- "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.
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.
Because an Eldar spirit is reborn into a new body upon death, one individual was able to live countless lives. This, coupled with their already nigh-eternal lifespan and their ability to experience the highs and lows of emotions more powerful than that of any human, rendered the Eldar nearly immortal, consumed by arrogance and dedicated to the pursuit of their own pleasure. 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.
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. Disgusted, some of the Eldar left the central worlds of their empire to settle in the outlying regions of the galaxy, where they built great starships of such tremendous size that they could be considered artificial planets and were called Craftworlds. Other Eldar stayed on the homeworlds to try and alter the path their race had taken.
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. 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. 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. The Prince of Pleasure's awakening was so forceful that it tore a hole between the physical realm and the Immaterium, plunging the Eldar homeworlds into a nightmare existence, trapped within the realm of Chaos. This region is now known as the Eye of Terror, and is the home of the forces of Chaos in the 41st Millennium.
Since this time, which is known as the Fall of the Eldar, the Eldar have been a broken and scattered people, lacking both political cohesion and true purpose. Many of the outlying Eldar colony worlds, whose people are known as the Exodites, have slipped to a more primitive technological level similar to that of some feudal human worlds, while the survivors of the Eldar homeworlds drift through the stars in colossal nomad fleets and their Craftworlds, each independent of the others. All the Eldar have been greatly changed by The Fall and the rise of Slaanesh.
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 fight 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 inbetween. 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 fare 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.
Forces of the Eldar
An Autarch is one of those few members of the Eldar species who have mastered many of the Eldar Paths over the centuries, including one or more facets of the Path of the Warrior. They possess a consummate understanding of the art of war and serve as the supreme commanders of an Eldar Craftworld's warhost. This Eldar Path, known as the Path of Command, is pursued by highly skilled individuals who believe martial excellence can be achieved by gaining a wider perspective of battle that allows the Eldar warhost to achieve victory in the most efficient and lethal way possible. Autarchs do not limit themselves to the single-minded specifications required of a single Path like most Eldar. The Autarch possesses an unparalleled strategic ability which far outshines an Exarch's obsession with only a singular facet of war. This enables an Autarch to lead a warhost that operates in perfect unison, with each component of the Eldar war machine functioning in perfect synchronicity. It is not only at the aspect of command that an Autarch excels, for they are consummate warriors as well, and often spearhead assaults, fighting an enemy army's leader in personal combat or contemptuously destroying war machines with ease. Autarchs are considered integral parts of Eldar culture due to their versatility and ability to lead the Eldar on the myriad paths of life and death.
A Farseer is the most potent and respected form of Eldar psyker or Seer who was once a Warlock but has now become lost upon the Path of the Seer forever in the same way as the Exarchs are wed eternally to the Path of the Warrior. 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. Warlocks who lose themselves upon this Path ultimately become Farseers. The most aggressive and warlike of all the potential variants of the Path of the Seer is that of the Warlock. Since Warlocks are Seers who once trod the Path of the Warrior, their previous experience as Aspect Warriors allows them to harness their more destructive impulses when using their psychic powers in combat. The ornate helmets worn by Warlocks in the field are kept in the shrines of the Warrior Aspects as a sign of the close link between Warlocks and their former status as 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.
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.
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 is the first and the oldest of all the Phoenix Lords, and his name in the Eldar Lexicon means the "Hand of Asuryan", the father and ruler of all the lost Eldar Gods. 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. He founded the first of the Aspect Warrior shrines.
- 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, whom turned to Chaos and became the Fallen Phoenix.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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. 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 no 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.
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 Mekaniaks. 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 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.
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. For these two reasons many of its citizens will at one time or another decide to leave the strict confines of the vast starship and strike out on their own or in small groups. They will return in times of need, however, and so all Alaitoc armies will have a substantial force of scouts and Rangers. 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 known only as 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
- Meros - Meros is remembered as "the doomed Craftworld."
