"You are so brave and quiet I forget you are suffering."
- – Ernest Hemingway
"Be empty, still, idle, and from your place of darkness observe the defects of others. See, but do not appear to see; listen, but do not appear to listen; know, but do not let it be known that you know."
- – Han Fei
"It is a fate they justly deserve. In truth, there can be no escape from the doom they have brought upon themselves."
- – White Dwarf, February 2017
- 1 History
- 2 Eldar Corsairs
- 3 Chaos Eldar
- 4 The Black Library
- 5 Eldar-Human Hybrids
- 6 How alien is alien?
- 7 Skub Time!
- 8 Current Events
- 9 Rebirth of a Pantheon
- 10 Relationship with the Imperium of Man
- 11 Play Style
- 12 Lameness, Courtesy of Games Workshop
- 13 Notable Eldar Characters
- 14 Notable Craftworlds
- 15 Notable Former Craftworlds
- 16 See Also
- 17 Gallery
- 18 Navigation
The Eldar (now spelled Aeldari in the Tome of the Retconian, AKA Trademarcus Friendlius Renamian or Aeldarix dolosus for you xenobiologists out there describing the Asuryani AKA vanilla Eldar) are one of the playable armies in Warhammer 40,000. They are essentially elves ported directly from Tolkien into space, pointy ears and all. The very word 'Elda' means "of the [light of the] stars" in his Quenya, which word Oromë himself applied to them; 'Eldar' being its plural.
(Fa/tg/uys sometimes call them 'Elfdar'. Retarded fa/tg/uys. Seriously, pick up a book someday that is not manga.)
They are one of the oldest races in the galaxy and have very advanced technology (being psychic-based their tech actually resembles literal techno-sorcery more than any technology humanity would be familiar with) and highly developed psychic abilities, but ages of warfare and strife, and in particular one extremely devastating and painfully avoidable strife, have reduced their population from the galaxy-spanning empires of the past, referred to as "The Empire of Ten Million Suns," to the few surviving Craftworlds, Maiden Worlds, and Exodite Worlds still present in the 41st millennium. The Ynnari have already brought back many dead Aeldari, but we have yet to see how much these ghost elves have boosted their numbers.
In the 40k game, the Eldar army is comprised of specialized units that excel at a particular task, as opposed to more general all-rounders like the Space Marine tactical squads. Their vehicles are almost all skimmers too, with the exception of War Walkers. The Eldar also have a few special tricks up their mystical elfy sleeves, like Webway travel and wraith-constructs, which are wraithbone suits that are controlled by the souls of dead Eldar. It's like a Space Marine Dreadnought in purpose, only the Dreadnought pilot is merely a cripple while the wraith-construct's 'pilot' is a straight-up ghost. The Avatar of Khaine, one of the Eldar's most powerful units, is a giant monster made of lava that used to be the penis of a war-god, and is infamous for spelling near certain defeat for whoever's side it is on the moment it is summoned.
In spite of their fall from being a colossal empire that ruled the stars and heavens alike when Mankind was still poking things with sticks and roasting dead animals over fires in caves to their current state (a dying, elegiac race slowly being whittled down to extinction by combat losses and the hunger of Slaanesh), their utter disdain for every single bit of non-Eldarin life remains completely unchanged. The race as a whole has a superiority complex that would put Failbaddon to shame. They often try to act indirectly, subtly manipulating events to resolve in their favor, but they seem to rarely ever succeed. Even on the rare occasions when they win, GW will eventually, somewhere down the road turn it around into a crushing defeat, just for lulz. Best of all, their ruined plans are usually caused by their own arrogance. They cannot comprehend that non-Eldar have their own minds and agendas. So, when their puppets simply do something more beneficial to themselves than the Eldar (or figure out the spelves’ plan and purposely co-opt or smash it), the elves are left in total shock. It doesn’t help them that the main species of the galaxy have their own future perceiving methods as well...and that no one trusts them due to their dickery; so, when they show up, everyone tries to screw them over. Everyone.
The Eldar, Imperium of Man and the Tau represent the three stages of civilization: The Eldar are the former, fallen, power; the Imperium are the present power, who are now following in the Eldar race's footsteps; and the Tau are the rising power, who will rise to prominence (if they can survive long enough) but eventually fall just like those who came before them. The Eldar have already been through their civilization-wide apocalypse (which they did to themselves and a blind smurf could have told them was coming) and are well aware of the dark path that Mankind now blindly walks. A path so utterly different than that of the Eldar it’s practically the opposite. Actively rejecting and hating hedonism.
