventure, wandering, and sailing the seas of space, most Eldar eventually return to the sanctuary of the Path.
There are many kinds of Outcast, each with a varying degree of dissociation from their kin. They leave their craftworlds to carve out lives elsewhere, often wandering the galaxy and visiting the worlds of Men or the Exodites of the Maiden Worlds. These inscrutable nomads are welcome aboard Craftworlds only briefly, for their minds are dangerously unguarded and can attract predators from the psychic realms of the Warp. Outcasts are also disruptive in another sense, for simply by their presence they can distract the young and inexperienced from the Path, as romantic tales of travel and freedom follow in their wake. Some Eldar yearn for the undiscovered vistas of open space. They join fleets of exploration and disappear into the untrammelled warp space tunnels of the webway. Most do not return, though a few come home laden with alien treasures. They bring tales of new worlds, fabulous discoveries, and battles on the edges of the galaxy.
The wildest of all the spacefaring Eldar become Corsairs and raiders. They often continue to trade with and visit their craftworld whilst plundering the ships of humans, Orks and even other Eldar. These mavericks may even sometimes hire out their services to alien races, while many a voyage of exploration has turned into a military venture. As home -- and the Eldar Path -- become increasingly remote, the naturally wild and amoral character of the Eldar resurfaces. Eldar pirates are quick-tempered and unpredictable, equally inclined to magnanimity and wanton slaughter. Fleets such as the Eldritch Raiders, the Steeleye Reavers and the Sunblitz Brotherhood are greatly feared as a result.
To the ignorant, there is little to distinguish between the ships of the Craftworlds, the Corsair fleets of Outcasts and those of Dark Eldar pirates. All are seen as a constant, elusive menace that bring sudden death to the unwary. On occasion, Corsair fleets will join with the ships of a Craftworld in response to a common threat, while at other times a Craftworld may aid its Corsair cousins on a mission of war, all of which adds to the illusion that the Eldar as a whole are little more than a race of piratical raiders hell-bent on indiscriminate slaughter.
While the Seer and the Warrior are two of the most visible Paths of the Eldar, there are hundreds of others. Many Eldar will choose the study of an instrument or art form as their Path, while others might devote themselves to the development of a science or the refinement of some technology. These Paths, while equally important to the survival of the Eldar, tend to be far more varied and far less all-consuming than those of the Seer and the Warrior. Notable among the other Paths is that of the Bonesinger; the title given to those that maintain and repair the psycho-active Wraithbone components of the Eldar Craftworlds. Also notable is the Path of the Mariner, the Path followed by those who devote themselves to crewing spacecraft.
Like the shimmering blade of Khaine, Eldar warhosts carve through the ranks of their enemies. Guided by the military genius of their Autarchs and the prescience of their Farseers, they turn their minds to war with a single deadly purpose, dispatching their foes with blistering speed and masterful skill. Grace in battle and merciless efficiency are prized virtues of Craftworld Eldar armies. Eldar warhosts are led by those who epitomise such traits: the Autarchs. These are Eldar who have walked the Path of the Warrior for decades or even centuries, yet resisted the taint of Khaine’s red madness. Theirs is a vital role, for the Autarchs alone tread the esteemed Path of Command. If the Autarchs are the hand that grips the blade, then it is the Farseers who guide its aim. The bond between Autarch and Farseer can shape a warhost, and even if neither takes to the field directly, it is their combined vision that will be the difference between victory and defeat.
Though some Eldar warhosts still comprise only Aspect Warriors, the millennia have taken their toll, and it is now all too common for warhosts to rely upon a core of Eldar Guardians, those who through necessity have donned the mask of the killer despite their Path being one of peace. It is a testament to the Eldars' skill at war that even their citizen militia can overcome the armies of the lesser races. Well motivated and expertly led, even a modest warhost of Guardians can outclass an army many times its size. If in need of a stalwart defence, an Autarch can order Guardian-crewed weapon platforms and eldritch artillery to swathe the battlefield in ash and fire, while Windriders, Storm Guardians and grav-tank squadrons dart in at his behest, providing lightning-swift spears with which to spit his foes. Driven by the peerless skill and obsessive focus of their Exarchs, the warriors of the Aspect Shrines form their own strike forces within the Eldar armies. These are the most adept of all their kin, and Autarchs must use their talents wisely. Like razor-tipped arrows, each one is loosed into the enemy where it might do the most harm. In times of great need, Autarchs can also call upon ghostly legions of wraith-constructs, keen-eyed Rangers, and even the Avatar of the Bloody-Handed God itself. As the 41st Millennium draws to a close, such warriors are forced take the field with disturbing frequency, knowing they must fight, or fade away forever.
Forces of the Eldar
Avatar of Khaine
An Avatar of Khaine is the term normally applied to the physical form that the spirit of an Eldar God has managed to possess and animate. This term is most often applied to the physical body possessed by a fragment of the spirit of the Eldar God of War Kaela Mensha Khaine, though the term can actually apply to any divine entity of the Warp that has found some way to take on a corporeal form within realspace. During the Fall of the Eldar, Khaine fought with the newborn Chaos God Slaanesh shortly after "She Who Thirsts" birth, following the destruction of the other Eldar Gods by the newly emergent Prince of Chaos. During the battle, Khaine's essence was shattered and scattered across the universe, ultimately coming to reside in the psychically-reactive Wraithbone hearts of the remaining Eldar Craftworlds. Wherever his essence landed, a wraith artefact was created, allowing future Eldar to be able to summon the spirit of Khaine back into the Materium to defend his race when a Craftworld faces a particularly dire crisis. The Avatar of Khaine is an ancient god incarnate, and his massive form is fearsome to behold. His eyes glow red as bubbles of fiery ichor burst and solidify upon his incandescent skin. Tendrils of acrid smoke and flying cinders enwreathe him like a dark crown, and thick red gore drips from the fingers of his left hand. Clasped in his right hand is the Wailing Doom, the sacred weapon of the Bloody-Handed God. Summoned to war through arcane rituals, the Avatar marches at the forefront of his army, and the Eldar who march in his wake are galvanised by his sheer bloodlust. Their fear and hesitation is burned away in an instant, replaced by an unholy joy in the anticipation of battle, and a murder-thirst that must be slaked. In those precious moments, the Eldar reach the pinnacle of greatness, transformed from survivors to conquerors once more. A cry of pure exultation echoes across the battlefield. It is then that the killing begins.
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. When an Eldar leaves an Aspect shrine, he abandons its teachings and disciplines, forsakes its weapons and wargear, and absolutely disassociates himself from it in the pursuit of a completely new Path. Not so the Autarch, whose duty it is to learn about each Aspect in turn so that he might better guide them in defence of the craftworld. To this end, the Autarch will join each of his Craftworld's most prevalent shrines for a time, learning all that he can of the rituals, skills and battle doctrines of that Aspect. Once he has taken the teachings of that shrine into himself, he will leave, though he will first participate in a ceremony with the shrine's Exarch known as the Rhaan Lona, or the Covenant of Wargift. In this secretive rite, a selection of weapons, armour and wargear of the shrine are laid out before the Autarch, from which he chooses a single item to take with him on his ritual journey. The Autarch retains this wargear throughout his life, using it -- and the knowledge that it represents -- for the betterment of his craftworld. 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.
A Farseer is the most potent and respected form of Eldar psyker or Seer. The Path of the Seer is the most dangerous and convoluted journey of all, for all psykers are intimately connected to that heinous mirror of reality, the Warp. To proceed along the Witch Path without caution would be to invite damnation, for the minions of the Great Enemy lurk within the Warp ready to rend the souls of overambitious Seers. Even when used wisely, the Path itself can claim an adherent for the rest of his life. Just as Eldar who are trapped on the Warrior Path become Exarchs, so Seers who progress too far along their own Path become Farseers. Masters of prediction, the Farseers are the strangest and most visionary of a Craftworld's advisors. Even in battle they can perform their divinations, casting the complex wraithbone runes of the Eldar into the air and interpreting changes as the glowing icons orbit around them. In this way, the Farseers explore the myriad skeins of present and future, studying the consequences of the smallest decision, the better to guide their people to victory. A council of the most powerful Farseers generally governs a Craftworld. Farseers possess a wide diversity of psychic specialities with divination being the most common skill. They are most often known for using their vast psychic powers to see the possibilities of the future to be able to manipulate events to better ensure the survival of the Eldar species in the wake of the Fall. Unsurprisingly, the primary role of the Farseers is to look into the future and try and discern the best path for the Eldar to take. This is done through the casting of Seer Stones, fragments of Wraithbone and other psycho-sensitive materials that react to the convoluted, probabilistic skeins of space-time. By reading the throw of these stones, the Seers 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 Seer will receive a portent of some calamitous event, and be able to steer the Eldar away from disaster and doom.
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. Perahps because of some hidden mark that Khaine has left on their soul, those Seers who have trained as Aspect Warriors find it easier to develop destructive psychic powers. These individuals become their warrior-seer selves by returning to their old shrines. If his blood sings with the need to fight, a Warlock accepts his mask, and recreates the two-fold division of the mind into self and warrior. 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. In battle, Warlocks often lead from the front, splitting off from their Seer Councils and casting the runes of battle to bolster the warhost and to bring havoc to their enemies. Few can match the arcane might of an Eldar Warlock in the midst of a battle trance, his destructive aura crackling outward to destroy those foes beyond his reach. 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 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 Phoenix Lord is one of the greatest warriors of the Eldar and the leaders of their particular group of Aspect Warriors. Each Phoenix Lord founded one of the Aspect Shrines of the Eldar, and is the embodiment of that aspect of the Eldar War God Khaine. They have transcended the bounds of normal mortality, in a fashion. The spirit of the original Phoenix Lords was infused into a Spirit Stone within their armour, and merges with the current personality of the wearer of that armour, who is always chosen from among the mightiest of the Exarchs of that particular Aspect Shrine. When the Phoenix Lord falls in combat, another Exarch will don the armour and assume the memories and abilities of the Phoenix Lord. However, many believe that the Phoenix Lords are animated suits of armour possessed by the spirits of the dead Exarchs of that Aspect. This theory, however, is contradicted by the existence of Soul Stone technology, which all Eldar make use of to protect their souls from being consumed by Slaanesh within the Warp when they die.
