- "A Craftworld is a sentient being, with a hundred thousand minds."
The Craftworlds are vast, planetoid-sized spacecraft populated by the highly advanced humanoid species known as the Eldar. The Craftworlds travel through the void of space at sublight speeds, carrying the greater remnant of the Eldar race after their Fall. Each Craftworld is a self-sufficient, independent realm with its own distinctive culture. The most important Eldar Craftworlds of the Milky Way Galaxy are listed and described here.
History of the Craftworlds
Before the Fall of the Eldar
Prior to the Fall, the Craftworlds were vast Eldar commercial starships sung from Wraithbone; they were effectively self-contained starfaring communities housing hundreds of Eldar families. Trading missions could take the Craftworlds thousands of light years beyond the borders of the Eldar empire, separating the community from the Eldar homeworlds for centuries. These colossal spacecraft would travel across the galaxy using the Eldar Webway, trading with the many intelligent alien races they encountered before returning centuries later to the Eldar homeworlds. This meant the Craftworld communities had already developed a strong sense of independence and self-reliance from the heart of their civilization - an independence that prevented them from being infected by the increasing decadence and sadistic hedonism that ultimately consumed their species. Because a Craftworld might return to the rest of Eldar civilization only three or four times in a thousand Terran years, it was easy for them to perceive the degeneration of Eldar society, while to the Eldar as a whole the slow decline was too gradual to realize. As the final weeks leading to the cataclysm that would be called the Fall of the Eldar approached, the various Craftworlds' populations returned to the heart of the Eldar empire, finding their worlds already in ruin, torn apart by the orgy of sadism that heralded the birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh. The Craftworlds' inhabitants were horrified by the changes in Eldar society. The Eldar Seers who had remained behind and uncorrupted enlisted the aid of the Craftworld Eldar to undertake a titanic effort to save their people. Onto each Eldar Craftworld, the last uncorrupted people from each Eldar homeworld were loaded. Taking with them any Eldar who still remained sane, the Craftworlds fled the heart of the Eldar civilization, along with works of art, plant life and animals, and whatever else of Eldar culture that could be saved. The massive psychic shockwave of Slaanesh's awakening caught some of the Craftworlds and destroyed them alongside the Eldar homeworlds, while others were pulled into orbit around the newly-formed Eye of Terror Warp rift at the moment of the Prince of Pleasure's birth. Others survived for thousands of years before their people finally faded and died. The rest drift throughout the galaxy today, their exact number uncertain, as contact with and between them can be difficult and intermittent.
After the Fall
For thousands of years after the Fall unto the current day (the 41st Millennium), the Craftworlds have carried the greater part of the surviving members of the Eldar race. Craftworlds contain Webway gates that connect tunnels through the Warp. The Webway links the Craftworlds to each other as well as to thousands of planets scattered across the territory of the lost Eldar empire, allowing the dispersed Eldar civilization some measure of cohesion. Because the Webway is labyrinthine and impossible to accurately map, many Craftworlds are effectively lost, unknown and cut off from the greater part of the remaining Eldar civilization. Craftworlds have grown greatly in size since the Fall, when they became the sanctuary worlds of the Eldar race. They are now approximately 10 to 100 times bigger in both volume and population size than they were before the Fall. Craftworlds are well-named, for they are effectively artificial worlds in space, each a self-contained biosystem, with forested and natural areas as well as urbanised ones. These natural areas provide a breathable atmosphere for the Craftworld and renewable resources. There are sections of some Craftworlds that are uninhabited and awaiting reconstruction. Vast space docks located outside the Craftworld house fleets of Eldar spacecraft. These fleets are capable of traveling through the Warp tunnels of the Webway, allowing the Eldar of the relatively slow-moving Craftworld to bring their forces to areas of the galaxy thousands of light years distant. Every Eldar of a Craftworld is a highly trained warrior - in battle these citizen-soldiers are known as Guardians, forming the Craftworld's defensive militia. Craftworlds are independent political realms, sometimes acting in cooperation with the other Eldar Craftworlds, combining their military forces and acting in concert to achieve a common objective, and trading or exchanging knowledge. Eldar Exodites often trade with their counterparts who live in the Craftworlds, but believe that the Craftworld Eldar are too close to the old ways of decadence for their own good. However, the militarily stronger Craftworld Eldar grant some protection to Exodite Eldar from attacks by Orks, the Dark Eldar, Chaos and the Imperium of Man.
As mentioned, the populations of the Craftworlds of the 41st Millennium probably now comprise the majority of the surviving Eldar race in the galaxy of the 41st Millennium, although it is impossible to say just how many Eldar this actually 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. Most of the Craftworlds contain special biodomes that house plants and wildlife from their original homeworld, and these are carefully tended and preserved by the Eldar as the last vestiges of what they have lost. 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 them to clash with each other on the field of battle, though this is always a last resort.
Far out on the frontiers of the galaxy, on the edge of explored space in the Ultima Segmentum, lies the Alaitoc Craftworld. The Alaitoc Eldar are zealous in their guard against the touch of Slaanesh, even more so than is common amongst the other Craftworld Eldar. As such, Alaitoc is strictly governed to prevent any emergence of the sadistic obsessions that the Eldar are prone to as a species. For this reason, many of Alaitoc's citizens will at one time or another decide to leave the strict confines of the starship and strike out on their own or in small groups to pursue the Path of the Outcast and become Eldar Rangers. They will return in times of need, however, and so all military forces deployed by Alaitoc will always possess a substantial force of Rangers.