It is more accurate to think of the Eldar and Humans as yin and yang. Most Eldar turned to depravity, debauchery, and hedonism but a few remained aloof and embraced faith, hubris, and paranoia. Most Humans reject depravity, debauchery, and hedonism but embrace faith, hubris, and paranoia (but a few-- mostly in the ruling classes-- embrace the same excesses as most Eldar once did). In a way, the two species are dark mirrors of each other and each has a bit of the other in them. This even extends to their militaries: the Eldar mostly focus on extreme specialization and intricate planning whereas the Imperium mostly focuses on loose specialization and ham-fisted planning.
The Eldar are the faction that look so cool and have such sweet lore and awesome tech that’d you’d totally play them and love them if their personality didn’t make you hope they get eaten by Tyranids.
Also, the rune of Asurmen is a yin-yang symbol. Buuuut that's surely just a coincidence. Right, Mr. Inquisitor?
Origins and the Eldar Empire
- "I watched as the First Ones encouraged the younger race to reach further into the other realm, and with their vibrant minds and passionate souls create beings of power to fight the star gods. ...Without the wisdom and might of the First Ones I saw The Elder's warp-beings evolve from sentient weapons into living gods - the first true gods of the Immaterium."
- – 'Echoes of the Birth' - Liber Chaotica volume 2
Much of Eldar history has been lost and is consequently closer to mythology than fact. Even the Eldar themselves are unsure of the details. What they do know is that they were one of many races either created or uplifted by the Old Ones to fight against the C'tan and their minions at the time, the Necrontyr. The only knowledge of their homeworld that the Eldar have is that they had one and that it had three moons; this homeworld has been "lost" since the earliest memories of their most ancient past. The species known as the Old Ones are said to have left in their great ships, leaving the Eldar to develop on their own, only returning at an unspecific time later, only this time their ships were marked by the scars of war. The Eldar were designed to be powerful psykers to take advantage of the C'tan's weakness to the powers of the Warp. In their infancy as a race, the Eldar learned how to create Warp entities (essentially, artificial daemons) to help them get shit done (be it war, healing, or building), but when the Old Ones took the Eldar to war and subsequently got wiped out by the combined efforts of the C'Tan, the Necrons, and Enslavers, the Eldar constructs went out of control and started merging into much more powerful beings, even capable of facing full-powered C'Tan without being annihilated in 0.1 seconds. The Eldar mistook those beings for gods and started worshipping them.
There is also the possibility that in order to escape death, certain Old Ones who had strong links to the ancient Eldar may have hijacked their Warp constructs, by merging together with them, leaving their mortal bodies behind and ascending to godhood. These new "gods" started to play divine soap opera (which often resulted in piles of space elf corpses) until their boss, Asuryan, got tired of this shit, and banned all divine manifestations in real space, effectively locking all of the gods in the Warp. At this time in cosmic history, the Warp was far less dangerous, especially for the Eldar since it was mainly the swinging bachelor pad of their gods, and not a scheming, raping, murdering, rotting hellscape. Some accounts suggest that when Eldar passed away, their souls were preserved in the Warp to be reincarnated.
For reasons left conveniently unexplained, the Eldar managed to survive both the war between the Old Ones and the C'tan and the high school drama of their gods, and over thousands of years built a galaxy-spanning empire that was undoubtedly more bitchin' and stylish than anything the Imperium has achieved. The Eldar terraformed planets into paradises, inhabited thousands of them, and traveled between them effortlessly using the technology of the Webway left behind by the Old Ones. At the height of their civilization, approximately the same time that humans were starting to evolve, they were using their advanced technology to perform pretty much all the work required in their societies and had rendered manual labour completely obsolete; things called Spirit-drones and psychomatons explored and conquered in their name and they simply reaped the benefits of their galaxy-spanning empire. As time passed many Eldar began to slowly devote themselves to pursuing lives of increasingly hedonistic and decadent behaviour; something as simple as a game like football would start off as a game, but by the end of the Fall had turned into full-blown gladiatorial death matches (like actual American football) (like a goddamn Dr. Seuss fantasy... IN SPAAAACE).