- Asurmen - Asurmen, whose name means the Hand of Asuryan, is the first and oldest of the legendary Eldar Phoenix Lord, those most ancient of Exarchs from whom the Aspect Warriors themselves were created and who are the absolute masters of their Aspect's form of combat. Each is a demigod of battle whose legend spans the stars, imbued with supernatural powers that grant them the ability to cheat death. Asurmen himself is the living embodiment of the warrior, just as the Avatar is the incarnation of the Bloody-handed God himself. Asurmen acts as Asuryan's immortal scion since that Eldar God was devoured by Slaanesh during the Fall. Asurmen led his people into exile, abandoning his homeworld in the Eldar empire to the horrors of the Eye of Terror's birth. It was Asurmen who founded the first of the Aspect Shrines, the Shrine of Asur, the forerunner of the Dire Avengers Aspect. Asurmen is the forefather of the Dire Avengers, most noble and vengeful of all the Aspects. Today, this Warrior Aspect is the most common amongst the Eldar, and their shrines are the largest amongst all the Craftworlds.
- Karandras - Karandras, "the Shadow Hunter," is the Eldar Phoenix Lord of the Striking Scorpions Aspect Warriors. Legends of Karandras the Shadow Hunter tell of one of the most mysterious of all the Phoenix Lords. Unlike his fellow Phoenix Lords, Karandras was not the first of the Exarchs of the Striking Scorpions. It is said that this singular honour belongs to the one that came before him, Arhra, the Father of Scorpions, the most sinister of all the Phoenix Lords. Arhra was lured to darkness and betrayed Asurmen and the other Asurya, the first Phoenix Lords, by bringing daemons into the First Shrine to wage war upon his fellows. Those loyal to Asurmen were defeated and scattered across the stars, but Arhra himself would eventually flee into the Webway, becoming "the Fallen Phoenix who burns with the dark light of Chaos."
- Jain Zar - Jain Zar, "The Storm of Silence," is the Phoenix Lord and founder of the Eldar's Howling Banshees Aspect Warriors. Jain Zar was the first warrior chosen to serve at the side of the first Phoenix Lord, Asurmen, and the first of her race to become an Exarch, those Eldar who can never leave the path of the Warrior for they can never take off the war mask of Khaine.
- Fuegan - Fuegan, "the Burning Lance," is the Phoenix Lord of the Fire Dragons Aspect Warriors, who schooled the first of them in the art of war with fire and flame. He learned the arts of war in the Shrine of Asur, under the eyes of Asurmen in the distant time many millennia ago when the first Aspect Warriors of the Eldar were trained. Fuegan was thought lost when the Shrine of Asur was destroyed by Arhra, the Fallen Phoenix. Fuegan disappeared for many centuries, before reappearing during the final battle at Haranshemash, "The World of Blood and Tears" in the Eldar Lexicon, to fight alongside the Eldar. The eventual fate of Fuegan is foretold in the last stanza of the Asuryata, the legend of the Phoenix Lords, known in full only to the Bards of Twilight. This passage says that it will be Fuegan who calls all of the Eldar Phoenix Lords for the Last Battle, the Rhana Dandra, and the Burning Lance will be the last of his brethren to die in that conflict, when the footsteps of Daemon kings and demigods shake the earth, resulting in the final death of the Eldar race, and their Gods alike as the price for the elimination of Chaos within the Immaterium.
- Baharroth - Baharroth, "the Cry of the Wind," is the Winged Phoenix, the oldest of the Swooping Hawks and the first Exarch of those winged Aspect Warriors. Baharroth is the founder of the Eldar Warrior Path that is represented today by the Swooping Hawks Aspect Shrines. Baharroth is also known for his speed and is said to be the fastest of all the Eldar who have ever lived, a formidable claim that would make him a deadly opponent indeed. Though he moves with the subtlety and grace of a zephyr, he attacks with the force of a hurricane.
- Maugan Ra - Maugan Ra, "the Harvester of Souls," is the founder and Phoenix Lord of the Eldar's Dark Reaper Aspect Warriors. He was the lone survivor of the once-lost Craftworld of Altansar, which was swallowed by the Eye of Terror five hundred Terran years after the Fall. During the 13th Black Crusade, Maugan Ra led a daring raid into the Eye and rescued the remnants of his long-lost home Craftworld, guiding them out of the Eye of Terror and denying Abaddon the Despoiler his ultimate victory over the Imperium of Man.
- Irillyth - Irillyth, "the Shade of Twilight," is the Eldar Phoenix Lord of the long-extinct Shadow Spectres Aspect Warriors. Lost for millennia, the Shadow Spectres were long forgotten and Irillyth's Aspect Shrines were abandoned. During the Betalis III Campaign in 894.M41, the Shadow Spectres of the Mymeara Craftworld returned from the mists of legend and managed to recover the armour of Irillyth, giving the Eldar new hope that other portions of their lost patrimony and culture might one day be recovered.
Striking Scorpions are Eldar Aspect Warriors who epitomise the deadly attributes of their namesake, and they are the most skilled of all the close-assault Warrior Aspects on the Eldar Path of the Warrior. They are merciless killers without exception, reveling in the hunt and the kill, using stealth and shadow to cloak themselves from sight until the moment of attack. The Striking Scorpions represent the wrath of the War God Kaela Mensha Khaine, which can fall without warning and with extraordinary savagery upon his foes. The Striking Scorpions are one of the Eldar Warrior Aspects dedicated to close combat, particularly close combat during infiltration missions in which they must first close with the enemy undetected before unleashing their wrath. Many Striking Scorpions are physically more powerful than standard Eldar, and can match their Dark Eldar counterparts for sheer physical power. The signature attack of the Striking Scorpion is made by the weapon pods housed on either side of the warrior's helmet, known as Mandiblasters. These are small, short-ranged laser weapons used to deliver a deadly energy sting in close combat that can be psychically triggered.
The Fire Dragons are Eldar Aspect Warriors who seek to embody the writhing, sinewy dragons of Eldar Mythology. No Eldar Aspect Warriors revel more in destruction than those who serve the Shrine of the Fire Dragons. Taking as their totem the fierce, fire-breathing creatures of Eldar legend, they epitomise the brutal, wanton destruction of war. When called to arms their goal is the total annihilation of their foes, to the exclusion of all else. Fire Dragons are aggressive and warlike close combat fighters who utilise heat-based weaponry to destroy enemy armoured vehicles and drive the foe from his fortified strongpoints. They have an unsurpassed mastery of their chosen and highly dangerous weapons, and take savage delight in the devastation they create. For this reason, the Eldar believe that the Fire Dragons are the embodiment of the Eldar War God Kaela Mensha Khaine's penchant for pure destruction. It is said that Fire Dragon Exarchs generate a corona of lambent flame around themselves when the battle lust is upon them.
The Howling Banshees are the all-female Eldar Aspect Warriors who specialise in highly mobile melee combat and represent the Eldar War God Khaela Mensha Khaine's ability to instill fear in his foes. The banshee is a harbinger of woe and death in Eldar Mythology. Their cry is said to herald ill fate and can even wrench a soul from its Spirit Stone. It is fitting that these most feared of all the Eldar Aspect Warriors draw their inspiration from this creature. These lightly-equipped warrior-women are fearsome melee combat specialists who draw their inspiration from the unearthly creature with which they share a name. What the Howling Banshees lack in brute strength they make up for with their uncanny and inhuman precision and efficiency. The piercing warcry of these Aspect Warriors has heralded the coming doom of countless enemies of the Eldar people.
A Harlequin, known in the Eldar Lexicon as a Rillietann, is a member of a very distinct sub-group of the Eldar race that belongs to none of the existing Eldar sub-races, including the Craftworld Eldar, the Exodites or the Dark Eldar. They are the keepers of the Black Library and serve the enigmatic Eldar deity called the Laughing God. They are welcomed by all of the other Eldar factions, including the Dark Eldar of Commorragh and the Webway, and are known for their brightly coloured clothing, incredible agility (even for an Eldar), and use of unusually powerful weapons. Harlequins always organise themselves into groups they call Troupes, which are led by a Troupe Master. The Harlequin lifestyle is very like the life of a roaming mime or troubadour of the medieval times. They wander the Webway and occasionally appear at Eldar settlements: on a Craftworld, on Commorragh, an Exodite Maiden World, or even a human world in the Imperium of Man. They perform frenetic, acrobatic dances for the spectators there which are called Masques. Their artistic works portray the Fall, the legendary decline that destroyed the Eldar empire, the birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh, and many other tales from the long history and ancient mythology of the Eldar people.
The Dire Avengers were the first amongst the Aspect Warriors of the Eldar. They represent the Eldar War God Khaela Mensha Khaine in his aspect as the noblest and yet most merciless of warriors. The Dire Avengers show no mercy to their foes and are unwavering in their devotion to their people. These warriors are the least specialised and the most tactically flexible of all the Warrior Aspects, as they serve Eldar armies as elite ranged infantry. The Dire Avengers are also the most common of the Warrior Aspects amongst the Eldar, and their shrines are the largest to be found on all the Craftworlds.
Rangers are the scouts of the Eldar Craftworlds, well-trained survivalists and marksmen able to find the eye sockets and neck joints of even the most heavily armoured enemy troops with their Long Rifles. The most skilled of the Eldar Rangers are known as Pathfinders. In order to defeat the constant claim of the Chaos God Slaanesh on their souls, the Craftworld Eldar practice a form of deprivation, narrowing their entire focus onto a single craft, perfecting it and then moving on to another, a system known as the Paths of the Eldar. Many Rangers remain loyal to their Craftworlds and the kin who live upon them even if they do not feel the need to live there, so when the Craftworld goes to war, they almost always provide their aid, offering to conduct reconnaissance of enemy forces and wield their expert marksmanship to harry and cripple enemy forces and eliminate select targets like commanding officers that will cripple the foe's command and control. While some Rangers never return to their Craftworlds, their lives claimed by the alien dangers of some unknown world or consumed by their own passions and ultimate fall into the embrace of Slaanesh, many others do, scarred and finally ready to settle into another Path, their experiences as a Ranger having granted them both a better understanding of themselves and their place in the Eldar society of their Craftworld.