Since the Fall of the Eldar some Craftworlds have been destroyed. These include:
- Idharae - This Craftworld was destroyed in an all-out siege launched by the Invaders Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes; 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.
- Kher-Ys - The Eldar Craftworld of Kher-Ys drifted too close to the Eye of Terror and was destroyed through the guile and deceit of Ail'Slath'Sleresh, a Keeper of Secrets Greater Daemon, known also as the Heartslayer. Bewitching an Eldar maiden, the daughter of an Autarch of Kher-Ys, he stole the psychic key from the Autarch and was able to drop the psychic barriers that protected the Craftworld from the daemons of the Eye. In a great multitude, daemons descended upon the Craftworld and gorged themselves on the souls of the Eldar of Kher-Ys and Slaanesh claimed his prized jewel. This dead Craftworld now drifts among the outer eddies of the Eye of Terror empty and desolate, its corridors still ringing with the death cries of its people and the laughter of its daemonic slayers.
- Malan'tai - The smaller Craftworld of Malan'tai was turned into a lifeless, drifting derelict in 812.M41, by the assault of a uniquely adapted Tyranid Zoanthrope that could feed upon the psychic energy and souls of its victims, known as the Doom of Malan'tai. Only a few scattered survivors managed to escape the fate of their fallen kinsmen. The Craftworld's husk was later infected by the presence of a Slaaneshi Keeper of Secrets named N'Kari who began to devour the remaining souls within the Craftworld's Infinity Circuit and those within the Spirit Stones of the fallen, but was defeated by a force of Grey Knight Purifiers.
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 Harlequin are followers of the strange Eldar God called Cegorach, the Laughing God, one of the only two Eldar Gods to survive the Fall and consumption by Slaanesh. Harlequins are warrior troubadours whose carefully constructed masques and impressive displays of mime and acrobatics tell the many strange stories of Eldar Mythology. They wear exotic multicolored costumes, brightly patterned to represent figures from the Eldar myth cycles. The groups will wander through the Webway, visiting Craftworlds and other Eldar strongholds in order to re-enact stories from the ancient mythic cycles through song and dance. These strange performances are highly symbolic and are considered an important event for the Eldar.
The Harlequins will also appear in times of need and fight alongside other Eldar, aiding them in the interest of some secret goal. They are highly skilled combatants who deal almost entirely in close-quarters melee combat. Harlequins are the sworn enemies of Chaos. They guard the Black Library, the hidden Craftworld within the Webway where all the Eldar's knowledge of Chaos lies. The Harlequins are an enigmatic group even amongst the other Eldar, and they rarely communicate with anyone outside of their troupes at all.
Outcasts and Corsairs
Unlike the other groups of Eldar society, the Eldar Outcasts and Corsairs are not very clearly defined. Some Eldar pirates are actually just part of the long-ranging fleets of the Craftworlds, and others are groups of Harlequins or Dark Eldar that have been mistakenly identified. Some may even be an enduring fleet of surviving Eldar that fled from the Fall but lost or lacked a Craftworld to rally around, and have since forged a base on an asteroid or uninhabited world. Many Eldar will leave their regular lives following one of the Eldar Paths to become Outcasts and pirates for a time, enjoying the freedom and wealth of experience this offers them before they return to more ordered and structured lives.
There are also those Eldar that have been forced into piracy and exile, often as a result of their own actions and choices. Some Eldar refuse to obey the strict rules of the Craftworld or commit crimes among their people, and choose to flee rather than face judgment. One of the most famous pirates was Yriel of Craftworld Iyanden, a former fleet commander who was exiled for leaving his Craftworld under-defended whilst pursuing an attack on the Forces of Chaos within the Eye of Terror. He and his crew formed a band of pirates that worked between various human planets, often contracting their services out to the various human colony worlds. He eventually assembled a sizeable fleet, and later returned to save Iyanden from the assault of the Tyranids and redeem himself.