With the end of the War in Heaven, they effectively became the inheritors of the Old Ones' kingdom, although that didn’t mean they immediately became the galaxy's head honchos. There were still many threats that they had to overcome. The word "Mon Keigh", for instance, originated from a race that enslaved the Eldar for a time before they were defeated. Though the word is now mostly associated with humans, at least one Imperial scholar studying the Eldar concluded it is broadly used against races that have been deemed worthy of extermination though this may be because an Imperial probably wouldn’t be willing to drawn lines between the obvious fact the mon-keigh species were cannibalistic savages and humanity’s habit of warring amongst itself and generally acting like intelligent Orks. An interesting little tidbit from "Asurmen: Hand of Asuryan" suggests that after the War in Heaven was over, for some reason, the Eldar did not have access to the Webway, and spent an unspecified amount of time having to travel to the far corners of the galaxy using conventional means in order to reactivate it.
The Cabal introduced in the Heresy does hint that the Eldar at least maintained links with many of the older species in the galaxy. The assembly consists of many of the oldest species in the galaxy, including a being they refer to as the last of the Old Kind, but also younger species; members of the cabal even considered offering the Emperor a seat (this was before the crusade started of course). The Cabal comes across a bit like the illuminati, but may have acted as a sort of UN for the galaxy, this of course is only theoretical, but may shed some light on how galactic politics may have happened in the Pre-Fall era.
The Eldar dominion before the rot started to set in is described as a shining example of civilization, although exactly what that means is a bit up in the air. It was so "perfect" that it ended up being boring, very very boring; when mentally linking with a "tree" in order to enter an Eldar version of the Matrix is considered boring that's really saying something. Without any form of hardship or strife the effectively immortal Eldar (one of the POV characters in the 'asurmen: hand of asuryan' book takes note that large numbers of Eldar were extending their natural lifespans by insane amounts, many intended to out live the star's themselves; he did not find the idea appealing, as he was already finding his own long life becoming unbearably boring, and would prefer to die and then be born into a new life) are proof that 'the devil finds work for idle hands'. The governance of the dominion seems to have been split into something like the ancient Greek city states, each governed by great councils.
Thanks to 'Path of the Archon' we know that one of the few instances of schism to have taken place during their galactic rule focused around the concept of Form. Whilst some believed that their form, both physically and spiritually, was already something inviolable, a pinnacle of evolution, others believed that the form a soul took was not predetermined and saw no problem in changing their forms as they desired; the more extreme amongst them transmigrated themselves into animals, ships, structures or even entire sub-realms (so your telling me that they can literally claim to identify as an apache helicopter, and actually make it a reality, well hell, were do I sign up).
Later on, there are a few recorded instances of the newly-spacefaring humanity clashing with elements of the Eldar race over resources; whether these Eldar the expanding humans encountered were the forces of the Eldar Empire or the fleeing Exodites is unknown. Said dynamic is arguably evident in current interactions between the Imperium and the Tau - a comparison which doesn't bode well for the former party if you accept that history tends to repeat itself.
The Eldar codex states that the vast trading vessels known as Craftworlds, which carried the tiny proportion of the race who sought to escape the corruption at the heart of the Empire, sought out other Eldar amongst the far-flung Exodites colonies and even began to settle new worlds of their own. It was then that the fates of the Eldar and Mankind intertwined for the first time, sometime between M18 and M22. It seems that there was nowhere near the amount of bad blood between the two species then as there is now in M41; non-aggression pacts were signed between humanity and dozens of alien races and the introduction of the Interex in the Horus Hersey claims that the Eldar encountered by humans at the time provided both help and guidance.
- A small bit of obscure lore from way back, deals with why Eldar void craft are designed with wings/fins on them. When traveling through the material universe they act as solar sails, but they were originally also used when traveling the warp. Once upon a time before the warp was so thirsty for Eldar souls, the Eldar were actually able to sail the currents of the Warp in almost complete safety; instead of using engines to force their way through, they would glide smoothly through the sea of souls using its natural currents, burly causing a ripple. It was stated that the Eldar were disturbed by how humanity traveled the Warp; brute forcing their way in and then using their engines to propel themselves forward, violently churning up the Warp in their wake.