Guardians are the militia troops of the Eldar Craftworlds. In times of peace the Guardians pursue their normal civilian roles. All adult Eldar, however, are trained in the arts of warfare and can be called to arms if their Craftworld is threatened. It is a painful irony that, in the Eldar race's endless quest for survival, the very civilians the warhosts fight to protect are all too often forced to take up arms. Every Eldar is trained and ready to fight as a Guardian if need be. In some Craftworlds, Ulthwé foremost amongst them, the Guardians are the most common of all Eldar warriors. As the number of dedicated, professional Eldar troops -- the Aspect Warriors -- in a Craftworld are simply too few to meet all threats, those Eldar dedicated to a civilian path serve as Guardians in battle, forming the bulk of the Eldar armies. Guardians are also called upon to pilot and crew the majority of the Eldar’s many war machines, providing vital armoured support and transportation for the warhost in battle. Guardian forces consist of two main types; the tactically flexible Defenders, and the more assault-oriented Storm Guardians. Both are equipped with Eldar Mesh Armour.
Those Guardians who pilot Eldar jetbikes into battle are known as Windriders. So carefully wrought are the incredible machines they ride that a skilled pilot can cross leagues in the space of a few heartbeats before shredding his awed foes with the paired shuriken catapults that allow the jetbike its famously deadly rate of fire. The Windriders are rightfully proud of their mastery of flight. Upon the cowling of each jetbike, the heraldry of the craftworld and sometimes the specific Windrider squadron are emblazoned in pride of place. These colours are invariably bold and defiant, for the Windriders have no fear of the foe, for their steeds mock gravity itself.
The Shining Spears are one of the rarest and most specialised of the Eldar Aspect Warriors. The Shining Spears possess a bright and clear virtue that marks each one out as a warrior hero and a champion of the Eldar race. Eldar mythology is replete with examples of noble heroes at one with their steed and in the Shining Spears, the glories of legend are made manifest once more. In battle, they fight as the Spear of Kaela Mensha Khaine, the invincible weapon of the Eldar God of War that struck like lightning and killed any foe with a single blow. Shining Spears can be distinguished from all of the other Eldar Warrior Aspects for they are the only Aspect Warriors to make use of anti-gravity Jetbikes. The identity of the Shining Spears Aspect's Phoenix Lord Drastanta is not known to Imperial scholars.
The Swooping Hawks are the aerial Aspect Warriors of the Eldar. They wear cunningly constructed anti-gravitic wings that enable them to launch high into the air at a moment's notice. They are able to launch lightning-fast aerial assaults against their foes, cutting them down with the deadly energy weapons known as Lasblasters in a blur of colour. The Swooping Hawks take their name from the wild hunting birds of Eldar Mythology, who symbolise revenge and retribution. Just as these birds of legend contained the spirit of a murdered Eldar, hovering over their killers as a mark of guilt, so too do the Swooping Hawks fly across the battlefield, dealing swift death as retribution to the enemies of the Eldar.
The Warp Spiders are Eldar Aspect Warriors who specialise in the use of a personal teleportation device built into their Aspect Armour to make a series of rapid jumps through the Immaterium that make them nearly impossible to target and allow them to attack the enemy suddenly and disappear before he can strike back. Taking their name from the same creatures who protect the Infinity Circuits of their Craftworlds, the Warp Spiders epitomise the concept of an aggressive defence.
The Crimson Hunters are amongst the most unusual of the Eldar Aspect Warriors. Their ritual wargear is not blade or sidearm, but instead a sleek aerial fighter that represents the pinnacle of Eldar aeronautics. These formidable aircraft, known as Nightshade Interceptors, are just as much a part of the Crimson Hunter's battlegear as the Howling Banshees' Power Sword or the Dire Avengers' Shuriken Catapult. Their lethality, however, is measured on a different scale altogether. The Crimson Hunters are few in number, though their Aspect Shrines are becoming ever more widespread amongst the Eldar Craftworlds. These temples to Khaela Mensha Khaine, the Eldar God of War, are unlike any other. They are not buildings or landscapes at all but tunnel-linked collections of transparent atriums that float around the periphery of their Craftworlds like archipelagos at the edge of a vast landmass.
The Hemlock Wraithfighter is a weapon of utmost terror and is the subject of much controversy among the Craftworlds. To use such a device is to teeter on the brink of atrocity. Only the most dire circumstances could force the Eldar to employ such an abhorrent device, and those who do so have a stain upon their soul that is not easily erased. Yet the Autarchs know that they have little option -- they must use every weapon in their quest for survival. The Hemlock blends the psychic abilities of is Spiritseer pilot with the sinister gestalt energies of the Eldar dead, their co-pilots -- Spirit Stones -- whose psychically reactive wraithbone core functions like a miniature infinity circuit. Each Spiritseer pilot risks being driven slowly insane by the whispering voices within his Hemlock, or, after communing with his co-pilots one too many times, having his spirit forever join the ghosts within the craft and leaving behind nothing more than an empty husk.
Vyper Squadrons fly the sleek skimmer known as the Vyper Jetbike, fighting in the midst of the Eldar's fearsome Windrider hosts, offering a perfect compromise between the speed of a jetbike and the heavier armament of a grav-tank. A military innovation initially pioneered by the artisans of Saim-Hann, Vypers are two-seater attack craft capable of mounting a variety of heavy weapons. Their relatively small size means that they can travel through all but the thinnest arterials of the Webway, and their prodigious armament enables them to rival many tanks in terms of firepower. Their sheer speed provides more surety against incoming fire than any amound of armour plating -- it is rare for a Vyper squadron to move at anything less than breakneck pace while a battle rages.
Heavy Support Troops
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. 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. 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.
Vaul's Wrath Support Batteries
Whilst the artillery of most races can be considered crude and brutal, the Eldar employ support weapon platforms that are as silent as they are lethal. Known to the Eldar as Vaul's Wrath in honour of their smith-god's deadly skills, these large yet graceful war machines are crewed by two experienced Eldar Guardians. Each platform mounts a huge gun with which to slaughter the enemy -- but where the artillery of man or Ork employs blunt explosions and weight of fire, Eldar support weapons utilise a varity of dazzling technology to slay their foes. When Vaul's Wrath support weapons combine their firepower, they hammer the foe just as their namesake hammers the fates of mortal men upon his anvil. The following are the support weapons batteries often employed by the Eldar in battle:
- D-Cannon - An Eldar Distort Cannon, or D-Cannon, uses the Eldar's advanced knowledge of Warp technology to unleash a miniature sphere of Warp energy onto the battlefield, tearing apart its targets. The weapon emits a low droning noise which builds in pitch until it fires with a high-pitched shriek, spewing a beam of impenetrable blackness towards its target -- a momentary rift between Realspace and the Warp. The target is enmeshed in blackness and wrenched momentarily between warp space and reality. The massive internal distortion this causes tears the target apart, and usually destroys it. D-Cannons are often mounted upon anti-grav platforms or Eldar Titans.
- Vibro Cannon - A Vibro Cannon is a uniquely Eldar weapon which uses resonant sonic waves to shake its targets apart and fling troops to the ground. A vehicle hit by a Vibro-Cannon shakes violently and may fall apart, troops are thrown to the ground and quiver uncontrollably, and even the ground itself is ripped asunder by shock waves. The weapon can be directed against a specific point on the battlefield, but is forces are transmitted at ground level, and targets between the weapon and its aiming point can be affected. It is as if a huge plow were cutting a mighty furrow deep into the earth, casting aside rocks and soil, and scattering troops and tanks to either side. A particularly frightening aspect of the Vibro-Cannon is revealed when two weapons cross their line of fire over the same target. When this happens the results are often very spectacular as the ground is torn apart explosively. This particular weapon is often mounted upon an anti-grav platform.
- Shadow Weaver - The Shadow Weaver is a heavy monofilament weapon. It creates a dense monofilament mesh from an organo-polymer compound, which is kept in a liquid state within a magnetic reservoir. This mesh is released through thousands of microscopic firing ducts and woven into a web-like cloud by spinning gravity clamps. When fired, it unleashes a cloud of razor-sharp monofilament wire high into the air, which drifts down onto the enemy, slicing through the flesh and bones of the targets as they struggle to free themselves.
The Cobra is an Eldar super-heavy grav-tank that supports Eldar heavy armour assaults. This huge vehicle carries heavy firepower, and is broadly comparable to Imperial Guard super-heavy tanks. The Cobra is an Engine of Vaul, much like it's counterpart, the Scorpion, but re-armed with a large Distortion Cannon (D-Cannon). This weapon is known as a Warp Cannon or Vortex Cannon. There are two versions of the Cobra. Type I has a turret-mounted D-Cannon, while the Type II has a fixed forward firing D-Cannon. The Cobra is designed to find and destroy enemy war machines, as their protective force fields are little defence against the D-Cannon's heinous energies. As with all Eldar vehicles, crew numbers are kept to a minimum. The dwindling civilisation of the Eldar means they must rely upon sophisticated technology and the Wraithbone construction of their vehicles, freeing more warriors from crewman duties to fill the ranks of Guardian and Aspect Warriors squads.
Known as "Engines of Vaul", Eldar grav-tanks are immaculate beyond the ken of the lesser races -- aeronautical triumphs that combine ethereal grace with a deceptive lethality. Not for them the ground-churning rumble of Imperial tanks or the oil-drizzling incontinence of the vehicles cobbled together by Ork Mekboyz. Instead, the sleek battle craft of the Eldar guide through the smoke-filled skies, the nimble Falcon as silent as the deadly Fire Prism and the giant Cobra. The only signs of their passage are the blasted bodies left in their wake; regardless of type, they mount weaponry capable of breaking open a battleline.
The Falcon is the primary main battle tank of the Eldar. It an anti-gravitic tank that is named for the mythical figure who delivered one of the Swords of Vaul to the hero Eldanesh so he could continue fighting Khaine, the Eldar War God. The Falcon's graceful curved silhouette is a familiar but much dreaded sight to their enemies. The Falcon has a twin role upon the field of battle. It has a passenger compartment enabling it to carry a small squad of infantry to the battle front, or rescue a beleaguered unit when resistance proves too fierce. The Falcon is armed with a Pulse Laser and twin-linked Shuriken Catapults. An additional mount is provided on its turret, capable of accepting almost all heavy weaponry used by the Eldar. It is also fitted with an advanced targeting system to make the best of this armament. However, like most Eldar vehicles, the Falcon has light armor. Its impressive speed compensates for this, as it can cruise at speeds exceeding 800 km/h, and at high altitudes.
The Fire Prism is an Eldar anti-armour gravity tank based on the design of the Falcon. It replaces the Falcon's infantry-carrying capacity and turret weapons with a massive crystal array, known to Imperial forces as the Prism Cannon. It can fire a dispersed beam that damages targets over a wide area rather than concentrating its fire on a single target but this drastically reduces the weapon's damage. However, two or more Fire Prisms can pool their firepower by combining their Fire Prism beams to geometrically increase their Prism Cannons' firepower. This ability makes Fire Prisms extremely dangerous units when deployed in squadron strength against other armoured vehicles.
