The Exodites are those members of the Eldar race that rejected the slow degeneration of their ancient civilisation before the Fall of the Eldar and exiled themselves from the core homeworlds of the star-spanning Eldar empire for newly-terraformed colony planets called Maiden Worlds. On their new homes, these so-called "Exodites" could isolate themselves from the Eldar's corruption and violent hedonism -- and survive the cataclysm that would soon consume their people.
The Exodites are those Eldar who, millennia before the Fall of the Eldar, predicted the coming of the Great Enemy, She Who Thirsts, Slaanesh, born of the decadence of the Eldar. Some, the more far-sighted, noticed the growing decadence of Eldar society. These few "dissidents" from the dark path the Eldar were beginning to trod openly criticised the lax morals of their fellow citizens of the Eldar homeworlds, warning them against the hedonistic effects of the growing pleasure cults. These people were mostly ignored by the mainstream of Eldar civilisation, and were often seen as deluded puritans at best, their cries for restraint completely ignored. Soon the general collapse of Eldar society into hedonistic excess convinced even the most resolute amongst these dissidents that their species was racing towards an inevitable disaster. Fearing this impending doom, some Eldar decided to leave their homeworlds behind and settle new colony planets so recently terraformed that they were completely free of the creeping corruption. These Eldar, like their counterparts of the Craftworlds, remained untainted by the all-consuming corruption of what later generations of the Eldar would call the Path of Damnation, though by the time they left the Eldar homeworlds behind, they represented a tiny fraction of the Eldar population.
These dissident Eldar became known as the Exodites; there were uniquely far-sighted and pragmatic members of their race. They were reviled by their fellow Eldar as dour fanatics obsessed with misery and self-denial. Some were actually insane -- their dire premonitions haunting their dreams, most likely an effect of the psychic abilities that all Eldar were blessed to possess. Others were genuine survivalists who chose exile over degradation and destruction. The Exodites abandoned their homes and began their exodus in an assortment of different Eldar spacecraft. Many died in open space during the course of their journeys. Some reached new worlds only to be slain by marauding Orks or their chosen colony planet's natural predators. But many more persevered and survived, heading into the galactic east, as far from the Eldar empire's core worlds as they could reach.
The Exodites made new homes upon worlds on the fringes of the Milky Way Galaxy beginning as early as the 26th Millennium. These savage worlds were harsh and life was brutal for a people unused to any forms of physical work and self-denial. When the final cataclysm of the Fall erupted in the 30th Millennium and the psychic birth pangs of Slaanesh consumed the Eldar homeworlds, most of the Exodite worlds were far from the psychic epicentre and survived. Out on the fringes of the galaxy the Exodites were safe, as the resultant psychic implosion wiped out the rest of the Eldar race, leaving the yawning hole in the fabric of space that became the Warp rift known as the Eye of Terror. Many Eldar Craftworlds rode out the psychic shock wave and survived, but the Exodites had already reached places of safety -- or else they perished, their souls consumed by She Who Thirsts along with the rest of their race.
Since they first settled their new homes, the Exodite homeworlds have not changed a great deal. These Eldar live a more primitive and austere life than the Craftworld Eldar or even their surviving corrupted kin who lived in the Webway before the Fall, the Dark Eldar. The Exodites have learned how to cultivate crops and harvest other natural resources. Exodite societies are more rigorous and physical than those of the Craftworlds, which still make use of the Eldar's advanced technology to maintain their labour-free existences. Where the Craftworld Eldar cling to the past of their race and preserve all they can of their fallen civilisation, the Exodites have turned their backs upon ancient tradition in favour of a simpler and harder way of life. Their psychic defences are tougher and more straightforward but not as subtle and thus ultimately less powerful than those of their Craftworld cousins. They have survived, and of all the Eldar they seem the most likely to continue to do so.
The Craftworld Eldar regard the Exodites as rustic and rather simple folk -- vigorous and wild compared to their own introverted and often hermetically sealed societies. The system known as the Eldar Paths do not determine the way of life for the Exodite Eldar as they do for those of the Craftworlds. The Exodites are wild and individualistic and are more independently-minded and adventurous. They survive in this austere fashion because of their extreme distance from the Eye of Terror, which still acts as a psychic focus for the destructive influence of the Eldar's most hated enemy, Slaanesh. Though this alone does not protect them from the Chaos God's desire to consume all Eldar souls, it is a significant factor in the Exodites' survival.
The worlds of the Exodites are savage and untamed. Their few meagre settlements coexist with wild beasts of all kinds. The Exodite settlements are too few and scattered to disrupt the delicate balance of nature. Many are only occupied for a few months of the year, because on many worlds the Exodites are nomadic, moving with the seasons and the herds. They time their migrations according to when they must collect and plant their crops, remaining only long enough to collect what they previously planted in the spring and staying until it is time to plant the following year's crop and move on.
The wild creatures that inhabit these worlds are many and varied. Most of the Exodite worlds are home to large herds of Megadons and other gigantic reptilian beasts, which the Exodites refer to as "dragons." These creatures are not native to the region, as the early Eldar settlers intentionally spread them throughout all their worlds so that they are now quite common. The Exodites follow these herds as they graze, carefully managing them for their survival. They eat their flesh and even drink their blood, and utilise their skins to make clothing and leather. They even make use of the bones and horns, which act as a part-substitute for the psycho-plastic substances like Wraithbone used by the Craftworld Eldar.