The Eldar during the War in Heaven
The War in Heaven was an apocalyptic war between the species known as the Old Ones and the Necrons that makes the Horus Heresy and the war against the machines look like schoolyard scuffles. The War in Heaven occurred roughly 65 million years ago, and is implied to have been the real reason for all the mass extinctions that happened during this period, seeing as it takes place during the same time period that the last of the non-avian dinosaurs went extinct. To put the scale into perspective, Trazyn has one of the ancient Krorks that fought during this time in his exhibits; it is described a towering, twelve-meter-tall monstrosity that loomed over Fabius Bile, whose weaponry and crude exoskeleton were far more advanced than even the modern day Astartes battle-plate. To put that into even more perspective, the largest of the six Prime-orks, the ultimate mastermind behind the War of the Beast which devastated the early imperium and brought the administratum to its knees stood at only 10 meters.
Information on the Eldar during this time is a rarity and scattered throughout the lore:
- They were a powerful psychic warrior race. In the latest book in the Mephiston series, the recently awakened Necron Lord commented that although powerful, he was but a pale shadow of its recollections of the Eldar; considering the insane BS Mephiston was able to pull off, that is truly scary.
- The entire species was connected by what could be described as a species wide "Gestalt" Field; no Matter how far they may be, they are always connected together ( potentially why The Dark Prince has such a stranglehold on their souls). Many before the Fall took this for granted, only to suffer soul crushing loneliness when it was torn from them. Those that join the Ynnari are able to reconnect, with many finally realising that the Fall hadn't just broken them in the physical sense, but it had shattered them spiritually; if the species has any chance of survival they must become whole once more.
- They created warp constructs/weapons that could be used to battle the Star Gods directly.
- They were apparently able to “reincarnate” after they died.
- They were psykers who could read minds with but a glance and crush an opponent’s weapons with a mere gesture.
- They fought using swords and spears, not firearms, essentially being more powerful warlocks:
- “We speak of gods and souls, and this one assumes the smith-god’s gift to the Eldar was plasma weaponry? Hah! These events occurred eons before the Eldar had mastered such things. They fought with swords, spears and their own twisted version of faith.”
- They were created before the Krorks, and although powerful they were few in number by comparison.
- The Eldar were said to represent silence and grace, whilst the Orks represented rage and noise.
- The Jokaero were made by the Old Ones to serve as slave-engineers to the other weapon-races and to the Old Ones. The War in Heaven exhibit has a Khaineite warrior armed with some form of chainsword; meaning the Jokaero may be the origin for all chain bladed weaponry that exists in the 40k universe.
- They made use of “Iron Knights” animated by Eldar souls and “Giants” inhabiting the souls of the greatest Eldar heroes. Standing three times taller than a Necron and virtually indestructible, they carried arcane weaponry that could channel and project soulfire that ripped their opponents apart. They are reminiscent of the Wraith constructs employed by the Craftworld Eldar, and also resemble the creation and use of the Avatars of Khaine. In Ghost Warrior: Rise of the Ynnari Autarch Meliniel has gained the ability to transform into an Avatar at will, which may indicate that certain ancient Eldar Warriors may have been able to do the same. Tyrion during the End Times did something similar, becoming an avatar of Khaine through the use of the sword Widowmaker (the last of the swords forged for Khaine by Vaul), which means that it may be the forging of objects directly connected to the gods that may have allowed for these theorized transformations.
- During Rise of the Ynnari: Wild Rider, Nuadhu Fireheart, due to some type of ancestral memory, has flashbacks to fighting alongside constructs larger than titans in the original War in Heaven. These titanic figures could very well be the physical manifestation of the Eldar gods given form in the physical plane.
- The Necron Phaerekh known as the Watcher in the Dark, upon watching Aeldari ships descending from the sky, has flashes from her pre-Necron life. She sees images of immense flying predators and makes a note that the Eldar ships seem to have been inspired by these same creatures; this may represent the Eldar mythological figure of the Cosmic Serpent and its children. Many of the Eldar ships and vehicles (such as the Dragonships, Waveserpent, Vyper, Skyweavers, Starweaver and Voidweaver) are all named in honour of these mythical figures. It could be that during the War in Heaven, the Eldar may have ridden "dragons" in a similar manor to the High Elf Dragon Princes and Dragon-riders; the "dragons" that the Eldar Exodites ride may well be their lesser descendants. During the Heresy, Vulkan fought an Exodite seer upon the back of a giant winged "dragon", so there may still be some of these guys still out there.
- The 8th edition Codex mentions that virtually every battle between the Eldar and Necrons was an overwhelming victory for the Eldar, even after the Old Ones were wiped out. Ultimately, the ensuing assumption of Eldar invincibility would help lay the foundation for the Fall, as they came to think nothing could stop their empire.