The Firestorm is a variant of Eldar Falcon grav-tank. Utilised as the Eldar's standard land-based anti-aircraft defence vehicle, the Firestorm mounts a complex triple-barrelled array of Scatter Lasers in a single-seater turret that fills the sky with streaking laser bolts above an Eldar grav-tank formation. Highly accurate and capable of sustained bursts, the Firestorm is also a potent anti-infantry weapon, particularly effective when used against hordes such as Ork warbands and Tyranid swarms. The Firestorm is also armed with a hull-mounted twin-linked Shuriken Catapults and/or a Shuriken Cannon, and can be further equipped with Vectored Engines, Star Engines, Holo-Fields and Spirit Stones. With a crew of two, the Firestorm retains its troop transport capacity and can assist Eldar attacks by delivering a squad of Aspect Warriors to the battlefield before withdrawing to its usual anti-aircraft role.
The Night Spinner is an Eldar anti-gravity combat vehicle. It is based on the Eldar Falcon grav tank chassis and is designed to provide indirect mobile fire support to fast-moving Eldar offensives. It is armed with a Shadow Weaver and Shuriken Catapults or a Shuriken Cannon. The Shadow Weaver creates a dense monofilament mesh from an organic polymer compound. The compound is kept in a liquid state within a magnetic reservoir and when released through the thousands of microscopic firing ducts, is woven into a web-like cloud by spinning gravity clamps. The clouds are forces high into the air before they drift down, making them ideal for disrupting an attack and causing the Eldar's enemies to seek shelter. A Night Spinner may also be outfitted with Vectored Engines, Star Engines, Holo-fields and Eldar Spirit Stones.
The Scorpion is an Eldar super-heavy grav-tank utilised exclusively by the Eldar, and is amongst the largest vehicles recorded capable of anti-gravitic movement in the galaxy. Known to the Eldar as one of the Engines of Vaul, it combines sophisticated and powerful weaponry with the grace and speed that have come to be associated with the Eldar's vehicles. Protected by a Holo-Field and armed with twin-linked Pulsars, the Scorpion has earned nicknames like the "Grave-maker" and "Deathsled" from the Imperium's tank crews. The Eldar regard the huge machines of the Imperium or Orks as crude and ungainly when compared with the grace of a Scorpion as it skims into battle.
War Walker Squadron
A War Walker is a one person, lightly armoured, bipedal combat walker used by the Eldar. They are manned by a standard Eldar Guardian. The War Walker plays an essential role for Eldar military forces very similar to that of an Imperial Guard Sentinel. Both are nimble, lightly armoured scouting units, though the War Walker is closer in size to the Wraithlord. War Walker pilots often become emotionally attached to their mounts, and a union of the pilot's mind with their machine ensues. This union is aided by the presence of an Eldar Spirit Stone, containing the spirit of a deceased Eldar that has been melded with the walker. The conjoined minds of the pilot and the individual personality within the Spirit Stone provides a much sharper focus and a deadlier concentration in combat that enhances the mission effectiveness of the walker.
The Eldar Wraithguard are not living warriors; they are artificial robotic constructs created from the complex psycho-plastic material, crafted by the Eldar of the Craftworlds, known as Wraithbone. Each Wraithguard has a Spirit Stone containing the soul of an elite Eldar warrior that was drawn out of the Infinity Circuit of a Craftworld. Wraithguard are smaller in size than Wraithlords, and carry a weapon known as a Wraithcannon which is a short-range, but potent weapon capable of opening a small rift into the Warp which sucks the target, or pieces of the target, within the Immaterium. When used against infantrymen, the result is invariably fatal. Due to their Wraithbone construction, Wraithguards can suffer damage that would cripple, or even kill, a living Eldar warrior and still continue to fight, making them useful in situations that would be suicide for living soldiers. They see through the Warp using what is known as "Wraithsight" but as the Warp is a tumultuous place, Wraithguards often have trouble discerning the true nature of realspace and so can find themselves blinded and unable to function effectively. Because of this tendency Wraithguard are often led into battle by Warlocks who help to guide them.
The most feared of all the Wraithguard are usually referred to as Wraithblades -- a few Eldar will speak their true name, Klaivaulch, for fear of inciting the wrath of Khaine. Tradition has it that each craftworld keeps these vengeful constructs apart from other ghost warriors so that the immortal anger that pervades their wraithbone shells does not taint those who might one day attain peace. When the call to war is heard, these beings are awakened by the most gifted Seers. Their spirit stones glow hot as the slow-burning anger of the dead flows through their cores. Once kindled, the wrath that animates their wraithbone bodies becomes an unstoppable fury that can only be quenched in the blood of their foe. Wielding twin ghostswords that leave glowing traces in the air, the Wraithblades cut down their foes with both merciless precision and the great might afforded by their long-limbed forearms.
A Wraithlord is a lithe but mighty noble robotic combat walker that contains no living warrior; rather, it is merely a robotic shell, a repository of the animating soul of a dead Eldar hero. Wraithlords are graceful but mighty giants that dwarf their Wraithguard cousins. These large constructs are extremely precious to their Eldar Craftworlds and have a supernatural toughness due to being made from the psychically-active substance called wraithbone. Summoned into being by the necromantic processes of the Eldar Spiritseers, only a true hero of the Eldar race has psychic power enough to animate the gigantic wraithbone shell of a Wraithlord.
Looming ghost warriors many times larger than even the might Wraithlords, the war machines known as Wraithknights are still dextrous enough to run through the ruin of a shattered city, leaping from pillar to spar as their arcane weapons bring oblivion to the enemies of the Eldar. Each carries either a pair of heavy Wraithcannons, their lengthy forms capable of sending their targets straight into the hell-dimension of the Warp; a suncannon, powerful enough to obliterate a platoon of human soldiers in a single blast of roiling plasma; or a great ghostglaive and scattershield with which to engage even the Daemon Lords of Chaos in single combat. Their contoured shells house the spirits of the wakeful dead in much the same way as lesser ghost warriors, though their armoured chests each hold a living Eldar pilot within. These pilots are not normal steersmen such as those at the helm of grav-tanks and Eldar aircraft, but rare and unusual warriors who were each born a twin.
The Wave Serpent is an armored personnel carrier based on the same design as the Falcon. It is the standard transport vehicle of the Craftworld Eldar. Armed with twin-linked shuriken catapults and a set of twin-linked heavy weapons, the Wave Serpent is capable of carrying up to twelve Eldar passengers in the expanded passenger compartment. In addition, the prow of the Wave Serpent is protected by an advanced energy shield, reducing the effectiveness of enemy weapons and ordnance.
The Eldar Nations
Following the Fall, the Eldar were socially and culturally divided into several broad groups. While there are divisions within each of these, they are the most obvious and clearly defined groups of the existing race (the Dark Eldar are obviously excluded here and are considered a separate species all together by most Eldar):
In the time leading up to the Great Fall, not all the Eldar that remained on their empire's homeworlds fell to the lure of perversity and hedonism that birthed Slaanesh. Many remained behind, struggling to turn their species from its doomed path. Unable to do so, many of the greatest Seers caught glimpses of the darkness to come, and undertook a titanic effort to save their people. For each Eldar homeworld of the empire a gigantic starship was created, sung from Wraithbone and so massive as to be nearly a planetoid in itself. The last uncorrupted individuals from each world were loaded onto these ships, along with works of art, plant life and animals, all that could be saved. In these Craftworlds (as they came be known) the final Eldar Exodus began, and only barely in time. The psychic shockwave of Slaanesh's birth in the 30th Millennium caught some of the Craftworlds and destroyed them, while others were pulled into orbit against their will around the Eye of Terror, to be forever assaulted by the Forces of Chaos until they are destroyed or corrupted. The rest drift through the galaxy, their exact number uncertain, as contact can be difficult and intermittent. There are several Craftworlds of particular fame known to the Imperium.
The Craftworlds' populations probably compose the majority of the surviving Eldar race, although it is impossible to say just how many individuals this is. The Craftworlds are certainly the seat of the remaining Eldar industry, technology, and culture, as they contain the only vestiges of their original homeworlds' civilisation. Most of the Craftworlds contain special biodomes that house plants and wildlife from the original homeworld of the Craftworld's people, and these are carefully tended. Although each Craftworld is essentially independent in its actions and governance, they will generally offer and accept aid and advice from one another. Although not common, sometimes Craftworld disagreements will cause two to clash on the field of battle, though this is always a last resort.
Every Craftworld contains an Infinity Circuit, which is essentially the Wraithbone skeleton of the Craftworld itself. Within this crystalline matrix of solidified psychic power, the souls of all the Craftworld's dead reside in a form of group consciousness, providing both a well of potent psychic power that can be harnessed by the ship during times of distress and a massive ancestral mind to advise and guide the living. With the rise of Slaanesh, the Infinity Circuit is the closest thing that the Eldar have to an afterlife; if their souls are not caught and integrated into it, they will be lost into the Warp and devoured by the Great Enemy, whose resonant Chaotic energies draw Eldar souls into itself, much as moths are drawn to a flame. For this reason the Eldar will defend their Craftworlds with a fury and tenacity almost unrivalled by other races; they risk losing not only their home but their very souls as well.
- Alaitoc - Far out on the frontiers of the galaxy, on the edge of explored space, lies the Alaitoc Craftworld. The Alaitoc Eldar are zealous in their vigilance against the touch of Slaanesh, even more so than other Eldar. Alaitoc is an unusually strict Craftworld in making sure its citizens follow the Eldar Paths and Eldar traditions; in response, many of the more freedom-loving individuals from this Craftworld choose instead the Eldar Path of the Outcast, becoming Rangers or even Eldar Pirates who roam the galaxy and make their living raiding primarily Imperial commerce. While all Craftworlds make use of the Rangers, who are the most highly accurate snipers amongst the Eldar, none field or produce more than Alaitoc. Though Alaitoc Rangers do not reside upon the Craftworld and prefer to travel the galaxy, these Rangers retain their loyalty to Alaitoc and will return to their Craftworld on occasion to visit family and friends. Aside from deploying large numbers of standard Rangers, Alaitoc is also the only Craftworld to field the highly skilled Rangers known as Pathfinders. These snipers without compare can cause havoc amongst even the most powerful and numerous of enemy forces. In times of extreme need, such as during the Imperium of Man's recent invasion of Alaitoc, the Craftworld sometimes recalls its Rangers to contribute to Alaitoc's defence forces. Whereas their kin have forgotten their people's duty to watch for the return of their ancient enemies the Necrons, the Eldar of Alaitoc have not. When the Necrons first began to awaken Alaitoc was quick to respond, sabotaging the systems of awakening Tomb Worlds, and lending aid to Exodites threatened by their reemerging enemies. Alaitoc uses a sword rune which represents the Sword of Vaul, the weapon forged in Eldar myth for the Smith God's desperate battle against the War God Khaela Mensha Khaine. It represents the defiance and determination of its people. Alaitoc and its forces are associated with the colours blue and yellow. The Craftworld is known to be located in the Ultima Segmentum that was the heart of the ancient Eldar empire.