As noted, Alaitoc is an unusually strict Craftworld in making sure its citizens follow the Eldar Paths and Eldar traditions; in response, many of the more freedom-loving individuals from this Craftworld choose instead the Eldar Path of the Outcast, becoming Rangers or even Eldar Pirates who roam the galaxy and make their living raiding primarily Imperial commerce. While all Craftworlds make use of the Rangers, who are the most highly accurate snipers amongst the Eldar, none field or produce more than Alaitoc. Though Alaitoc Rangers do not reside upon the Craftworld and prefer to travel the galaxy, these Rangers retain their loyalty to Alaitoc and will return to their Craftworld on occasion to visit family and friends. Aside from deploying large numbers of standard Rangers, Alaitoc is also the only Craftworld to field the highly skilled Rangers known as Pathfinders. These snipers without compare can cause havoc amongst even the most powerful and numerous of enemy forces. In times of extreme need, such as during the Imperium of Man's recent invasion of Alaitoc, the Craftworld sometimes recalls its Rangers to contribute to Alaitoc's defence forces.
Alaitoc uses a sword rune which represents the Sword of Vaul, the weapon forged in Eldar myth for the Smith God's desperate battle against the War God Khaela Mensha Khaine. It represents the defiance and determination of its people. Alaitoc and its forces are associated with the colours blue and yellow. The Craftworld is known to be located in the Ultima Segmentum that was the heart of the ancient Eldar empire.
The Craftworld is described as a continent-sized, flat disk (although there are hundreds of levels) whose surfaces contain numerous domes, each with its own environment and climatic theme. There are miles-high protrusions on its surface, serving as landing docks, weapons platforms, etc. It is a vast, shielded spacecraft that trails its own Webway portal. Gigantic solar sails provide the needed energy for the artificial world to function.
Alaitoc was recently assaulted by a huge Imperial force after an attack by Eldar Pirates on an Imperial shipping convoy was traced back to the Outcasts' home Craftworld, which happened to be Alaitoc. Tired of the constant raids of the Eldar pirates, the Imperium determined to make an example of the Craftworld which allowed its citizens to attack Imperial shipping and take human lives. The surprise assault upon Alaitoc utilised a large Imperial Navy fleet, numerous Imperial Guard Regiments, and the Sons of Orar Space MarinesChapter. At the time, the Craftworld was in fixed orbit around a dying star, using the tremendous energy of the star's dying throes to recharge its solar sails. There was no time to get away before the invading human force was upon it. Therefore the Craftworld's Autarch and Farseer Council mobilized all of its Aspect Shrines as well as the regular Eldar army -- comprised of Alaitoc's Guardians, civilian citizen-soldiers who had been trained in weapons and/or had previously walked the Path of the Warrior. Also awoken was the Craftworld's Avatar of Kaela Mensha Khaine and several powerful Eldar Phantom Titans to help in the defence of the great vessel. Additionally, the Phoenix Lords Baharroth, Maugan Ra and Karandras all offered their aid.
The Eldar's advanced laser technology proved effective against the Imperial Navy fleet, and the Alaitoc Bonesingers outsmarted the invading Imperial infantry by trapping them within the Craftworld's Wraithbone structure. Despite these maneuvers, the Imperial forces held on to their initial beachhead, helped by a vicious Drop Pod torpedo attack led by the Space Marines that successfully penetrated deep into the Craftworld but met increasing resistance from Alaitoc's Aspect Warriors, who were backed by the extraordinary combat abilities of the three Phoenix Lords. Yet the Eldar were forced to retreat from the Imperial forces' onslaught in order to better defend the Craftworld's Infinity Circuit and its core cities. This bitter retreat let the regiments of the Imperial Guard and the Space Marines overrun the settlements of Exodites that existed at the Craftworld's periphery. Despite the Imperial might arrayed against the Craftworld and the territory the Emperor's forces had already seized, the Farseers of Alaitoc foresaw the ultimate defeat of the Imperial offensive and the expulsion of the Mon-Keigh from the sacred confines of their home.
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 closest 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.
- "We bring only death, and leave only carrion. It is a message even a Human can understand."
- — Reqhiel of the Sons of Fuegan
The most martial and aggressive of the Craftworlds, Biel-Tan has made the decision to try and reforge the Eldar Empire, by eliminating the younger races who have "usurped" the galaxy. Each Craftworld carries the seeds of Eldar culture. Not all are identical by any means, as each reflects the cultural heritage of its long dead world of origin. Biel-Tan is renowned for the strong warrior ideals of its people. For the Eldar of Biel-Tan the Way of the Warrior, the life-stage that encompasses the Aspect Warriors, is considered the first step upon the Path of the Eldar. Upon reaching physical maturity a Biel-Tan Eldar becomes an Aspect Warrior, and only once he has fulfilled this role can he continue along the Path of the Eldar. The Eldar of Biel-Tan have a strong honour code and believe that the best way to die is in battle fighting the enemies of Biel-Tan. In the centre of the Craftworld there is a special Chamber of Heroes where the Spirit Stones of dead Aspect Warriors are placed. When the Runeseers have to make a particularly difficult decision about the future of their Craftworld, they retire to the Chamber of Heroes to consult with the warrior dead. The dead of particular battles are arranged together and are often referred to by the name of the battle in which they fell -- for example, the Dead of Corrus fell fighting Chaos on an ancient Eldar colony world of the same name.