- With the apparent demise of the Old Ones, it was the Eldar who stepped up to fill the power vacuum left behind; leading the other creations of the Old Ones against the now weakened Necrons, forcing them into their long sleep.
- The Eldar were led by the brother heroes, Eldanesh and Ulthanesh, who alone could control the Warp Gods and summon them onto the physical plane. The brothers and their gods would lead their children into battle time and time again, pitting Warp spawned furies against the soulless technologies of the Yngir.
- To give an idea to the scale of power wielded by the ancient Eldar, we can look at the Spear of Twilight currently used by the last of the house of Ulthanash, Prince Yriel. The spear of twilight is said to have been used by Ulthanesh himself, and although it is a pale shadow of its former might it is still capable of, not only wounding but feeding upon god tier entities such as the Hive Mind (too bad its tabletop rules don't represent this).
- "Yriel plunged his spear deep into the rearing serpent. It keened terribly, and Yriel salivated as his weapon drank. Since the day he had lost his eye due to the spear feasting on the limitless hive mind, he had managed to control its fell power and its obscene appetites, but at this final pass he no longer had the strength, and the spear’s murderous soul overwhelmed him. He could not stop it feeding, drawing upon the infinity of spirit the Great Devourer possessed. Yriel felt the hive mind, heard it howl. It thrashed about, and Yriel was battered by its anger. Its thoughts were utterly, unimaginably alien. But one thing came through strong and loud. Hatred, hatred for this creature that had for the first time in untold eons wounded it."
- It has been shown that "Chaos", or, as the Necron Phaerekh called it, "the foe-that-creeps", was very much a growing problem, with whole worlds destroyed to prevent its spreading influence. Apparently, the Eldar had been brought into being with the specific intent for them to resist the counter-dimensional incursions, whilst at the same time making use of the Warp to do battle with the Necrons. As has been mentioned, the longer the War in Heaven lasted, the more it churned up the sea of souls, and in doing so created many of the dangers that would now hunt within its depths. At some point the Warp-spawned horrors flooding reality must have reached a breaking point, as both the Eldar and Necrons seem to have joined forces to beat their demonic arses back into the hell from which they came. Vaults created through the efforts of both the Necrons and Eldar imprisoned many of these daemonic entities; this includes powerful daemons of "Slaanesh"?
- Thanks to recent revelations from 'Infinite and the Divine', we now know that the War in Heaven was indeed an accumulation of many different incidents, happening over a very long period of time. The time period known as the War in Heaven lasted around five million years; not kidding here, according to two very high profile Necron Lords this is how long it took. However it does appear as if their memories have become somewhat mixed up, or maybe deliberately tampered with during biotransference, as the two Lords have very different reconciliations about who dragged who away towards the bio-furnaces. After the War in Heaven ended (in reality it never really ended, the bell is about to ring announcing the start of the next round) the Eldar that emerged are said to have taken a very hands off approach to what little life remained in the galaxy, holding a reverence for life in the wake of the destruction wrought by the apocalyptic war. Eldar even visited early Earth, where they discovered a species of small mammals, the earliest ancestors to modern humans. A debate then arose concerning these creatures, as visions gifted to the Eldar revealed that in the far distant future they would either be responsible for Chaos ultimately consuming the galaxy, or a vital element in the fight against the Primordial Annihilator. The Eldar at the time decided to take a gamble and left life on Earth to develop unmolested (too bad the gamble failed; to be clear this is very old lore, but a conversation during ‘Throne World’ does hint at its continuous existence within the current Lore).
Not what they used to be
As is the case for the Orks, the ancient Eldar during the War in Heaven seem far more powerful than their modern-day descendants. It would make sense that the Old Ones would build safeguards into their creations, to limit them if it ever looked like they were getting too big for their boots or too difficult to control. This may have resulted in the shutting down or limiting of certain powers and abilities; Iyanna in "Ghost warrior" is mentioned using her psychic powers to reignite the accelerated healing processes hidden deep inside the core of every Aeldari, which resulted in a shattered leg knitting itself back together wolverine style; this ability is referred to as the 'Tress of Isha'.
The stories of Eldanesh the First of the Aeldari and his defiance of Khaine, Morai-Heg and her prophecies, and the tale of the Eldar being locked out of "heaven" and separated from their gods may be a poetic retelling of events that saw the ancient Eldar stripped of their former might and cast back into the galaxy to fend for themselves.