- Black Library - The Black Library of Chaos, better known simply as the Black Library, is the secret Eldar Craftworld that serves as the Eldar's repository of forbidden lore concerning the Ruinous Powers that exists somewhere within the labyrinthine passages of the Webway. The Eldar Craftworlds became the only surviving sources of their ancient knowledge of sorcery and the Ruinous Powers of Chaos after the Fall of that race to the birth of Slaanesh. As the Craftwords have drifted apart, this knowledge has consequently become fragmented, and as some Craftworlds have become lost over the millennia, more precious Eldar knowledge has been lost with them. The Black Library is governed by a body of the wisest Eldar Farseers drawn from all of the Craftworlds known as the Black Council. The Black Council is the closet the fractious Eldar race has come to an advisory body that looks after the interests of the entire race. The Eldar know more of Chaos than Mankind ever will, and still more was lost during the Fall. A single source of Eldar knowledge has remained untouched and inviolate since the Fall. In a hidden location, some say at the very centre of the Webway -- the Eldar's network of stable warp tunnels that crosses the galaxy -- rests the tomes, books, scrolls, and codices describing the Eldar’s complete and extensive knowledge of the Warp. The forbidden lore of the Black Library describes the blandishments, influences, forms, creatures, perils, promises, and horrors of Chaos. The existence of the Black Library is known to only a few and entry is allowed to even fewer individuals. The library defends itself against the weak and those who would misuse its knowledge by refusing entry to all except those who have acknowledged and tempered the Chaos within themselves. The immature, who are still vulnerable to the promises and seductions of Chaos, find that they are unable to pass through its gateway. As a result, only the Solitaires of the Eldar Harlequin troupes are allowed to come and go freely, although some say that a human, perhaps an Inquisitor, has also been allowed to do so.
- Biel-Tan - The most martial of the Craftworlds, constantly strive to return the ancient Eldar empire to its former glory. For the Eldar of Biel-Tan the Way of the Warrior, the life-stage that encompasses the Aspect Warriors, is considered the first step upon the Path of the Eldar. Upon reaching physical maturity a Biel-Tan Eldar becomes an Aspect Warrior, and only once he has fulfilled this role can he continue along the Path of the Eldar. The Eldar of Biel-Tan have a strong honour code and believe that the best way to die is in battle fighting the enemies of Biel-Tan. Consumed with bitterness, they wage an endless campaign of xenocide against those foolish enough to cross their path. Its armies contain the highest percentages of elite troops of all the Craftworlds, and few of the staple citizen-militia called Guardians that most Craftworlds call upon in times of war. Their highly-trained forces are known as the Swordwind, and they often come to the aid of Exodite worlds beset by Orks, Dark Eldar or other xenos dangers. As the Eldar of Biel-Tan see it, when the time comes for the Eldar to reclaim what is rightfully theirs, the paradise Maiden Worlds and the planets of the Exodites will be the first staging points for their conquest. The symbol of Biel-Tan is the Eldar rune of rebirth and its name actually means the "Rebirth of Ancient Days".
- Iyanden - The Iyanden Craftworld was once one of the largest and most prosperous of all the remaining Eldar Craftworlds. They barely survived an attack by the Tyranid Hive Fleet Kraken, which nearly destroyed the Craftworld and killed four-fifths of its population. On the verge of total annihilation, Iyanden was saved from complete destruction by the exiled Prince Yriel, who had formerly been the High Admiral of the Iyanden fleet. Yriel and his exile Eldar pirate raiders, even though previously vowing never to return to Iyanden, could not bear to have their Craftworld destroyed and launched an attack on the Tyranid fleet. The subsequent battles destroyed much of the craftworlds infrastructure. Today many of its sections are still in ruins and the population is spread thinly across its ruined sections. This forces Iyanden to often call upon the spirits of its fallen in its Infinity Circuit, raising more than the typical numbers of Wraithguard and Wraithlords to aid their dwindling warriors in battle. Asuryan is the oldest and greatest of the ancient Eldar deities. He is the father of the gods, the ancestor of all living things. The world-rune of the Iyanden craftworld means "Light in the Darkness," a reference to the ever-burning shrine that honours Asuryan and the flame of hope for the Eldar of Iyanden
- Saim-Hann - The Eldar Craftworld of Saim-Hann was one of the first Craftworlds to abandon the Crone Worlds as the Fall of the Eldar approached, heeding their Farseers' warnings. As such they have spent far more time isolated from the rest of the Eldar than the other major Craftworlds, although the Saim-Hann do maintain contact with and have a very similar culture to the Exodite worlds. They are fierce warriors, who place upon honour a higher value than their sophisticated kin. This, coupled with their pride, has sadly led them into conflict with each other and different Craftworlds. While this generally takes the form of an organised duel between representatives of each Craftworld in which first blood is usually sufficient to end the matter, the high number of deaths from these conflicts has lent to the barbaric reputation of the Craftworld among other Eldar. In Eldar myth, the Serpent is the only creature believed to exist in both the material and the psychic universes at the same time. Hence, the Serpent is said to know all secrets past and present. Saim-Hann means "Quest for Enlightenment," for the Eldar word for snake and secret knowledge is identical: "Saim." The Eldar of Saim-Hann bear the world-rune that represents the Serpent as their heraldry, sporting it on the cowlings of their jetbikes, grav-tanks and aircraft.
- Ulthwé - One of the largest Craftworlds, Ulthwé was caught in the pull of the Eye of Terror after it erupted into being, and now orbits it. As such it faces a constant danger of attack by Chaotic marauders and has served as a bastion against the Dark Powers for thousands of Terran years. The constant war and risk of attack has hardened the Craftworld's citizens, and it maintains a standing militia force known as the Black Guardians, who are highly skilled and better-trained than the Guardians of other Craftworlds. Its proximity to the Eye has also given it an unusually large number of potent psychics, even for the Eldar. One of the more famous and integral aspects of the Ulthwé Craftworld is that of its Seer Council. Formerly led by the now deceased Eldrad Ulthran, the council both overtly and secretly interferes with other races in an attempt to steer fate in their favour. This has no doubt allowed the Ulthwé to survive so long in such a perilous position. This Craftworld's world-rune, "The Eye of Isha," symbolises the sorrow of Isha, the fertility goddess from whom the Eldar believe they descend. Isha, it is said, wept bitterly when Asuryan, the king of the gods, ordered her separation from her mortal children. Vaul forged her tears into glittering Spirit Stones so that her grief might not be in vain. Today, the warriors of Ulthwé bear this symbol as their sigil, a poignant reminder of the godhood they lost long ago.
- Altansar - Altansar is a small Craftworld that had been on the edge of the shockwave that created the Eye of Terror at the time of the Fall. It rode out the psychic shock waves that destroyed the Eldar empire but was subsequently caught in the gravity well of the newborn Eye of Terror. Although the Eldar of Altansar struggled valiantly against the encroachment of Chaos, their doom was inevitable, and within five hundred years of the Fall, their Craftworld was swallowed into the Warp. Amongst the entirety of Altansar's population, only the Phoenix Lord Maugan Ra escaped the Craftworld's consumption by Chaos. Altansar was long thought to have been lost in the birth of the Eye with the other homeworlds of the Eldar. However, there were reports of its sighting and even active involvement in the recently conducted campaign against the Eye of Terror, and doubt now exists as to its fate, though other Eldar will view any citizens of Altansar with suspicion, as no Eldar Craftworld has ever been known to exist within the Eye of Terror for so long without being corrupted by Chaos. The world-rune used by Craftworld Altansar is known as the "Broken Chain" -- not only in reference to the escape of Kurnous and Isha from the dungeons of Khaine, but also to the shattering of the links that bound Vaul to his anvil. The broken infinity loop above the world-rune has only been adopted by the craftworld since its narrow escape from an eternity of damnation within the Eye of Terror.
- Il-Kaithe - Il-Kaithe is one of the lesser-known Eldar Craftworlds. Being located close to the Eye of Terror, the Eldar of Il-Kaithe constantly wage war against the Forces of Chaos. Il-Kaithe, meaning "Knowledge of Blood", was once best known for its Bonesingers' creativity. Their talented Bonesingers are said to be able to practice their art even in the heat of battle. Since the dawn of the 41st Millennium, it has become renowned for its merciless crusades against the forces of the Dark Gods. The craftworld opposes the Great Enemy at every turn, no matter the cost -- it will readily ally with Commorragh and even with Mankind to thwart the machinations of Chaos. The Eldar of Il-Kaithe use the world-rune depicting the helm to remind themselves that knowledge can have a terrible cost. The world-rune of Il-Kaithe, known as the "Helm of Eldanesh", represents the all-seeing helm the Eldar hero Eldanesh received from Asuryan himself. The Lay of the House of Eldanesh describes how the Eldar hero defeated the gods and monsters alike with the prescience that it gave him, but in the end he fell prey to his own curiosity and foresaw his own bloody demise at the hands of Khaine. The Eldar of Il-Kaithe use the world-rune depicting the helm to remind themselves that knowledge can have a terrible cost.