When the Eldar of Biel-Tan go to war they assemble a warhost known as the Bahzhakhain in the Eldar Lexicon which means "Swordwind" or "Tempest of Blades." The Swordwind's tactic is a single, swift strike and taking the enemy by surprise. This tactic works considerably well with the elite fighting skills of the many Aspect Warriors eliminating the enemy before they can respond. The Biel-Tan therefore make perfect use of the speed and maneuverability of the Wave Serpents and Falcon Grav Tanks. The main target of the Biel-Tan are non-Eldar colonists -- particularly non-Eldar occupying Eldar Maiden Worlds. It is especially galling to the Eldar who created these paradise worlds from dead worlds to find them overrun with inferior species. The Eldar of Biel-Tan believe the success of other alien races is a threat to the expansion of the reborn Eldar Empire. For this reason the Biel-Tan particularly hate the Orks, Orks being a completely expansionist race, whose occupation of a world quickly becomes permanent. In many cases Biel-Tan have helped Imperial forces that were under heavy attack by Orks and to hunt down Ork Roks before the tide of Orks can overrun a planet. The Swordwind even possess an vehicle that is unique to Biel-Tan. It is a super-heavy gravity tank called a Void Spinner which is armed solely with a huge monofilament cannon which works just like any other monofilament weapon except that it incorporates a techno virus that sterilizes the ground that it touches. This makes it extremely useful against the Orks due to the Orkoid physiology's spore-based method of reproduction, preventing further re-infestation. The symbol of Biel-Tan is the Eldar Rune of Rebirth and its name literally translated into Low Gothic means the "Rebirth of Ancient Days." The Swordwind Court's battle colours are green and white, often with flowing vines painted on Biel-tan vehicles. Each thorn of these vines represents the death of a hated enemy.
The events in the PC game Dawn of War and its associated novels Tempest and Ascension show the destiny of the Eldar of Biel-Tan becoming rapidly intertwined with that of the 3rd Company of the Blood Ravens Chapter of Space Marines, as seen in the case of Farseer Macha and Captain Gabriel Angelos.
The symbol of Biel-Tan is the Eldar rune of rebirth and its name actually means the "Rebirth of Ancient Days." Biel-Tan Guardians wear white or grey armour with trim in green. Biel-Tan vehicles are often coloured entirely green, with large areas broken up using a pattern of twisting vines in a contrasting shade. For every kill an Eldar pilot makes, a thorn is added to the vine. The name of the Craftworld is a variation of the Irish Gaelic word Beltane (also known as Beltaine among the ancient Celtic peoples of Europe or May Day, May 1st). The colour scheme of the Biel-Tan Craftworld and its forces is generally green and white. The Biel-Tan Craftworld can usually can be found drifiting among the stellar winds in the Southern reaches of the galaxy, relative to Terra, in the Segmentum Tempestus.
- "Though we travel in darkness, we steer ever towards the light."
The Iyanden Craftworld was once one of the largest and most prosperous of all the remaining Eldar Craftworlds. Having barely survived the Fall, the Eldar of Iyanden did not long despair. Disaster fanned the flames of their arrogance where it had doused them in others. Those who had survived the Fall had done so precisely because they had never succumbed to corruption, or so the Eldar of Iyanden said, and it was their duty to rebuild. Thus did the seers of Iyanden harness ancient techniques of mysticism and science to recover the first Waystones from the Crone Worlds, and soon thereafter adapted the Infinity Circuit of their craftworld to be a conduit for the souls of the dead. Though Slaanesh's shadow could not be truly denied, the Dark Prince would at least have to work harder for his prizes in the years that followed. It was a small victory, but against a nemesis of such terrifying and indescribable power, there would only ever be small victories. Deeming this noble goal could be more swiftly achieved though unity of purpose, Iyanden sent emissaries through the Webway to other craftworlds. They shared with them the discoveries of the spirit stone and infinity circuit, and bade them join in their great work. Iyanden's Seers soon lamented, for though their discoveries were welcomed, their call to action fell upon deaf ears or encountered minds too closed to embrace the opportunity. Many craftworlds deemed their resources just barely sufficient to ensure their survival in a hostile galaxy, and would not indulge such grandiose plans. Other craftworlds -- Alaitoc and Ulthwé foremost amongst them -- claimed higher duties, ones that required them to focus their strength on the destruction of ancient enemies rather than rebuilding their own past. In the end, only the Eldar of Biel-Tan joined Iyanden's cause.
For thousands of years, Iyanden and Biel-Tann fought as inseparable allies, their distant craftworlds united by the common goal of defeating Chaos. Though the Eldar force were few, when considered on a galactic scale, their mastery of the Webway allowed their fleets and warhosts to span the stars with a speed and surety no other race could ever have hoped to match. As Biel-Tann purged the western arm, so did Iyanden drive the Forces of Chaos form the eastern rim, tirelessly defending the Exodites and Maiden Worlds they hoped would one day form the heart of a new civilisation. Then came the Tyranids. Iyanden had encountered such creatures before, but those had only been tendrils of the Hive Mind's awareness, groping blindly through space; now Iyanden stood exposed before the onset of an entire Hive Fleet. In their pride, the Eldar of Iyanden underestimated the threat. They believed that their might could weather even this storm, that their armies and fleets could vanquish the Great Devourer. Alas, they were terribly wrong.