Although mostly theory, the idea that the Old Ones essentially "decommission" their weapons once they had achieved the task that they had been created for does go towards explaining why the Eldar were seemingly denied the use of the Webway, and how a race that had fought and defeated the Necrons could somehow end up being enslaved by a seemingly barbaric and brutish species from whom the term mon-keigh originated.
- "And you threw away the greatest weapons we gave you! look at them now, cowering in the shadows, flinching at the movement in the darkness. There is no greatness left in these people. They are not worthy of your protection. Give them to us, my daughter. Bring us together and let us feast on them until we are strong and whole again. We will free you from the domination of the one that sundered us.
- No! We shall not be enslaved by gods or ourselves again.
- And so you will imprison yourselves instead. You will gutter and die like candles rather than burn bright like pyres.
- Better that than servitude to the Kinslayer. There is nothing you will not bend to your will, and you will use us and destroy us in that purpose. Eldanesh refused you with good reason, breaker of oaths."
- Jain Zar confronts an Avatar of Khaine.
The Fall happened gradually between c.M18-30 and if Farseer by William King is to believed, it all really started with an Eldar called Lord Shaha Gaathon (or as he would be later called, The Harbinger of Slaanesh) - he was to Slaanesh what Yvraine is to Ynnead. Shaha Gaathon was the first to start what was to become the cults of pleasure and he would later become the first Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. It may seem strange for the Fall to take place over what is a comparatively very short period of time given the insane length of their rule, but the rate of the Fall can be directly compared to the increasingly violent Warp storms that would eventually lead to the collapse of the DAOT; according to the Lore, when humanity first started using the Warp to travel it was considerably more calm and peaceful, only to eventually end up so volatile that Warp travel became impossible. The Fall really did take place over the course of thousands, not millions, of years, with many Eldar witnessing the slow degradation take place over a single Eldar life time. It is weird that it happened so suddenly, like practically overnight, but it is perhaps possible Slaanesh causes The Fall. Time is a joke in the Warp and all the Chaos Gods always existed even before they were born.
Ironically, those who sought to delay the coming doom that some among their seers had foreseen actually in some ways accelerated its coming. As first the Exodites, then the Craftworlds and like-minded Eldar fled the heart of the Eldar Empire in greater and greater numbers, what rational, cautious and puritanical elements there were in the Eldar Empire as a whole were effectively stripped away from their society. Without their calming, cautionary influence, the rest of their civilization likely slipped further and deeper into depravity.
- "Shaha Gaathon is one of the greatest of the servants of He Who We Do Not Name. He existed before the Great Enemy came. Since before the birth of his master, he has a terrible hatred for the eldar, and I believe, he wishes to use your people as a weapon against mine. There are futures waiting to be born in which the followers of the Emperor will turn on my people and destroy them utterly. There are timelines in which the eldar respond with our forbidden and ultimate weapons and both races are so dramatically weakened that Chaos overwhelms them.
- Your people are numberless as the grains of sand upon a beach. It does not matter how powerful our weapons are, you will eventually overwhelm us, for the Harbinger of the Lord of all Pleasures knows the location of all our hidden home-vessels."
- – Farseer, William King
Throughout the Eldar civilization, a profound degradation in moral discipline and a gradual slide into sensual excess commenced, undermining the foundations of the once-great Empire. With the rise of the cults of pleasure over the once-great ruling councils, worship of the Eldar gods declined, many even considered themselves to be gods in their own right; there are even pits near the entrances to the dark city into which the status of the gods were hurled, now thousands of years later they are buried under religious relics stolen from species from across the galaxy, just going to show the utter contempt that the Dark Eldar held towards their racial pantheon. We are told that most of the Pantheon could do nothing but watch events unfold with growing horror, Isha wept for her children, Khaine raged and the lord of the Eldar gods simply turned and walked away. As the quest for excess crossed into outright evil, a perverse new god began to stir in the Warp. That is not to say the Eldar at the time of the Fall were quite like the Dark Eldar. They were certainly similar but more like a hybrid of Dark Eldar and Corsair in terms of personality and culture. The Dark Eldar became what they are due to a combination of desperation to stave off Slaanesh and naturally choosing to do so in ways they were most familiar with (i.e. torture and hedonism) cranked up to eleven even by their own standards (not that they didn't enjoy it).