- Iybraesil - Iybraesil is a largely matriarchal Craftworld society, fostering many Howling Banshees shrines and female Autarchs. As followers of the blind Eldar Crone Goddess of the Underworld, Morai-Heg, the Iybraesil Eldar constantly aspire to recover the hidden secrets of the Crone Worlds, the original homeworlds of the lost Eldar empire which now reside within the Eye of Terror. Dutiful and fierce, the gifted Seers of the craftworld labour long in their hunt for the hidden secrets of the Crone Worlds. They hope to secure not only the Tears of Isha, but also ancient technologies and doomsday artefacts that will allow them to tip the balance in the war for survival. The world-rune of Iybraesil, known as "Wisdom of Pain" and also the "Hand of Heg", is a reference to the Eldar myth wherein Morai-Heg, the Crone, persuaded Khaine to sever her hand so that she could drink of the wisdom of her own blood. The Eldar of that Craftworld make frequent references to this act, claiming that no knowledge is truly claimed without sacrifice
- Kaelor - Kaelor is a relatively obscure and extremely isolated Eldar Craftworld. The Craftworld of Kaelor remembers virtually nothing of its early history and its earliest known records begin with the Craftwars between Kaelor and the Saim-Hann Craftworld, and even information concerning that event is very scarce. Virtually nothing of its early history is known except that in the distant past this Craftworld made a Webway jump towards the fringes of the galaxy and has not ventured towards the galactic centre for several millennia since then. It is known that Craftworld Kaelor's migration route brings it through the Calixis Sector once every thousand Terran years. On such occasions, Imperial authorities have strict —- and highly confidential —- instructions from the Inquisition's Ordo Xenos to give it a wide birth. Kaelor is effectively cut off and has virtually no contact with the rest of the galaxy. Even the Harlequins barely remember its existence.
- Lugganath - Perceived as little better than corsairs by other craftworlds, the Eldar of the minor Craftworld of Lugganath are a society of renegades who seek to foster close ties with the Harlequins of the Laughing God as the Lugganath Eldar hope to abandon this galaxy and start civilisation afresh and claim the Webway as their realm, reclaiming the Labyrinthine Dimension from the Dark Eldar. Reports of corsair fleets operating out of Lugganath are common, notably the Sunblitz Brotherhood, whose vessels often fight alongside those of Lugganath's navy in times of war. Lugganath is known to be active within the Western Quadrant of the Segmentum Obscurus. Lugganath's name translates as "Light of Fallen Suns". Their world-rune, the "Black Sun", is a reference to the lost glory of the original Eldar star systems. It is said that if a viewer were to look far enough into the void he would be able to perceive the last light of those dead stars -- as close to a metaphor for hope as the Eldar of Lugganath ever use.
- Mymeara - Mymeara was an ancient Eldar colony world that had escaped the Fall after the birth of Slaanesh because it was located on the extreme outer frontier of the Eldar empire and the corrupting influence of the Pleasure Cults had never gained a foothold. However, as the Fall consumed their race, the Mymearans finally descended into hedonistic depravity and madness. The wisest of the Mymearan elders had foreseen this fate and spent the last decades of their world's existence constructing a mighty Craftworld that was also named Mymeara. Lost in their grief for the death of their race and believing themselves alone in the galaxy, Craftworld Mymeara drifted across the galaxy for many Terran years. Craftworld Mymeara remained hidden for millennia, its continued existence unknown to the rest of the Eldar and the other intelligent races of the galaxy alike. Yet, in the late 41st Millennium, Mymeara's Farseers managed to locate the Phoenix Lord Irillyth's final resting place upon the Imperial Ice World of Betalis III. The world-rune of Mymeara, known as the "Cursing Eye", is a reference to the omniscient abilities of Asuryan, said to be able to perceive and to kill in the same instant. Asuryan's pitiless extermination of the brutal Yygghs epitomises the cull of a lesser race in its comparative infancy, eradicating it before it could grow to endanger the noble Eldar race in any way.
- Yme-Loc - The Eldar of the lesser Yme-Loc Craftworld are talented artisans, boasting many weaponsmiths who supply its warhosts with Engines of Vaul and lithe titans that dwarf the Gargants of the Orks and the God-machines of the Imperium. Though it is not openly spoken of, the craftworld also possesses an arcane engine of destruction that can destroy a continent in a single night. Their armies are supported by powerful grav-tanks and Eldar Titans. Its last known location placed it in proximity to the Eye of Terror between 989.M39 and 341.M40. The world-rune of Yme-Loc is known as the "Crucible of Souls". Eldar legends tells of the Crucible of Souls, within which the smith-god forged weapons of purest wraithsteel were alloyed with the spirits of the virtuous in order to wage the War in Heaven. It was in this crucible that the ninety-nine-and-one Swords of Vaul were created. Yme-Loc uses the symbol of the Crucible of Souls as its world-rune, claiming that the Eldar's fate is theirs to forge.
Other Minor Craftworlds
- An-Iolsus - The Craftworld of An-Iolsus forged a rare alliance with the Imperium of Man during the Gothic War of the early 41st Millennium to defeat the Forces of Chaos
- Cairas Mythar
- Ctho - Ctho is the "the legendary lost Craftworld"
- Dolthe- Warriors of the Dire Avengers from the Dolthe Craftworld fought to defend and close a Webway portal on the contested world of Monthax. They were later joined by the Volpone 50th and the Tanith 1st Regiments of the Imperial Guard.
- Dorhai - Dorhai does not deal with other Craftworlds, believing themselves to be the only untainted survivors of the Fall of the Eldar
- Il'sariadh - In 116.M38, when this Craftworld was visited by a large troupe of Eldar Harlequins, during their performance, the Solitaire was none other than the trickster Tzeentch daemon known as the Changeling. Killing the player who portrayed the Great Harlequin, he summons the Slaaneshi daemon The Masque of Slaanesh, who in turn, opens a portal that allows her daemon brethren to pour through. Il'sariadh effectively has its heart torn out with the loss of their brightest and best.
- Meros - Meros is remembered as "the doomed Craftworld".
- Miel Carn
- Telennar - Telennar is a minor Eldar Craftworld. Cordial relations between Alaitoc and Telennar have often brought the two Craftworlds together to battle against the Forces of Chaos, most recently during the Fall of Medusa V in 999.M41. Telennar is also known for going to war alongside the Harlequins of the Masque of the Twisted Path. It's well documented that the Twisted Path have an affinity with the Eldar of Telennar, for while the masque has been known to spirit victims, whether they be friend or foe, away into the Webway (never to be seen again), this never happens on Telennar -- some say it is because the souls on that Craftworld are too dark. Telennar's colours are bright orange and sable. The meaning of their world-rune is unknown.
- Zandros - Home to the Slicing Orbs, an Eldar Aspect Warrior shrine unique to this Craftworld.
Since the Fall of the Eldar some Craftworlds have been destroyed. These include:
- Idharae - Idharae was destroyed in an all-out siege launched by the Invaders Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes and the Legion of the Damned; its surviving population fled to Alaitoc, which earned revenge against the Invaders by destroying their homeworld of Ogrys in 895.M41, forcing them to become a Fleet-based Chapter.
- Lu'Nasad - Lu'Nasad was destroyed after fleeing from their civilisation's destruction during the Fall of the Eldar. The scholars, Farseers and Warlocks of Lu'Nasad had spent centuries studying and discovering lost paths within the Webway which led through the Empyrean that no living being had walked since time out of mind. As fate would have it, the dark, twisting, and largely unknown paths taken by Lu'Nasad took her not to salvation, but directly into the seething heart of the Rifts of Hecaton, located in the Koronus Expanse. There in the midst of these damned and forgotten stars, Lu'Nasad came face to face with powerful forces of the Empyrean that were manifesting in realspace. A desperate and largely futile battle ensued as Lu'Nasad's defenders were overwhelmed by the Forces of Chaos, and in short order the Craftworld fell silent and drifted further into the Rifts, her only survivors the powerful Farseer Anaris and the crew of his ship. Bathed in the energies of the Warp and infused with the taint of Chaos, Lu'Nasad became a twisted, ugly parody of herself.
- Malan'tai - Malan'tai was a minor Craftworld of the Eldar. It was destroyed in 812.M41 by a splinter of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Naga and was the location of the first known encounter of the potent Tyranid Zoanthrope later called the Doom of Malan'tai by the Eldar. The derelict Craftworld became nothing more than a drifting, lifeless husk floating through the void. In 994.M41, Craftworld Iyanden came to Malan'tai to see if they could find anything of use to help with repairs of their home after their recent battle with Hive Fleet Kraken, but instead, they found the abandoned Craftworld swarming with vile Orks. When the Eldar finally regained control of Malan'tai, they discovered that the Orks have stolen or destroyed anything of use. With heavy hearts, they altered the Craftworld's course towards the nearest sun and headed home.
- Mor'rioh'i - Destroyed by the military forces of the burgeoning Imperium of Man during the Great Crusade.
- Muirgaythh - Destroyed by the daemonic forces of Slaanesh.
- Thuyela - Thuyela was destroyed by the Tenth Company of the Space Wolves Legion during the Great Crusade.
During The Fall, the degeneration of the Eldar did not proceed wholly without resistance. Some Eldar, the more far-sighted, began to openly criticize the laxity and perversity of their fellow citizens, and to warn against the effect of Chaos cults. These people were mostly ignored or else treated as narrow-minded fools and religious fanatics. Soon the general collapse of Eldar society convinced even the most resolute amongst them that there would be no end to the reign of death and depravity. Some decided to leave the Eldar homeworlds, and settle new planets free of the creeping corruption. They were the ones still untainted by the touch of Chaos, and by now they were few. These Eldar are known as the Exodites.
The Exodite worlds are generally considered backward and rustic compared to the rest of the space-roaming Eldar (and thus are commonly thought to be the equivalent of the Wood Elves instead of High Elves), although they still possess a good deal of the Eldar's advanced technology. One of the pieces of technology they have maintained is the Infinity Circuit, although on the Exodite worlds these are known as World Spirits and exist in the form of grids of stone menhirs, obelisks, and stone circles all crafted from psychoactive crystal. Despite the presence of some technology, these worlds are often agricultural, however, and it is not uncommon for groups of Exodites to exist in a primitive, nomadic state, living off roaming herds of pastoral animals and seasonal harvests. This is the most common image of the Exodite life among Craftworld Eldar. Many Craftworld Outcasts will find a refuge among these Eldar, who are generally more accepting.
Many Craftworld Eldar regard the Exodites a sort of rural, backwater group that is quaint at best. To others, the Exodites represent the foundation of a new Eldar empire on the edge of the galaxy, composed of the descendants of those far-sighted and strong-willed enough to escape the touch of Slaanesh. The Biel-tan Craftworld is one of the chief proponents of the Exodite potential, and will often mobilize its forces in defense of one of the scattered worlds.
Known Exodite militaries consist solely of the Exodite Dragon Knights. These Eldar ride various types of reptilian mounts into battle and are known as Exodite Knights and Lords. The Dragon Knights use a laser lance and wear carapace-style armor.
