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.
Following the Fall of the Eldar, Asurmen, the first Phoenix Lord, was the Eldar who led the Craftworlds away from the ancient Eldar homeworlds at the time of the Fall and it was he who founded the first of the Aspect Shrines, the Shrine of Asur, upon the world of the same name. There Asurmen taught the Exarchs who would go on to found their own Aspect Shrines and become the first group of Phoenix Lords, masters of specialised combat disciplines that they would pass on to all Eldar willing to pursue the Path of the Warrior.
Baharroth, whose name means "The Cry of the Wind" in the Eldar Lexicon, is the founder and Phoenix Lord of the Eldar Swooping Hawks Aspect Shrine. It is said that he learned the arts of war from Asurmen himself, at the first and greatest Shrine of Asur, when the Fall was still a living memory in the minds of his people. Like all the Phoenix Lords, Baharroth is fated to die at the Rhana Dandra, the Final Battle of the Eldar race. The Swooping Hawks take their name from the wild hunting birds of Eldar Mythology, which are synonymous with vengeance and retribution. In ancient times, the Eldar believed that the spirit of a murdered Eldar would pass into a hawk and hover above the killer as a mark of guilt. The winged Aspect Warriors who take that hawk as their symbol, however, play a much more active role in their foe's destruction.
The Swooping Hawks are among the most mobile of the Eldar Aspect Warriors as a result of their Swooping Hawk Wings, which allow them to lift off into the air at a moment's notice and fly across the battlefield. Their wings are made from vibrating feather plates and incorporate small gravitic lifters. When the Hawks fly, these wings vibrate with such speed they turn into a blur of colour. The speed and agility that this technology provides the Swooping Hawks more than makes up for the fact that their Aspect Armour, compared to that worn by the warriors of the other Aspects, is less thick as a result of their need to keep their weight low and therefore offers less protection from enemy fire. Swooping Hawk Aspect Armour is typically coloured like the sky, a pale shade of blue or grey, with contrasting colours as well, especially on the wings.
A Swooping Hawk squad can number anywhere from five to ten warriors, including sometimes an Exarch to lead them. The ritual weapon of the Swooping Hawks is the Lasblaster, a far more efficient energy weapon than the similar Lasgun employed by the Imperium, and the Swooping Hawk Grenade Pack, two weapons especially suited to their role as highly mobile harassing elements operating ahead of the main Eldar host. The Grenade Pack in particular can carry a wide variety of fragmentation, armour-piercing and plasma-based grenades, including electromagnetic Haywire Grenades that are lobbed at the ground to disable enemy vehicles. Flying over their enemies' heads, the Swooping Hawks rain down explosive death before closing in to press the assault or falling back to cover to use their laser weapons. Though they lack the sheer power of some other temples, the Swooping Hawks' use of harassing attack from above makes them terrible foes.
Notable Swooping Hawks ShrinesEdit
- The Ashen Sky Shrine - The Ashen Sky make use of enhanced optics, the better to pierce the battlefield pall from which they prefer to launch their assaults. It is no coincidence, then, that their armour is dark in colouration -- a symbolic reference to the tortured skies in which they do battle.
- The Shimmering Horizon Shrine - To the Swooping Hawks of the Shimmering Horizon, direction of attack is crucial. Aiming always to have the sun at their backs when they dive from the skies, these Aspect Warriors strike like the Hawk of their Aspect's namesake, disengaging their dazzled target before it can return fire.
Swooping Hawks ExarchsEdit
Every Aspect Shrine of the Eldar is led by an Exarch, an Eldar who has been called permanently to the Path of the Warrior. An Exarch has travelled so far down that Path that they can no longer leave it and so dedicates themself fully as a high priest of Khaine in service to the Aspect of the War God that they represent. Exarchs wear more elaborate and ornate versions of Aspect Armour which incorporates the spirits of their past wearers, granting an Exarch not only wisdom and knowledge stretching across the millennia but a raw pool of potent psychic energy that can be used in combat.
This permanent acceptance of the Eldar's "war mask" provides Exarchs with enhanced skill and dedication to their craft and entitles them to access their Shrine's oldest and most advanced wargear. The Exarchs' secret knowledge and supernatural abilities allow them to enhance the abilities of the Swooping Hawks squads they lead. Under the guidance of their Exarch, a Swooping Hawks squad can deliver devastating lightning fast fly-by attacks, careening past their foe with devastating blasts from their Lasblasters and then raining grenades down upon them. Swooping Hawk Exarchs often have special skills that they teach to their squads, such as performing skyleaps from battle where the Swooping Hawks launch high into the sky with a great shout before swiftly returning and deploying into a new position, and skills in aerial combat such as disabling enemy skimmers at high speed with their Haywire Grenades. Swooping Hawks Exarchs employs a much more powerful version of the Lasblaster wielded by his squad that is known as the Hawk's Talon. They are also known for employing a potent energy weapon known as a Sunrifle, which is powerful enough to slay whole squads with a burst of dazzling laser beams. Sometimes, those Swooping Hawks Exarchs who favour melee combat will also make use of a Power Weapon.