Iyanden drifts through the stars of the eastern rim. Once, its halls were busy and vibrant with life, but no longer. Now, it is but a shadow of its former glory, a sombre and desolate vessel where the dead walk and the living dwindle. Iyanden teeters on the brink of extinction after being invaded by Hive Fleet Kraken in 992.M41. Thousands upon thousands of its noble warriors fell in battle against the Great Devourer. On the verge of utter defeat, Iyanden was saved from extermination by the return of Prince Yriel and his Eldritch Raiders. Yriel 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. Taking the final battle to the Craftworld itself, Yriel used an ancient artefact spear called the Spear of Twilight to slay the Hive Tyrant that led the assault. In doing so, Yriel doomed himself to a slow and painful death due to the psychic artefact being bound to its user and slowly burning away their soul. For now, however, the forceshield worn by Yriel staves off the constant negative energies of the Spear. Regardless of his actions, the chances of Iyanden recovering from its losses against the Tyranids are slim and their future looks bleak. Iyanden's name means "light in the Darkness" in the Eldar tongue and its chosen colours are gold and blue. The Iyanden Craftworld can usually be located in the galactic Southeast in Ultima Segmentum and is one of the two Eldar Craftworlds found near the borders of the Tau Empire, the other being Alaitoc.
The Eldar of Iyanden rely much more heavily upon the spirits of the dead to defend them because of their low numbers. Iyanden makes heavy use of the cybernetic warriors known as the Wraithguard and Wraithlords that are animated by the souls of their fallen kin. They have specialised psykers called Spiritseers who are trained in aiding the reanimated souls in battle. However, most Eldar see Spiritseers as necromancers, and even the Spiritseers themselves hate disturbing the spirits of the Eldar dead. Indeed, on the eve of the attack by Hive Fleet Kraken, Iyanden's leader Farseer Kelmon made the fateful decision to take the spirit stones from their resting places and place them into Wraithbone constructs to take to battle, knowing that they would make the difference in the Craftworld's survival. Since the release of the 2006 Codex: Eldar, all Craftworld Eldar armies can now field Spiritseers to help guide their wraith-construct warriors, not just Iyanden.
Asuryan is the oldest and greatest of the ancient Eldar deities. He is the father of the gods, the ancestor of all living things. The world-rune of the Iyanden craftworld means "Light in the Darkness," a reference to the ever-burning shrine that honours Asuryan and the flame of hope for the Eldar of Iyanden. It has been noted that the symbol of the Shrine of Asuryan closely resembles the torii of the Shinto religion practiced in Japan.
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.
The Wild Host of Saim-Hann is comprised almost entirely of Jetbikes. Any unit which cannot be mounted on Jetbikes or do not have a fast form of movement (such as Warp Jump generators or Swooping Hawk wings) is normally given a Wave Serpent transport. An exception to this are the Wraithlords and Dark Reapers, whose role is normally to give covering fire to the vehicles. The force is fast moving and tactically flexible, meaning that even against a far stronger or more numerous enemy the Eldar of Saim-Hann can always remain just beyond their reach. Almost every member of Saim-Hann is part of a Wild Rider family, including the seers, and this allows them to field many specialists who ride Jetbikes and Vypers. The families are maintained in a feudal hierarchy by one Eldar and the rule is passed down through hereditary tradition. The closest family to the "Chief" forms the Kinsmen who are the ruling elite of the family. The families will decide for themselves whether to go to war and the Kinsmen will then guide the chief in battle. Some families also fight with each other, although they usually take the form of a ritual single combat between champions. They are not uncommon, but fights to the death are very rare as first blood is usually sufficient to determine a winner.
The Saim-Hann warhosts are generally coloured red or a light scarlet colour. They are often highlighted with contrasting colours, mainly black, white or yellow in striped patterns. They also tend to use striping techniques on their vehicles. The different warrior clans have different personal symbols, however, so there is almost certain to be a significant amount of variation between clans, squads or even individuals. The Craftworld's rune is a stylised serpent, which is the Cosmic Serpent of Eldar myth. The serpent is significant in Eldar mythology because it is supposed to be the only creature to exist in the spiritual and physical worlds at the same time. Indeed, it is revered so much by the Saim-Hann Eldar that one of their coming-of-age rites is to catch a daggersnake (found on the worlds of the Exodites) in mid-strike. The serpent also epitomises the attack style of Saim-Hann -- a fast, deadly strike before withdrawing, leaving the enemy panicked and confused. The Warriors of Saim-Hann are proud, boisterous and aggressive, and use fast, mobile troops with a high quantity of Jetbikes. Young Guardians are always trying to outdo each other in contests of speed, and particularly in battle.
The name of the Craftworld is a variation of the Gaelic holiday Samhain (also called the Celtic New Year or in modern times, Halloween). Saim-Hann means "Quest for Enlightenment" in the Eldar tongue. The Saim-Hann Craftworld can usually be found in the Segmentum Pacificus.
During the Fall of the Eldar, the lamentable event that heralded the birth of the Dark Prince Slaanesh, Ulthwé was caught in the pull of the Eye of Terror. Here it has remained for millennia, trapped, where the Immaterium intersects with realspace. It is a breeding ground for Chaos and a gateway into the Warp. Due to this baleful proximity to the Eye, Ulthwé must be on constant high alert in case of attacks by the Forces of Chaos. Constant risk and warfare has hardened this Craftworld's citizens to hardship. Due to the lack of Aspect Warriors on the Craftworld, Ulthwé maintains a standing militia known as the Black Guardians, who are highly skilled and better-trained than the Guardians of other Craftworlds.