Many Eldar pirates are far less noble, however. There are many among them who have taken the same dark road as the Eldar of old, pursuing what many Eldar refer to as the Path of Damnation, and work as pirates in order to fill their bottomless thirst for thrill and combat. In general, all Eldar pirates are quick-tempered and unpredictable, traits in the Eldar that surface rapidly once they are outside the ordered societies they build for themselves to keep the temptations of Chaos at bay.
Neither pirates nor Outcasts are welcome aboard Craftworlds except briefly, for their minds are dangerously unbounded and attract daemonic predators from the psychic realms of the Warp. Daemons or other Warp entities can home in on the mind of an Outcast and lodge in the psycho-supportive environment of the Craftworld's Wraithbone core. Outcasts are also disruptive in another sense, for their presence can distract the young and inexperienced from the Eldar path by their romantic tales of travel and freedom from all constraint.
The Eldar Paths
The Eldar are forever wary of falling into the same trap which led them to the Fall. In order to avoid slipping into such debauchery and wanton disregard for life and law, most Eldar take an extremely focused view of life. Rather than dabbling in various skills and occupations, they will choose a single skill or role and dedicate themselves wholly, in body and soul, to mastering it. Their long lives mean that a single Eldar will often master several skills or Paths in the course of their life, pursuing each until they feel they have reached their potential and then choosing a new one. The nature of the Eldar makes it easy for them to become obsessed with their goal, however, and many Eldar become locked into their focus forever, unable to let go of their role. Such Eldar are said to be lost on their Path.
The Path of the Warrior
Eldar are known to pursue any task they set out to do with an intensity that makes human efforts pale in comparison. When an Eldar feels called to the Path of the Warrior, he or she will join an Aspect Shrine, a cult of Eldar warriors who train themselves to embody an aspect of the Eldar War God Khaine.
Each Aspect Shrine is led by an Exarch, an Eldar who has found him-or-herself unable to leave the Path of the Warrior. These Exarchs are powerful warriors, doomed to either die on the battlefield, or to eventually be chosen to become the Avatar of Khaine. The first member or founder of an entire Aspect Shrine is called the Phoenix Lord. When an Aspect warrior becomes an Exarch, forever forgoing the pursuit of another Path, they will don one of the ancient suits of armour that belong to that shrine, and according to legend this suit will bond to their flesh irreversibly. This means that the new warrior merges with all the previous Exarchs of the suit, like a tiny version of the Infinity Circuit.
Below are listed some of the most common Eldar Warrior Aspects. The list is by no means exhaustive, but these are Aspects whose shrines exist on more than just one or two Craftworlds.
- Dire Avengers - The Dire Avengers are the oldest and most numerous Aspect. They represent the Eldar War God Khaine in his aspect as the noblest of warriors. They are merciless to their foes and unwavering in their devotion to their people. They are armed with Shuriken Catapults, an effective if short ranged weapon, and perform as elite troops. A Dire Avenger Exarch can be equipped to improve his squads' close combat abilities by being equipped with a Diresword along with a Shuriken Pistol or a Shimmershield along with a Power Weapon for more melee strength. The Phoenix Lord of the Dire Avengers is Asurmen, the Hand of Asur. He was the first of the Phoenix Lords and the greatest, who instructed all the other founding Aspect Phoenix Lords in the skills of combat.
- Dark Reapers - The Dark Reapers represent the Eldar war god Khaine in his aspect as a destroyer, and specialize in long range firepower. They are the most menacing of the Eldar Aspect Warriors, their skull-masked costume echoes that of their founder and Phoenix Lord, the Harvester of Souls, Maugan Ra. Their standard weapon is a reaper launcher which is a powerful, long-ranged weapon that fires several small missiles at the target. The Dark Reapers superb aim enables them to dominate the battlefield, pinning down enemy forces and destroying their chosen targets at will. An Exarch of the Dark Reapers Aspect wears a more potent form of Dark Reaper Aspect Armour and can wield a number of different special weapons, including an Eldar Missile Launcher, a Tempest Launcher and a Shuriken Cannon.
