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"The young do not desire the discipline of the Path, but rather their curiosity drives them to try every fruit from the tree. Thus it is that so many take the Path of Wandering or the Path of Damnation in their first years of adulthood, and so the great tragedy of our kind is played out again and again as the number of our people shrink from generation to generation."
— Kysaduras the Anchorite, "Introspections Upon Perfection"
N.Roberts Eldar

An Eldar Ranger

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.

However, there are some among their number who cannot stand such practices either because they are unable to focus on one Path at a time, are afflicted with wanderlust, or they simply dislike the restrictions the Craftworld and the sometimes rigid Eldar society places on them. These Eldar then choose or are forced by their fellow Craftworld denizens to walk the "Path of the Outcast", an Eldar wanderer who is equipped to live off the land and to explore far and wide from the Craftworld. These solitary Eldar are the Rangers. 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.

The Rangers' preternatural skill at finding the eye socket, neck joint or any other weak point on even the most heavily armoured enemy troops is legendary even among a species as keen-eyed as the Eldar. 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.

Pathfinders

Rangers Stalking

Eldar Rangers stalking an Imperial Guard regiment of Catachan Jungle Fighters

Pathfinders are the most experienced and skilled of the Eldar Rangers who have successfully walked the Path of the Outcast for many Terran centuries. They have overcome their temptations to engage in the types of hedonistic excesses and savage behaviours that cause the Eldar's souls to be devoured by Slaanesh, yet they still feel compelled to walk the Path of the Outcast. Pathfinders are even more skilled at infiltration and survival in hostile environments than standard Rangers. While Pathfinders can be found across the Milky Way Galaxy, calling every Eldar Craftworld their homes, by far the most skilled or most notable Pathfinders come from the Craftworld of Alaitoc. Alaitoc society is more rigidly organized around the pursuit of the Eldar Life Paths than many others and so many of the young Eldar of Alaitoc are more prone to rebel against this disciplined lifestyle and to seek adventure as Outcasts. More Eldar from Alaitoc pursue the Path of the Outcast than from any other Eldar Craftworld.

Pathfinders have become adept over the centuries at roving ahead of the main Eldar warhosts, using their expertise in guerilla tactics to sabotage their enemies' forces or damage their chain of command before battle has even been joined. Bypassing sentries, sabotaging machinery, destroying supply dumps and even the mysterious assassinations of important commanders all ultimately take their toll upon both the enemy's numbers and their morale, leaving them jittery and uncoordinated as they vainly try to restore their units' cohesion and momentum, allowing the more mobile Eldar forces to strike at their newly revealed weak points with the grace and efficiency that have always been the Eldar's trademark in warfare.

Wargear

Ranger Long Rifle

Eldar Ranger Long Rifle

  • Ranger Long Rifle - The favoured weapon of the Eldar Ranger is the Ranger Long Rifle, a long–barrelled sniper weapon not dissimilar to the Long Las sniper weapon used by Imperial Guard snipers. Whereas the Long Las is an upgrade to the humble Lasgun, the Ranger Long Rifle is a more advanced las–weapon entirely, seemingly custom grown for the user, tailored perfectly to their eyesight and grip. Whereas the artificial crystals used in Imperial las–technology struggles to maintain a focused beam over long distances, the psychically-grown crystals used by the Eldar are able to focus a tight beam over a much greater distance, allowing a skilled user to punch through weak points in armour at great distances.
  • Shuriken Pistol - These guns are graceful dealers of death that use sophisticated anti-gravity accelerators to hurl volleys of miniature razor disks that literally slice their victims apart in seconds.

Sources

  • Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), p. 38
  • Codex: Eldar (3rd Edition)
  • Path of the Warrior (Novel) by Gavin Thorpe
  • Warhammer 40,000: Munitorum - Ranger Long Rifles (Digital Edition)

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