Craftworld Ulthwé is home to many of the most powerful psykers in the galaxy. The Eldar of Ulthwé cast themselves as sentinels, keeping an endless vigil over this dread gulf. There, the elite cadres of Farseers keep watch for the many and varied guises of Chaos, for Ulthwé’s many talented mystics can foresee future events with a greater precision than those of other craftworlds. This foresight allows them both to preserve their line and thwart their eternal enemies, the forces of the Great Enemy. Ulthwé uses such future-knowledge often to the detriment of other races, always acting to preserve the Eldar, whatever the cost. Due to the craftworld's close proximity to the Eye, Ulthwé maintains a larger number of Warlocks, though others believe it because their location causes exaggerated psychic powers in the Ulthwé population that results in the emergence of more Warlocks. Whatever the reason, many Warlocks, Seers and other psychic warriors follow the Ulthwé armies to battle and their psychic skills are even more advanced than those found on other Craftworlds, as they are able to see the skeins of fate further and farther ahead in time and with greater precision.
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. At the behest of the Council, the craftworld's warriors are sent into apparently unrelated battles that will ultimately concern Ulthwé itself. It is largely these seemingly arbitrary conflicts that have earned the Eldar their reputation for random and capricious behaviour. The Farseers of Ulthwé know well that stopping the fall of a single stone can sometimes prevent an avalanche, and they manipulate fate itself in order to avert disaster. After all, the Seers of Ulthwé would rather see a hundred thousand humans perish than a single Eldar life slip away.
Through its interference with other races, Ulthwé is supposedly responsible for several devastating events in the Imperium of Man, including the Second War for Armageddon, the Sanapan Scouring, the Mortis Annihilation and the Third Coming of Orian. Yet they have also made powerful allies within the Imperium, such as the ancient and wealthy House Belisarius of Terra, one of the families of the Navis Nobilite, having saved this house of Navigators' fortune and honour in times long past. The House of Belisarius then forged the Pact of Anwyn with the Eldar of Ulthwé, agreeing to repay their debt seven times by coming to the aid of Ulthwé whenever it is requested. In the 10,000 Terran years since the Pact was forged, the House of Belisarius has been called to repay five of the seven debts.
Because of Ulthwé's heavy reliance on Seers and Warlocks in its forces, the Craftworld has found itself lacking in Aspect Warriors. To compensate, it maintains a highly-trained standing army known as the Black Guardians named for the colour of their armour, who are dedicated to rapidly responding to the many attacks from the Eye of Terror. They are feared throughout the region around the Eye of Terror, both as saviours and dreaded foes. To perceive a force of Ulthwé Guardians as weak would be a grave mistake, for their Seers and Warlocks guide them even upon the battlefield. Thanks to this force, Ulthwé has survived millennia of constant attacks by the Forces of Chaos. Though the battle-psykers of Ulthwé have made their armies mighty indeed, continued reliance upon them has left the craftworld lacking in Aspect Warriors. The Path of the Seer is long and treacherous, leaving little time for an Eldar to focus upon the Path of the Warrior. It is for this reason that Ulthwé maintains a large standing army of Guardians.
The most powerful of these psykers was the late Eldrad Ulthran, who was the leader of the Craftworld prior to his apparent demise aboard a Blackstone Fortress. The Seers of Ulthwé are said to be much more capable than those of other Craftworlds and can see far into the future to shape the destiny of their Craftworld based on their insights. The Seers may predict catastrophe and steer Ulthwé away from it or determine the best course of action regardless of the cost to other races. Such foresight can lead the people of Ulthwé to perform actions which seem selfish and erratic in the eyes of Men and other races, but to the Seers of Ulthwé it is clear that such actions must be performed for the good of the Craftworld. Though results may not directly arise from such action, it will indirectly influence Ulthwé's fate perhaps far into the future.
Contact with Outsiders
Of all the Eldar Craftworlds, Ulthwé seems to interfere with the affairs of other intelligent races the most because of its people's greater ability to foresee the future. Some notable conflicts resulting from Ulthwé intervention include:
- Second War for Armageddon
- The Sanapan Scouring
- The Mortis Annihilation
- The Third Coming of Orian
- Battle of Lorn V
- 13th Black Crusade
- Dark Crusade on Kronus
- The Kaurava Campaign
A small Eldar Craftworld that had been on the edge of the shockwave from the Fall and the shock wave that created the Eye of Terror, Altansar was long thought to have been lost in the Eye of Terror along with the homeworlds of the Eldar. However, there were reports of its sighting and even active involvement in the recently conducted campaign between the Imperium and the Forces of Chaos near the Eye of Terror during the 13th Black Crusade, and doubt now exists as to its ultimate fate. Yet Altansar did, in fact, escape from the Warp with the help of the Phoenix Lord Maugan Ra, and that Eldar of other Craftworlds regard its inhabitants with deep suspicion due to their multi-millennial imprisonment in the Eye of Terror.
Altansar was one of the many Craftworlds that survived the Fall of the Eldar. 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.
Over 10,000 Terran years later, Abaddon the Despoiler emerged from the insane reality of the Eye of Terror, at the head of the 13th Black Crusade. The Chaotic Traitor Legions' intrusion into reality left a rift which bridged the material universe and the Immaterium. Through this opening Maugan Ra counter-invaded the Eye to find the remains of his people. Leaving a silvered trail of soulfire behind him, Maugan Ra eventually found the remains of his Craftworld. He found that the Eldar of Altansar had survived 10,000 years within the Eye. Maugan Ra guided the remnants of his Craftworld out of the Eye and against Abaddon's forces to deny him ultimate victory. However, there was no celebration or welcome from the other Craftworlds. Altansar is regarded with open suspicion and hostility, for how could any Eldar remain untouched by the predations of Chaos for ten thousand years? Altansar's traditional colours are a deep red and black and the Craftworld has reemerged into realspace in the Segmentum Solar.