- Eagle Pilot - An Eagle Pilot is an Eldar Aspect Warrior, who like the Swooping Hawks, takes exultant pleasure in the arts of aerial combat. These Eldar are superb pilots of any type of Eldar aircraft or spacecraft, but especially excel in the aerial arts of war. Their skill and artistry in flight is nearly unmatched by the combat pilots of any other species, as they take to the skies in their Nightwing interceptors or Phoenix strike aircraft. Their Phoenix Lord is Amon Harakht, of whom almost nothing is known to Imperial savants.
- Fire Dragons - The Fire Dragons are modeled upon the dragon of Eldar myth, the sinuous fire-breathing reptile that represents wanton destruction. Fire Dragons are aggressive and warlike and seek nothing less than the total annihilation of their chosen foes. They have an unsurpassed mastery of heat weapons, and take savage delight in the devastation they create. The Fire Dragons specialize in long-range firepower and anti-tank warfare. They carry a fusion gun and melta bombs, both excellent weapons for dealing with vehicles. The fusion gun is also very effective against heavy infantry such as Space Marine Terminators, but is limited by its short range. The Exarchs of the Fire Dragons are often armed with a powerful Dragon's Breath Flamer, which can deal massive amounts of damage unto lighter infantry, especially groups of light infantry troops. Fire Dragon Exarchs make for excellent tank destroyers, as well as highly dangerous in close combat. It is said their Exarchs generate a corona of lambent flame around themselves when the battle lust is upon them. The Phoenix Lord of the Fire Dragons is Fuegan, the Burning Lance.
- Howling Banshees - The Howling Banshees are a close combat aspect made up primarily of female Eldar. This Aspect specialises in highly mobile melee combat. 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 the most feared of all the Aspect Warriors draw their inspiration from this creature. The Howling Banshees are equipped with a shuriken pistol and power weapon. As the power weapon negates armor, the Banshees are very effective against well-armored opponents like Space Marines. Banshees also wear masks that contain psychosonic amplifiers that magnify their keening battle screams into mind-destroying shock waves. This inflicts severe damage to the central nervous system of the Eldar's foe, inspiring a feeling of mortal terror and causing momentary paralysis. A full squad of Banshees activating their masks in unison can cripple an enemy unit before a single blow is struck. A Howling Banshee Exarch is deadly for she can wield a pair of Mirrorblades or the dreaded Executioner. The Phoenix Lord of the Howling Banshees is Jain Zar, the Storm of Silence.
- Shadow Spectres - The Shadow Spectres are a recently re-discovered Eldar Aspect Warriors who specialise in the deployment of highly-mobile, infantry-based anti-armour firepower who are experts at striking at enemy vehicles from concealment and extreme long-range. The Shadow Spectres represent the Eldar God of War, Khaine in his aspect as the bringer of unexpected death on the battlefield. Armed with Prism Rifles, which are infantry versions of the massive Prism Cannons deployed on Eldar Fire Prism grav-tanks, Holofield emitters and equipped with Jetpacks, their mobility allows them to hunt down their chosen targets with the implacable patience of the dead, materialising seemingly from the very air to unleash their overwhelming firepower. Shadow Spectre Aspect Warriors are capable of combining the power of their Prism Rifles using a sophisticated targeting matrix known as the Ghostlight. The Ghostlight combines each individual shot from a squad of Shadow Spectres into a single searing blast of energy with a greatly magnified range that allows the Aspect Warriors to destroy an enemy's armoured support from an unseen location far across the battlefield. The long-lost Phoenix Lord of the Shadow Spectres is Irillyth, the Shade of Twilight
- Shining Spears - The Shining Spears are one of the rarest and most specialised of the Eldar Aspect Warriors. They represent 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 Aspects for they are the only Aspect Warriors to make use of the anti-gravity Jetbike. Shining Spears wield the Laser Lance as their only weapon. The Laser Lance shoots a powerful short-ranged laser beam that is strong enough to be used to run down any enemy units. In this way the Shining Spears are meant to operate similar to high-technology heavy cavalry units. The Shining Spear Exarch can be given a bright lance, providing an accurate but very expensive anti-tank unit. As one of the rarer Aspects, the identity of the Shining Spears Phoenix Lord is not known.