The Phoenix Lord of the Swooping Hawks is Baharroth, the "Cry of the Wind." He is believed to have been the finest pupil of Asurmen, the first Eldar Phoenix Lord. He is the Winged Phoenix, the oldest of the Swooping Hawks and the first of the winged Exarchs. Baharroth was the founder of the Eldar Warrior Path that is represented today by Swooping Hawk Aspect Shrines throughout the Eldar Craftworlds. It is said that he learned the arts of war from Asurmen himself, at the first and greatest Shrine of Asur, when the Fall of the Eldar was still a living memory in the minds of his people. Like all the Phoenix Lords, Baharroth has been reborn many times in the body of a new Exarch. Innumerable battlefields have felt his anger and countless foes have fallen before his might. Baharroth is also known for his speed and is said to be the fastest of all the Eldar who have ever lived, a claim that would make him formidable indeed. He is a great friend of his fellow Phoenix Lord, Maugan Ra.
Swooping Hawks WargearEdit
- Aspect Armour - Like other Eldar Aspects, Swooping Hawks wear lightweight synthetic bodysuits, reinforced with plates of psycho-sensitive bioplastics that will instantly harden to resist impacts. These plates can morph their shape in accordance with the wearer's movements, meaning the armour does not encumber the wearer in the slightest, affording excellent protection without detracting from the Eldar warrior's unparalleled mobility. The Swooping Hawks wear cunningly constructed wings made up of vibrating feather plates that incorporate small anti-gravitic emitters. When the Swooping Hawks take to the air, these wings vibrate with such speed they turn into a blur of colour. The Swooping Hawks' armour is often coloured blue or grey to reflect the background colour of the sky. Their wings are coloured in brilliant, vibrant shades which create dazzling polychromatic patterns when in flight. Because the Swooping Hawks have to be concerned about maintaining their maneuverability in flight, their Aspect Armour is lighter and thinner than that of other Aspect Warriors. This means they have less protection from weapon impacts or melee blows than their fellows, but their increased speed and maneuverability normally more than makes up for this lack. The reinforced breastplate of the Aspect Warrior's armour bears his Spirit Stone, a precious item for all Eldar. This psycho-receptive gem is attuned to the individual so that at the moment of death, when the Eldar's psychic spirit is released, it is captured instead within the stone. Otherwise it is believed by the Eldar that the spirit would be released into the Warp, where the Chaos God Slaanesh, "She Who Thirsts," awaits to consume it. Contrary to popular belief, the small domes and blisters on the Swooping Hawks Aspect Armour are not extra gems, but small compartments that contain the suit's technical systems. A tabard or various pennants are a common addition to the Swooping Hawks' Aspect Armour. Its runic inscriptions name the shrine for which the Aspect Warrior is fighting and identifies the particular Craftworld to which the warrior owes his or her allegiance.
- Aspect Helmet - Each Warrior Aspect has its own distinctive helmet, and within each shrine the helmet may vary in form slightly, with correspondingly more elaborate versions for the shrine's Exarchs. For a standard Swooping Hawk, the helmet is distinctively tall and swept back, allowing for better aerodynamics. By custom, it is this helmet that marks the Aspect Warriors as the protectors and avengers of their Craftworld. It bears the Swooping Hawks Aspect's rune traced upon its forehead.
- Swooping Hawk Wings - Swooping Hawk Wings are specialised Eldar Jump Packs used exclusively by the Swooping Hawk Aspect Warriors. Composed of vibrating feather plates, these wings combine an anti-gravitic lifting field emitter with jet propulsion motors to provide the Swooping Hawks with their impressive flight speed and maneuverability. In addition, the large wings allow the user to glide for long distances, and provides added lift for an increased flight ceiling, while the vibrating feathers emit a distinctive shrieking sound. Because they are often coloured in vibrant shades of colour, the wings also create an impressive multi-colour pattern for the warrior while in flight.
- Lasblaster - The primary ritual weapons of this Aspect are the Lasblaster, a far more efficient energy weapon than the clumsy Lasgun of the Imperium.
- Cloudsweeper (Optional) - The Cloudsweeper is a variant Lasblaster that fires in three-round-bursts , unlike the traditional single shot Lasblaster. It sacrifices a modicum of accuracy for rate of fire. Those Swooping Hawks who use Cloudsweepers like to strike from high above their targets, placing themselves in minimal danger of actually being shot at. From time to time they may find their wings "clipped," so to speak, and they're forced into close combat.
- Swooping Hawks Grenade Pack - The Swooping Hawks Grenade Pack is used in conjunction with the Lasblaster. Grenade packs contain both anti-personnel grenades and Plasma Grenades for fly-by attacks and Haywire Grenades for disabling enemy artillery.
- Haywire Grenades - Swooping Hawks make use of Haywire Grenades for disabling enemy vehicles. They send out a powerful, short-range electromagnetic pulse that shorts out electrical wiring and disrupts the energy systems of the target.
- Sunrifle - The Sunrifle is only wielded by Swooping Hawk Exarchs, and are energy weapons potent enough to slay whole squads with a burst of dazzling laser beams. They are similar to Lasblasters, but have a far higher rate of fire.
- Hawk's Talon - A Hawk's Talon is a much more powerful version of a Lasblaster with more stopping power per shot. They are only used by Swooping Hawk Exarchs.
- Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition), pp. 23, 36, 41
- Codex: Eldar (3rd Edition), pp. 14, 40
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pp. 35, 65
- Codex: Eldar (6th Edition), pg. 35
- Rogue Trader: The Koronus Bestiary (RPG), pg. 54
- White Dwarf 173 (US), "Eldar Phoenix Lords", pp. 6-9
- White Dwarf 127 (US), "Eldar" by Rick Priestley, Jes Goodwin, William King & Lindsey D. Le Doux Paton, pp. 13-52
- Warhammer 40,000 - Eternal Crusade - Rogue Trader Store: Cloudsweeper Swooping Hawk Lasblaster
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