The world-rune used by Craftworld Altansar is known as the "Broken Chain" -- not only in reference to the escape of Kurnous and Isha from the dungeons of Khaine, but also to the shattering of the links that bound Vaul to his anvil. The broken infinity loop above the world-rune has only been adopted by the craftworld since its narrow escape from an eternity of damnation within the Eye of Terror.
Il-Kaithe 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 traditional colours of Il-Kaithe are green detailed with purple trim. The world-rune of Il-Kaithe, known as the "Helm of Eldanesh", represents the all-seeing helm the Eldar hero Eldanesh received from Asuryan himself. The Lay of the House of Eldanesh describes how the Eldar hero defeated the gods and monsters alike with the prescience that it gave him, but in the end he fell prey to his own curiosity and foresaw his own bloody demise at the hands of Khaine. The Eldar of Il-Kaithe use the world-rune depicting the helm to remind themselves that knowledge can have a terrible cost.
Iybraesil is a largely matriarchal Craftworld society, fostering many Howling Banshees shrines and female Autarchs. As followers of the blind Eldar Crone Goddess of the Underworld, Morai-Heg, the Iybraesil Eldar constantly aspire to recover the hidden secrets of the Crone Worlds, the original homeworlds of the lost Eldar empire which now reside within the Eye of Terror. Dutiful and fierce, the gifted Seers of the craftworld labour long in their hunt for the hidden secrets of the Crone Worlds. They hope to secure not only the Tears of Isha, but also ancient technologies and doomsday artefacts that will allow them to tip the balance in the war for survival. The colours of Iybraesil are blue and white. The Iybraesil Craftworld can regularly be located within the Segmentum Pacificus. The world-rune of Iybraesil, known as "Wisdom of Pain" and also the "Hand of Heg", is a reference to the Eldar myth wherein Morai-Heg, the Crone, persuaded Khaine to sever her hand so that she could drink of the wisdom of her own blood. The Eldar of that Craftworld make frequent references to this act, claiming that no knowledge is truly claimed without sacrifice.
Kaelor is an extremely isolated Craftworld of the Eldar. Under unclear circumstances, at some point in the distant past, Kaelor made a Webway jump to the edge of the galaxy and has not ventured back towards the galactic centre for several millennia. It has virtually no contact with the outside galaxy, and even the Harlequins barely remember its existence. The Kaelor Craftworld is located in the Segmentum Obscurus in orbit of the Eye of Terror. Kaelor is known to pass through the Calixis Sector, a region normally avoided by the Eldar, every thousand Terran years. The colours of Kaelor are red and yellow.
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. What is known is that following a Webway jump, Kaelor found itself on a collision course with the Saim-Hann Craftworld. The ensuing conflict supposedly ended with a Kaelorian victory, but this is highly doubtful. All that is known is that Kaelor was virtually rent apart in the conflict and is now only held together through incredibly strong psychic bonds. During this time, one Kaelor Eldar, known only as Gwrih the Radiant, came to prominence. Gwrih united the Craftworld in an uneasy peace that has held for millennia; a single line, the Rivalin Dynasty, was chosen to permanently hold the position of Farseer of Kaelor. The other great families were effectively exiled from the Craftworld's capital city, the Sentrium, to the outer reaches of the Craftworld. The Exarchs of the Aspect Shrines are accorded far less stature on Kaelor than on other Craftworlds and they swore an oath to Gwrih that they would never intervene in the political struggles of the Kaelorian great houses. The tenuous peace that held was so long that it led to a dangerous level of unbounded indulgence and decadence among the population of the Sentrium. What would have been purged as a Chaos-influenced pleasure cult on other Craftworlds became accepted as "normal." The affluence of the Sentrium and the ever greater deprivation of the other great houses could only have one outcome, and events finally came to a head with the outbreak of the Kaelorian House Wars. During the House Wars the Aspect Shrines retained their customary neutrality, and thus the main opposing forces were the Guardian armies of Houses Ansgar and Teirtu. The struggle was long and bloody, but the final victory went to the Teirtu, and the head of House Ansgar was executed, though his heirs were spared. Following the House Wars House Teirtu, led by Iden Teirtu, emerged as the dominant political player on Kaelor, and House Ansgar was vanquished and exiled into the hinterlands of Kaelor. Iden Teirtu moved his house to the Sentrium and effectively held the Farseer under house arrest, as his son had sided with House Ansgar during the war.
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. The main colours of Lugganath are bright orange and black. The Luggnath Craftworld is last known to have been active in the western quadrant of the Segmentum Obscurus. In 801.M41 forces from Lugganath attacked the stronghold of the Steel Hearts and destroyed this Chapter of Renegade Chaos Space Marines in its entirety. Later in 805.M41 forces from Lugganath aided in stymieing a daemonic incursion on the world of Cathox Prime and also in suppressing an uprising by Chaos Cultists on the world of Cathox Gamma. Lugganath's name translates as "Light of Fallen Suns". Their world-rune, the "Black Sun", is a reference to the lost glory of the original Eldar star systems. It is said that if a viewer were to look far enough into the void he would be able to perceive the last light of those dead stars -- as close to a metaphor for hope as the Eldar of Lugganath ever use.