- Striking Scorpions - The Striking Scorpions are another close combat Aspect. They are armed with Chainswords, Shuriken Pistols and helmet-mounted Mandiblasters. Theypossess better armour than the other Warrior Aspects, and are generally physically stronger than most Eldar warriors. These characteristics allow them to work very well against large numbers of weaker opponents. They are also effective against stronger opponents, but their Eldar physical fragility works against them here. The Striking Scorpion Exarch can be armed with a biting blade which is effective against a few enemies, and a Scorpion's Claw, which combines a Powerfist and a Shuriken Catapult. The Phoenix Lord of the Striking Scorpions is Karandras, the Shadow Hunter.
- Swooping Hawks - The Swooping Hawks are a highly mobile Warrior Aspect. Equipped with an anti-gravitic Jump Pack with stylized wings for atmospheric control, they can move rapidly across the battlefield, dropping grenades upon the enemy before swooping in for the kill. Their weapons are not that powerful, and they work best as a flanking unit. However, their Haywire Grenades can wreak havoc on enemy vehicles and infantry. Also their lasblasters can fire quick (although weak) shots at the enemy. They do rely heavily on mobility and their ability to retreat quickly. The Swooping Hawk Exarch can be tooled up to be devastating in close combat. The Phoenix Lord of the Swooping Hawks is Baharroth, the Cry of the Wind.
- Warp Spiders - The Warp Spiders are another highly mobile Aspect, equipped with a Warp Spider jump generator which allows them to jump into and out of the Warp, avoiding any obstacles in their way. This is considered extremely dangerous, as it might attract the attention of daemons. Since they do not have to run all over the battlefield, Warp Spiders have stronger armor than most other aspects. They are armed with death spinners, which fire a net of monomolecular threads which slice into the flesh of the enemy as it entangles them. Warp Spiders often make use of a set of cybernetic arms to supplement their own in battle. The Aspect's Death Spinner weapon is extremely powerful, although it lacks the ability to pierce Power Armour. The Warp Spider Exarch can be given the ability to withdraw from combat through Warp teleportation, enhancing the Warp Spiders' survivability. The Warp Spiders have no known Phoenix Lord.
The Path of the Seer
Where the Aspects are responsible for the defense of the Eldar, the Seers are responsible for leading them. Those that start down the Path of the Seer are known as Warlocks if they had previously ever followed the Path of the Warrior. Those Seers that become lost upon the path forever are known as the Farseers. A council of the most powerful Seers generally governs a Craftworld or other Eldar group.
Unsurprisingly, the primary role of the Seers is to look into the future using their psychic powers in an attempt to discern the best path for the Eldar to take in their endeavours. This is done through the casting of Runestones, fragments of Wraithbone and other psychosensitive materials that react to the skeins of 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. With so few Eldar remaining, the Seers attempt to preserve every Eldar life they can, regardless of the cost to other intelligent races.
The Farseers lead the Eldar of the Craftworlds in times of war as well as peace. On the battlefield their powers of precognition allow them to foresee enemies' attacks and movements, and warn their comrades against imminent changes on the field of battle. While less capable of foreseeing events in such harried conditions, Warlocks will often serve as officers in battle, leading units of other Eldar and helping to coordinate the overall battle, as well as lend support through their destructive psychic attacks.
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.
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."
- -- Farseer Eldrad Ulthran of Ulthwe
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's somewhat naive pseudo-religion of the Greater Good has little appeal to the far older, more experienced and more cynical Eldar.
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.
- 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", p. 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 (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
- 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", p. 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