The Eldar Gods
The Pantheon of Eldar Gods is considered to have been destroyed by the creation of Slaanesh. While the Eldar still revere all the gods of the pantheon and preserve their stories within the mythic cycles, they do not call on them for aid or hope for their intervention any longer. There are many similarities between the mythology surrounding the Eldar pantheon and aspects of the ancient mythologies of the Greek and Norse cultures of Old Earth. It is assumed that the Warhammer 40,000 creators drew heavily on these existing sources of real world mythology when creating the Eldar race and the defining mythic stories of their culture.
Kaela Mensha Khaine, God of War
Kaela Mensha Khaine is one of the only two surviving Gods of the Eldar. In the old pantheon, he was second only to Asuryan himself in power, and was often shown as the enemy of Vaul. He is also the most violent and reckless of the gods. Asuryan was so appalled by his murder of Eldanesh, a mortal Eldar, that he cursed Khaine and made his hands drip eternally with the blood of Eldanesh so that everyone would remember what he had done. The Eldar say that when Slaanesh awoke, he/she (Slaanesh can appear as either gender at will) consumed each of the other Eldar gods in the Warp in turn. While his counterparts were all devoured, Khaine took up his great sword and did battle with Slaanesh instead. Khaine was not strong enough to destroy Slaanesh, but he was too powerful to be defeated. Instead his psychic signature in the Warp was broken, and scattered into pieces. These pieces were driven from the Warp where they had done battle and came to rest in the heart of the Infinity Circuit of each Craftworld. These pieces of the god became the Avatars of Kaela Mensha Khaine. In times of war the Eldar can awaken him to lead them into battle, though the price is the sacrifice of an Exarch's life, for the Avatar needs to possess a physical body to enter the material universe. The Avatars of Khaine are towering monsters with skin of iron and molten cores, hands permanently dripping with blood as Khaine's did.
Cegorach (The Laughing God), God of the Harlequins
The only other surviving god of the Eldar Pantheon, Cegorach, also known as the Laughing God, the Great Harlequin, the Great Fool and the First Fool, was a consummate trickster and artist of the Eldar Gods. While most of the Eldar Gods were destroyed by Slaanesh during the Fall of the Eldar, according to legend this deity survived because his mocking nature distanced him from the collective psychic corruption and decadence of the ancient Eldar empire that birthed the Chaos God Slaanesh. Other legends tell that when all the other Gods were destroyed, Cegorach fled before Slaanesh until Khaine rose to do battle with her. It is said that during the fight between Slaanesh and Khaine the Laughing God hid behind Khaine for protection, and in the aftermath of the struggle Cegorach fled into the Webway where Slaanesh could not find him. He still resides there, and is the only being in the universe who knows exactly where every door in the Webway leads. As the master and patron god of the mysterious Harlequins, Cegorach is the only Eldar God that still remains in his original form. The Harlequins are protected from Slaanesh in a different way from their Craftworld brethren. While Craftworld Eldar wear Spirit Stones which absorb their souls when they die to prevent them from being devoured by Slaanesh in the Warp, the Eldar Harlequins are directly protected by their faith in their God's power, becoming one with his Warp emanation upon their death. The only exception to this are the Harlequin Solitaires whose souls must be won from Slaanesh after their deaths by the Laughing God.
Asuryan, King of the Eldar Gods
Sometimes known as the Phoenix King, Asuryan was the king of the pantheon of Eldar Gods. While the mythic cycles seem to indicate that he held sway over all the others, he was nevertheless consumed by Slaanesh in the Warp. He is often depicted in relation to fire and light, his chief symbols.
Isha, Goddess of the Harvest
The Great Mother of the Eldar race, Isha is a fertility goddess in many respects. She was imprisoned by Khaine for a period of time, until Vaul paid her ransom. She is often depicted crying, and her symbol is a teared eye, symbolic of her sorrow in being separated from her mortal children. Her tears are said to have solidified to form the Spirit Stones which keep the Eldar safe from Slaanesh after their death. It is rumoured that the Chaos God Nurgle coveted the Eldar fertility goddess, and rescued her from consumption by Slaanesh only to imprison her in his decaying mansion that lies within his foul realm in the Warp. Nurgle "cares" for Isha by feeding her the various diseases he concocts, only for her to whisper the cures for each one to mortals when his back is turned.
Vaul, God of the Forges
The artificer of the Eldar Gods, Vaul is one of the central gods of the Eldar Pantheon, and an enemy to Khaine. In order to purchase the freedom of Kurnous and Isha, Khaine demanded one hundred blades from the Smith God. Vaul was unable to finish the last blade in time, and so hid a mortal blade amid the others of immortal craftsmanship. This fooled Khaine long enough to get Isha and Kurnous to freedom, but when he realised he had been tricked, he cried out for vengeance. Vaul finished the final blade, Anaris the Dawnlight, and took it to do battle with Khaine. Though it was the greatest of swords, Khaine was the better warrior and crippled Vaul. The smith is often shown chained to his anvil, the punishment that Khaine set upon him.
Y'nnead, God of the Dead
Y'nnead is a dream, the embodiment of a possibility that has yet to be realized. Some Eldar Seers believe that when the last Eldar dies during the Rhana Dandra (the Final Battle with Chaos) Y'nnead will be born from the Warp with the strength of all the Eldar souls stored in the Infinity Circuits of the Craftworlds and the World Spirits of the Exodites. Y'nnead will then have the power to destroy Slaanesh forever in a final battle, thus correcting the mistakes which led the Fall of the Eldar and allowing the race to be reincarnated into a universe free of the taint of Chaos.
Other Eldar Gods
- Kurnous, God of the Hunt - Kurnous was the Father of the Eldar race and the companion and consort of Isha. He is often shown in conjunction with hounds, hawks, and other trappings of the hunt. Along with Isha, the goddess of the harvest, he too was imprisoned by Khaine.
- Gea - Gea was a female Eldar God that existed within the pantheon of the Eldar race. She is notable for being the consort of the twin deities Khaine the Bloody Handed God and Asuryan the Phoenix King.
- Hoec - Revered amongst the near-invisible assassins known as Eldar Pathfinders, the mysterious wandering Eldar divinity known as Hoec is said to be one with the Webway, and has walked the paths between planets since the stars themselves were young.
- Lileath (also known as Lilcarth), the Maiden - Lileath was the Goddess of Dreams.
- Morai-Heg, the Crone, Goddess of Fate and Souls - The Crone-Goddess Morai-Heg is the consort of Khaine and the third in a trinity of female Eldar Goddesses who appears as an ancient and withered creature who holds the fate of mortals inside a skin rune pouch. In Eldar myth she sought to partake of the wisdom contained in her divine blood. She manipulated Khaela Mensha Khaine to cut off her hand so that she might drink deep of her own vitae. With this deed Morai-Heg gained the knowledge that she sought, and in return, Khaine gained the aspect of the banshee. The original homeworlds of the Eldar that were lost to the Eye of Terror after the Fall became known as Crone Worlds, a reference to the Crone Goddess. The inhabitants of Craftworld Iybraesil are noted for being followers of Morai-Heg.
- Cobra-God - The Cobra-God is an animistic creature of destruction whom does not care whom is caught in his wake; he is venerated by the Exodites.
- Scorpion-God - The Scorpion-God is an animistic creature of defence, brother of Cobra; he is venerated by the Exodites.
- Serpent-God - The Serpent-God is an animistic creature of secrets who knows all there is to know in the universe; he is venerated by the Exodites.
Relations With Other Races
As with most of the primary factions in the 41st Millennium, the Eldar have no particular love for any of the other major intelligent races in the universe. Though they abhor the Forces of Chaos more than any other since they have lost more than most civilisations to the predations of the Ruinous Powers, they do not particularly desire to share their knowledge or co-exist with their fellow space-faring species. They have been known to trade and have relations with the other Elder Races.
Relations between Mankind and the Eldar were not always sour, but perhaps the current state of warfare between the Eldar and the species they derogatorily refer to as the mon-keigh (literally "mammals" in the Eldar Lexicon, though with a derogatory meaning closer to "monkeys" in Low Gothic) could be blamed on the events preceding the Horus Heresy -- most notably, the meeting between Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor's Children Legion of Space Marines and the Eldar Farseer Eldrad Ulthran upon the Eldar Maiden World of Tarsus during the Great Crusade. Both leaders had come in peace to discuss the Imperial Compliance of the planet and Fulgrim's willingness to ignore Imperial doctrine on the matter and leave the Eldar's Maiden Worlds unconquered by the Imperium, but the main issue that Eldrad was attempting to pursue was that the Imperial Warmaster Horus had turned to Chaos, and sought to betray the Emperor of Mankind. However, Eldrad was unaware that Fulgrim had already been tainted by contact with the Slaaneshi daemonblade that he had recovered from the world of Laeran, and the supposedly peaceful meeting soon turned into a bloody battle when Ulthran sensed that the Emperor's Children had already been corrupted by She Who Thirsts. Being that Fulgrim was unaware of the existence of a Chaotic taint on himself and his Astartes, or even what Chaos was at the time of their meeting with the aliens, the Ulthwe Eldar's actions were seen as a betrayal and great insult to the offer of friendship and peace that Fulgrim had offered them with the Imperium of Man. Hence, Mankind and the Eldar have been at nearly open war since the days of the Horus Heresy.
Though they have had no love for the Imperium of Man, which they view as a brutish, repressive and extraordinarily arrogant government (though in truth no more arrogant than the Eldar themselves were before the Fall) the Eldar typically leave human settlements alone and have fought side-by-side with the Imperial Space Marines and troops of the Imperial Guard on multiple occasions, though they have been known to attack unprovoked for reasons of their own and have used other races as shields against certain threats such as the Orks. In campaigns like the Gothic War and the 13th Black Crusade, both races have been seen working together against their common foe of Chaos. In truth, though neither species will ever truly understand the other, and there are a great many differences between them, they both need the other to survive the terrible threats that face both races and they are both far more alike in their mutual arrogance and disdain for other species than either would be comfortable admitting.
As the most primitive intelligent starfaring race in the galaxy, the Eldar look down upon the Orks and all of their actions. Essentially a green wrecking ball hurling through space, the Orks destroy and loot every world in their path. This has put them at odds with the Eldar many times. However, due to their limited intelligence, the Orks have often made excellent pawns in Eldar schemes designed to save Eldar lives from another, even more potent threat from the Imperium or the Tyranids.