Mymeara was an ancient Eldar colony world that had escaped the Fall of the Eldar 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. The world-ship was completed just as the planet that had given it birth began to descend into wholesale bloodshed and slaughter. Only half of Mymeara's population was on board, having been deemed uncorrupted, when the Craftworld set sail into the interstellar void. 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. However, before long Mymeara had to fight for its very survival against the assault of countless Ork clans. Hundreds of thousands of Mymearan Eldar died in these wars, and the only hope for Mymeara's survival during this terrible time came from Irillyth, the Phoenix Lord of the Shadow Spectres Aspect Warriors, an Aspect Shrine that was native to Mymeara. Through Irillyth's wisdom the warriors of Mymeara learned how to combine the aspects of stealth, speed, and firepower to decimate their foes and soon set about clearing a safe path through the galaxy for their world-ship. Irillyth's presence upon the Craftworld was short-lived, and the Phoenix Lord left to fight the forces of the fledgling Imperium of Man when he was certain Mymeara had been spared destruction at the hands of the rampaging Greenskins. Mymeara then found a region of space that had not yet been infested by the other intelligent races of the galaxy, and using their advanced holographic technology hid themselves away from all contact with outsiders. 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 Irillyth's final resting place upon the Imperial Ice World of Betalis III.
Betalis III was the site of the Betalis III Campaign fought in 894.M41 between the forces of the Imperium defending the system and the Eldar of Craftworld Mymeara who sought to recover Iryllith's armour and the spirit of the Phoenix Lord within. An alliance of Eldar forces from the Craftworlds of Mymeara and Alaitoc as well as Eldar Corsairs from the Void Dragons, Sky Raiders, and Sunblitz Brotherhood, descended on the frigid world to recover their beloved Phoenix Lord's armour before it was discovered and defiled by the human miners present on Betalis III. In this way, the Mymearans hoped that Irillyth might be restored to fight once more for his people, since his spirit would have remained intact within his armour's Spirit Stone. Betalis III was reinforced by Imperial Guard regiments drawn from the Cadian Shock Troops and the Elysian Drop Troops as well as Titans from the Legio Gryphonicus and Space Wolves Space Marines. After the Imperial forces fought the Eldar to a bloody standstill, the mysterious xenos vanished as quickly as they had arrived, presumably after they had recovered Irillyth.
The world-rune of Mymeara, known as the "Cursing Eye", is a reference to the omniscient abilities of Asuryan, said to be able to perceive and to kill in the same instant. Asuryan's pitiless extermination of the brutal Yygghs epitomises the cull of a lesser race in its comparative infancy, eradicating it before it could grow to endanger the noble Eldar race in any way.
The Eldar of the Yme-Loc Craftworld are talented artisans, boasting many weapon-smiths 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. Yme-Loc's Guardians wear grey armor with red helmets and shoulder armour plates. Their mighty Wraithlords and other vehicles are often coloured grey with red details. Yme-Loc is considered only a minor Craftworld located in the Segmentum Obscurus and is not very well known throughout the galaxy. The world-rune of Yme-Loc is known as the "Crucible of Souls". Eldar legends tells of the Crucible of Souls, within which the smith-god forged weapons of purest wraithsteel were alloyed with the spirits of the virtuous in order to wage the War in Heaven. It was in this crucible that the ninety-nine-and-one Swords of Vaul were created. Yme-Loc uses the symbol of the Crucible of Souls as its world-rune, claiming that the Eldar's fate is theirs to forge.
Other Minor Craftworlds
- An-Iolsus - The Craftworld of An-Iolsus forged a rare alliance with the Imperium of Man during the Gothic War of the early 41st Millennium to defeat the Forces of Chaos
- Cairas Mythar
- Ctho - Ctho is the "the legendary lost Craftworld"
- Dolthe - Warriors of the Dire Avengers from the Dolthe Craftworld fought to defend and close a Webway portal on the contested world of Monthax. They were later joined by the Volpone 50th and the Tanith 1st Regiments of the Imperial Guard.
- Dorhai - Dorhai does not deal with other Craftworlds, believing themselves to be the only untainted survivors of the Fall of the Eldar
- Il'sariadh - In 116.M38, when this Craftworld was visited by a large troupe of Eldar Harlequins, during their performance, the Solitaire was none other than the trickster Tzeentch daemon known as the Changeling. Killing the player who portrayed the Great Harlequin, he summons the Slaaneshi daemon The Masque of Slaanesh, who in turn, opens a portal that allows her daemon brethren to pour through. Il'sariadh effectively has its heart torn out with the loss of their brightest and best.
- Meros - Meros is remembered as "the doomed Craftworld".
- Miandrothe - Miandrothe is a minor Eldar Craftworld that haunts the Askellon Sector, striking without warning and leaving no trace. While the Askellian authorities know all too well of the Eldar Corsairs that plague shipping and outposts across the sector, the presence of a mighty Craftworld within Askellon’s bounds remains unknown to the Imperium.
- Miel Carn
- Mór-ríoh'ï - During the war in the Shedim Drifts, Imperial forces fought the Eldar in a mighty clash upon the arid world of Anark Zeta between the forces of the marauding Craftworld of Mór-ríoh'ï and the Great Crusade.