There are many different kinds of dragons, some unique to specific worlds, and they are used in different ways according to their size and nature. The Megadons are massive herbivores, slow-witted and easy to manage, although deadly if panicked or mistreated. These creatures provide most of the material resources used by the Exodites. Smaller ones are used to transport cargo and people across the great plains of their worlds. A large Megadon can even carry a massive structure on its back, and they bear the most enormous weights without concern. The smaller, carnivorous dragons ridden by the Exodite warriors are used to herd and control the herbivorous Megadons. These warriors are practically born into the tall dragon saddles -- as they are consummate riders, wielding their long lances with ease. A stab with one of their lances will turn or stop a Megadon without causing it any harm, but the same blow would knock the most hardy Eldar to the ground dead. Warriors are an integral part of Exodite societies. They play an important role as protectors of each community as well as acting to safeguard their valuable beasts from predators.
The psycho-plastics like Wraithbone that is the cornerstone of Eldar technology are rare and precious on these remote planets so the Exodites utilise other substances and rely upon simpler methods of doing things and physical labour that is all but unknown to the Eldar of the Craftworlds. Although this lifestyle is in many respects a primitive one, the Exodites still possess many advanced technologies and are familiar with all the sophisticated materials used on the Craftworlds. It is by choice that they live as they do, and their way of life has proven every bit as successful as that of the other Eldar.
Every Exodite homeworld has its own equivalent to the Craftworlds' Infinity Circuit which they refer to as the World Spirit. This immense store of psychic energy is where the minds of the dead Exodites are preserved forever after their passing from the physical world. Like their Craftworld kin, the Exodites also wear Spirit Stones, and when they die they are taken beneath the earth into one of their great tribal barrows. There, they are laid to rest; their Spirit Stones broken upon the altars of the World Spirit so their souls can become a part of that potent psychic collective.
This complex psychic energy grid extends over the entire planet, stretching between the tribal barrows, stone circles and standing stones. The Spirit World (the Warp) and the Material World (realspace) can interact at these special places; the spirits of the dead flowing together as one network of pure psychic energy, a vortex of power where the living can talk to the dead if they possess the psychic ability to interact with the World Spirit. The stone circles and standing stones scattered all across Exodite worlds are made from psychically interactive crystal. These towering stones are essentially gigantic Spirit Stones that anchor the World Spirit's psychic power into the earth. The links between these stones form a part of the Eldar Webway, but the paths from the Webway into the different World Spirits are well-hidden and closely guarded. This enables Eldar to move between the Craftworlds and the Exodite Maiden Worlds by means of the Webway, with interlinking paths over the Exodite worlds themselves. Because their worlds are home to their departed spirits and shelter them from the predations of Chaos, the Exodites will fight very fiercely to protect their worlds. To abandon a world is akin to abandoning the souls of their ancestors to the Warp and She Who Thirsts, for without constant replenishment the World Spirits diminish slowly and become vulnerable.
While individual Exodite societies vary, across worlds as well as between them, common to almost all of those known is a social structure based around small, independent tribal communities. The reasons for this are unclear; it is a commonly-held belief amongst the scholars of the Imperium of Man that tribalism is the natural state of the Eldar (evidenced by what little information is known to the Imperium of the Dark Eldar). The life of the Exodites is thought by these thinkers to bear the closest resemblance to the Eldar societies of their lost interstellar empire before the Fall began. Exodite society is a tribal one. Each tribe owes allegiance to a local ruling tribe which in turn owes fealty to the planet's king and his royal tribe. Despite the claims of Imperial scholars, this tribal social structure more than likely developed out of necessity, as small, scattered communities were the most efficient way to utilise the sparse natural resources of the newly settled Maiden Worlds. As there are relatively few Eldar on these worlds there are also few territorial disputes. Open wars between tribes are rare but skirmishes between rival young Dragon Knights are common. Although not openly warlike, the Exodites are a robust, self-confident people and still possess the legendary pride -- some would call it arrogance -- of the Eldar race.
Dragon Knights frequently try to steal away a rival's beasts or may attempt to move their herds over the grazing areas of other tribes. Such matters are seen as part of a Dragon Knight's training, and the dangers of death or serious injury are an accepted part of a young warrior's life. These raids and occasional deaths do not embitter the tribes, and it is notable that no matter how hard-fought their disputes might be, no Eldar would despoil or steal the crops of a rival tribe even though these lie unprotected for months at a time.
The Exodite societies are a common destination for Eldar Outcasts since they are less hostile to outsiders and those who forsake the Eldar Paths than the Craftworld Eldar. Often these rogue Eldar seek the patronage of one of the Exodite tribes. In return, they fight alongside the tribe's warriors and, for a while at least, enjoy the freedom of mind which is often impossible to find on the Craftworlds. To the Exodites, the Outcasts are strange romantic figures, the masters of a hidden lore and way of life which is arcane and archaic. They bring skills which the Exodites value highly, and so are always made welcome at the courts of the tribal Eldar.
- Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition), pp. 16-17, 30, 76
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pp. 4, 7, 11, 14-15