As the first race most predominantly affected by Chaos, the Eldar have devoted all of their resources to battling the forces of Chaos whenever possible. This has made them temporary allies of the Imperium on occasion though such partnerships rarely last beyond the span of a few battles.
The Tyranids are a seemingly unstoppable force in the universe, the origins of which are still unknown. The Eldar have dedicated much of their time and sacrificed many in the fight to stem the spread of the Tyranid Hive Fleets. Though only three major Tyranid incursions have actually occurred, the universe is forever under threat from further Hive Fleet invasions. Billions on all sides were sacrificed in the fight to stem the Tyranid flow, but the Eldar are not above sacrificing entire human worlds in favor of diverting the swarm away from their own Craftworlds.
Perhaps the most notable conflict between the Eldar and the Tyranids was the bloody battle between the Craftworld Iyanden and Hive Fleet Kraken, which reduced the massive Eldar cityship to mere remnants of its glory, and which was saved only through the timely intervention of the Pirate Prince Yriel and his Eldritch Raiders.
The Eldar have much experience with these dark, evil beings since they were originally created by the Old Ones to aid them in their ancient war with the Necrons. The Eldar have been searching for ways to rid the universe of the foul Necrons for thousands of years. As a relatively recent addition to Warhammer 40,000 lore, the Necrons are a threat to all life in the universe, putting the Eldar in alliance with the Imperium once more against this foe. As usual, such alliances are fleeting and do not last beyond major battles against the Necrons.
- "I have followed the myriad potential futures of the Tau with great interest. Though barely even striplings compared to us, I feel a strange protectiveness towards them. In time I believe they will exceed even our greatest feats and master the darkness within their souls."
So far, there have been no reports of any major contact between the Eldar Craftworlds and the Tau Empire. However it can be assumed that one of three things would happen should the Eldar and the Tau have more contact: The Tau see the Eldar as a threat to their Empire and the Greater Good, the Eldar Craftworlds come to view Tau expansionism as a threat to their way of life, or the Tau offer the Eldar a place in their Empire, which the Craftworlds would view with outright scorn. As the Eldar ultimately want to re-establish their own interstellar empire, they have no desire to bow to the effectively newborn interstellar civilisation of the Tau. As such, the Tau's hopes for the Eldar would be ill-founded. Finally, the Eldar and the Tau may come into conflict because the Eldar don't believe in the Tau's overriding philosophy of the Greater Good. The Eldar were sailing the stars long before Mankind, never mind the Tau, and have actually physically interacted with their own Gods in the past. The Tau Empire's philosophical belief of the Greater Good would seemingly have little appeal to the far older, more cynical Eldar, most of whom would likely consider Tau ideology to be grossly naive.
The Eldar are a race of fey-like humanoids similar in appearance and culture to the sylvan elves of ancient Terran mythology and literature, and they are the most ancient and technologically advanced of all the intelligent races of the Milky Way Galaxy, with the exception of the Old Ones, and their ancient enemies the Necrons. Their armies usually have the advantages of great mobility, potent psychic abilities and technology that is more advanced than that deployed by the human Imperium. In the sense that Warhammer 40,000 races are generally derived from the earlier Warhammer Fantasy universe, the Eldar are derived from the High Elves of the Warhammer World, except for the Eldar faction known as the Exodites who are the equivalent of the Wood Elves.
Etymology and Inspiration
The name Eldar is drawn from J. R. R. Tolkien's work the Silmarillion, where the hunter Valar Oromë discovers Elves far from the Blessed Realm of Valinor, in Middle-earth. In their own language the Elves were given the name "Eldar" (Quenya for "Star People") by the Valar Oromë, presumably for the fact their birth came in a time before the sun and the moon existed and because the elves have a particular love for the stars. The history of the Eldar in Warhammer 40,000 mimics that of Tolkien's elves, to the point that they are a "dwindling race" in the game universe, as the elves were in Middle-earth's Third Age.
The inspiration for the Eldar is heavily drawn from Celtic culture, such as their largely Gaelic-influenced language (similar to the dominant Sindarin Elvish in Tolkien's works which was somewhat based on Welsh), the names of their Craftworlds, their iconography and even one of their units, which is called the Howling Banshees.
The different Eldar Aspect Warrior paths can be seen as reminiscent of the many different styles of Chinese martial arts (kung fu). The Eldar cultural arrogance is similar to the ethnocentrism displayed by the Chinese of the Ming and Qing Dynasties when they first encountered European cultures that they considered barbaric and inferior. The late nineteenth century Chinese Confucian scholar Gu Hongming, speaking to an Englishman, is quoted as saying "Why, when you lived in caves and clothed yourselves with skins, we were cultured people."
The Eldar may also be seen to borrow from Japanese culture to a lesser extent in the appearance of some of their wargear and the use of shuriken-like kinetic ammunition in their most common ranged weapons. The Eldar "Path of the Warrior" can be seen to be akin to the "Way of the Samurai", Bushido.
- 40KOnline - Revamped successor site to Eldar Online
- Wargame Tactics for Eldar - A Wiki site for Eldar army tactics.
- Forge World - Eldar
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), "The Fall of the Eldar," pg. 322
- Citadel Journal Issue 44, "Codex Harlequins Update: Eldar", pp. 36-39
- Citadel Journal Issue 39, "Codex Harlequins: Eldar", pp. 4-13
- Citadel Journal Issue 19, "Harlequin Dreadnought: Eldar", pg. 17
- Citadel Journal Issue 18, "Eldar: The Lightning Assault" & "Behind the Masque: (Eldar) Harlequin Tactics", pp. 3-5, 65-67
- Citadel Journal Issue 17, "Harlequin", pp. 3-10
- Citadel Journal Issue 12, "Eldar Exodites: Rules & Conversions", pp. 26-30
- Citadel Journal Issue 5, "Eldar (Space Hulk 1st Ed.)", pp. 34-47
- Codex: Craftworld Eldar (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Eldar Craftworlds (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 15-16
- Codex: Eldar (6th Edition)
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition)
- Codex: Eldar (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition)
- Craftworld Iyanden (6th Edition) (Ebook)
- Dark Heresy: Creatures Anathema (RPG), pp. 76-85
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pg. 64
- Imperial Armour Aeronautica, pp. 48-56
- Imperial Armour Apocalypse (2008), pp. 54-64
- Imperial Armour Apocalypse (2013), pp. 93-101
- Imperial Armour Apocalypse II, pp. 54-56
- Imperial Armour Apocalypse Second Edition, pp. 57-68
- Imperial Armour II - Ork, Eldar & Dark Eldar Vehicles for Warhammer 40,000, pp. 10-20
- Imperial Armour Tactica Aeronautica, pg. 36
- Imperial Armour Update 1, pp. 34-37
- Imperial Armour Update 2, pp. 18-27
- Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymera
- The Art of Warhammer 40,000, pg. 181
- Warhammer 40,000 Compilation
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (5th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (4th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (2nd Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader (1st Edition)
- White Dwarf 304 (US), "Index Xenos: Discussing the Eldar of the Biel-Tan Craftworld", pp. 88-91
- White Dwarf 207 (US), "Aerial Supremacy: The Eldar Vyper Jetbike" & "A Clash of Patrols: Battle Report - Ultramarines vs. Eldar", pp. 10-17
- White Dwarf 196 (US), "Civil War: Battle Report - Eldar vs. Eldar", pp. 92-109
- White Dwarf 191 (US), "Tyranid Invasion: GW Campaign of Ichar IV Defense by Ultramarines, Imperial Guard and Eldar", pp. 76-81
- White Dwarf 189 (US), "The Great Devourer!: Battle Report - Imperial Guard & Eldar Alliance vs. Tyranids", pp. 46-63
- White Dwarf 186 (UK), "Titan Legions - Eldar Revenant Scout Titans", pp. 37-42
- White Dwarf 177 (US), "Hold the Line: Battle Report - Eldar vs. Space Wolves", pp. 52-72
- White Dwarf 173 (US), "Eldar Pheonix Lords", pp. 6-9
- White Dwarf 172 (US), "The Eldar", pp. 5-16
- White Dwarf 171 (US), "Warp Spider Aspect Warriors: Eldar", pp. 38-41
- White Dwarf 170 (UK), "Epic Eldar Armies", pp. 39-42
- White Dwarf 164 (UK), "Doom of the Eldar", pp. 27-32
- White Dwarf 160 (UK), "The Assault on Barbarius: Battle Report - Imperial Guard vs. Eldar", pp. 20-39
- White Dwarf 159 (US), "Eldar in Tyranid Attack" & "Space Marine & Eldar Scouts", pp. 5-12, 14-17
- White Dwarf 147 (US), "Eldar Avatar and War Walker" & "The Eldar Craftworlds Colour Schemes", pp. 9-11, 12-14
- White Dwarf 144 (US), "Epic Forces: Eldar" & "Titan Data Sheets: Eldar Titans", pp. 24-33, 62-72
- White Dwarf 143 (US), "Stompers!" & "(Eldar) Alaitoc Craftworld vs. The Blood Angels: Battle Report", pp. 12-20, 41-59
- White Dwarf 141 (US), "Alaitoc Craftworld vs. The Blood Angels: Battle Report", pp. 32-45
- White Dwarf 138 (US), "Alaitoc Craftworld Eldar Army", pp. 20-29
- White Dwarf 136 (US), "'Eavy Metal: Eldar Guardians", pp. 18-21
- White Dwarf 127 (US), "Eldar" by Rick Priestley, Jes Goodwin, William King & Lindsey D. Le Doux Paton, pp. 13-52
- White Dwarf 126 (US), "Knights: Eldar & Human War Machines", pp. 28-45
- White Dwarf 124 (US), "Eldar: Jes Goodwin's Sketch Book", pp. 30-33
- White Dwarf 110 (US), "Eldar - Eldar Phantom Class Titans: Shade & Spectre Variants & Eldar Vehicles", pp. 60-69
- White Dwarf 107 (US), "Eldar Harlequin Jet Bike: Stats & Background", pg. 15
- White Dwarf 106 (US), "Harlequins Army List" & "Eldar Jet Bike: Stats", pp. 11-18, 40
- White Dwarf 105 (US), "Harlequins" by Graeme Davis, pp. 35-46
- White Dwarf 101 (US), "Chapter Approved: Eldar; The Infinity Circuit, The Spirit-Warriors & Eldar Ghost-Warriors", pp. 52-55
- Xenology by Simon Spurrier, pp. 25-26