- Telennar - Telennar is a minor Eldar Craftworld. Cordial relations between Alaitoc and Telennar have often brought the two Craftworlds together to battle against the Forces of Chaos, most recently during the Fall of Medusa V in 999.M41. Telennar is also known for going to war alongside the Harlequins of the Masque of the Twisted Path. It's well documented that the Twisted Path have an affinity with the Eldar of Telennar, for while the masque has been known to spirit victims, whether they be friend or foe, away into the Webway (never to be seen again), this never happens on Telennar -- some say it is because the souls on that Craftworld are too dark. Telennar's colours are bright orange and sable. The meaning of their world-rune is unknown.
- Zandros - Home to the Slicing Orbs, an Eldar Aspect Warrior shrine unique to this Craftworld.
Since the Fall of the Eldar some Craftworlds have been destroyed. These include:
- Idharae - Idharae was destroyed in an all-out siege launched by the Invaders Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes and the Legion of the Damned; its surviving population fled to Alaitoc, which earned revenge against the Invaders by destroying their homeworld of Ogrys in 895.M41, forcing them to become a Fleet-based Chapter.
- Ila-Manesh - In 326.M33, a huge warband of the Night Lords descended from the darkness of the Warp on a mission of revenge. Their aim was simply to eradicate the Craftworld's spirit stones, many of which had previously been stolen from the Crone World of Aesyl-Sar. While delivering justice for this past Eldar sin, the Night Lords unleashed several Defilers. One of these, Ghostcrusher, stood out as a particularly savage machine beast. The Daemon Engine spearheaded a Night Lords assault upon the Shrine of Eldanesh, incinerating ancient tomes, crushing sacred totems, destroying spirit stones and burning the Guardians who attempted to prevent the desecration. So thorough were the Night Lords in their assault on Ila-Manesh that they left the Craftworld a tomb, with no artifacts and no living Eldar remaining.
- Lu'Nasad - Lu'Nasad was destroyed after fleeing from their civilisation's destruction during the Fall of the Eldar. The scholars, Farseers and Warlocks of Lu'Nasad had spent centuries studying and discovering lost paths within the Webway which led through the Empyrean that no living being had walked since time out of mind. As fate would have it, the dark, twisting, and largely unknown paths taken by Lu'Nasad took her not to salvation, but directly into the seething heart of the Rifts of Hecaton, located in the Koronus Expanse. There in the midst of these damned and forgotten stars, Lu'Nasad came face to face with powerful forces of the Empyrean that were manifesting in realspace. A desperate and largely futile battle ensued as Lu'Nasad's defenders were overwhelmed by the Forces of Chaos, and in short order the Craftworld fell silent and drifted further into the Rifts, her only survivors the powerful Farseer Anaris and the crew of his ship. Bathed in the energies of the Warp and infused with the taint of Chaos, Lu'Nasad became a twisted, ugly parody of herself.
- Malan'tai - Malan'tai was a minor Craftworld of the Eldar. It was destroyed in 812.M41 by a splinter of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Naga and was the location of the first known encounter of the potent Tyranid Zoanthrope later called the Doom of Malan'tai by the Eldar. The derelict Craftworld became nothing more than a drifting, lifeless husk floating through the void. In 994.M41, Craftworld Iyanden came to Malan'tai to see if they could find anything of use to help with repairs of their home after their recent battle with Hive Fleet Kraken, but instead, they found the abandoned Craftworld swarming with vile Orks. When the Eldar finally regained control of Malan'tai, they discovered that the Orks have stolen or destroyed anything of use. With heavy hearts, they altered the Craftworld's course towards the nearest sun and headed home.
- Mor'rioh'i - Destroyed by the military forces of the burgeoning Imperium of Man during the Great Crusade.
- Muirgaythh - Destroyed by the daemonic forces of Slaanesh.
- Thuyela - Thuyela was destroyed by the Tenth Company of the Space Wolves Legion during the Great Crusade.
- Codex: Craftworld Eldar (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (6th Edition), pg. 21
- Codex: Eldar (6th Edition), pp. 14-17
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition)
- Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition)
- Codex Imperialis (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), pp. 17, 58
- Dark Heresy: The Enemies Without (2nd Edition) (RPG), pp. 105-106, 108, 110-111, 122, 127
- Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymeara, pg. 129
- Iyanden - A Codex: Eldar Supplement (6th Edition)
- Rogue Trader: Fallen Suns (RPG), pp. 4, 7-12
- The Citadel Journal #3, pg. 42
- The Citadel Journal #46, pg. 32
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre by Alan Bligh, pg. 157
- White Dwarf 147 (US), "Space Marine: Avatar & War Walker - Eldar Craftworlds," pp. 12-14
- The Beast Arises (Novel Series):
- Predator, Prey (Novel) by Rob Sanders
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Prospero Burns (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Aurelian (Novella) by Aaron Demski-Bowden
- Path of the Warrior (Novel) by Gav Thorpe, pp. 329-409
- Path of the Seer (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Eldar Prophecy (Novel) by C.S. Goto
- Farseer (Novel) by William King
- Howl of the Banshee (Ebook)
- Warhammer 40,000: Index Chaotica - Defilers
|General||Dead World • Death World • Desert World • Ice World • Jungle World • Ocean World •|
|Imperium||Adeptus Astartes Homeworld • Agri-World • Cardinal World • Cemetery World • Civilised World • Feral World • Feudal World • Forbidden World • Forge World • Fortress World • Hive World • Industrial World • Knight World • Mining World • Paradise World • Penal World • Research Station • Shrine World|
|Xenos||Craftworld • Crone World • Exodite World • Maiden World • Ork World • Tau Empire • Tomb World • Xenos World|