As Eldar civilization became more and more excessive, it began to resemble the world of a certain godawful assault on the dignity of the human creative impulse, and the Eldar made a science and a cultural centerpiece out of indulging and refining every perverted sensual desire they had. As their race descended into lawlessness, depravity, and evil, little did they know that all of it was nourishing a new entity in the Warp. Some Eldar decided to forsake the ways of their kin and left to settle other planets at the fringes of the galaxy; this turned out to be a pretty smart move, since the planet-wide orgies and other assorted debauchery going on back home culminated psychically in a gargantuan Warp storm that resulted in the birth of the Chaos god Slaanesh and tore an enormous hole in the fabric of realspace that is now known as the Eye of Terror. This calamity also resulted in the deaths of most of the Eldar still on their homeworlds.
The Eldar race are highly psychically gifted, and as the corruption spread the echoes of ecstasy and agony rippled through time and space and in the Warp the reflections of these intense experiences began to coalesce unknowingly into an unimaginably foul and sickening shadow of what the Eldar, their pride and their nobility had become, brought low by perversity and shamelessness. In the twilight years approaching the Birth of the Dark Prince the Eldar were riven with madness. Worlds burned as the Eldar slew and laughed and feasted upon the dead.
Most of the Eldar gods were wiped out along with their race. The newborn Slaanesh, a creature without equal in perversion and heinousness, rampaged through the Warp, devouring everything Eldar that he/she/it/they could get its hands/tentacles/claws/many phallic appendages on. The gods who bit the big one were Asuryan, Kurnous, Lileath, Morai-Heg, and Vaul. The three that survived are the Laughing God, Cegorach; the shattered God of War and Fire, Khaine; and the Goddess of Healing and Fertility, Isha, also known as the Mother.
During this mass deicide, Khaine fought against Slaanesh and found himself evenly matched. Before a winner could be decided, however, Khorne appeared and declared Khaine his property. Whether this was due to the slight similarities in their names, or the fact that Khaine was another god of war is unknown. What is known is that Slaanesh refused, resulting in the first of the many regular beatings Khorne gives Slaanesh. (Which pleases him/her/it/them.) While Khorne was curb-stomping the proper order of things into his new compatriot's head, Khaine was shattered into many pieces and flung into the mortal realm (probably due to being used as a convenient club by Khorne to beat sense into Slaanesh's head). These shattered pieces of Khaine found their way to the Eldar Craftworlds and are now used to summon the Avatar of Khaine to fight for them (a fate very similar to the Burning One).
Cegorach famously ran from Slaanesh in a very Benny Hill-like fashion before Khaine showed up. It was at this point Cegorach told Khaine "you got this" and fled to safety. Cegorach now spends all his time getting into "Just As Planned"- competitions with the other dicks of the galaxy. The rest of his time is spent reading books in the Black Library and trolling Ahriman by denying him entrance to it. He also usually plays Paradox-Billiards-Vostroyan-Roulette-Fourth Dimensional-Hypercube-Chess-Strip Poker with Tzeentch, the Deceiver and the Emperor once every week. It's not exactly known how three dimensions managed to contain that much dickery in a single location without imploding. The Warp did it.
The fertility goddess, Isha, was saved
from the lusty Argonian maid *BLAM* NO!! by none other than Papa Nurgle. Isha now endures as the test subject of Nurgle's plagues and as of the 6th edition Daemons codex is kept company by a small forest of the agonizingly petrified Seer souls of the one craftworld that believed she still existed/survived and that were supposedly her descendants (at this we should note that ALL Eldar are descendants of Isha). The disease that set them in that state, one capable of degrading Wraithbone—and divinely created versions of the stuff, no less—is mysteriously absent from any other lore. Her subsequent weeping was pathetic enough for one Death Guard Plague Marine who observed her plight to learn what pity was. Sleep tight, Life Mother. (You could also take the story allegorically, with the Eldar's life goddess, and thus their continued existence, tethered to the god of death and hopelessness.)
In mere moments the Eldar Empire that had ruled the stars for time immemorial imploded in spectacular fashion. The Eldar that remained were a broken race, who fell from undisputed mastery of the Galaxy to a people barely clinging to the precipice of existence. Those that escaped upon the Craftworlds suffered even further unforeseen consequences; where the fragments of Khaine landed and rooted, his rage and fury lashed out to the souls and minds of the Eldar, infecting them with a bloodlust that turned them upon each other. Craftworlds burned as Eldar fought Eldar. Driven by their own maddening grief and the impulses of a shattered god, the Eldar tore themselves apart, until the Pheonix Lords introduced the Path system, enabling Eldar to at least regain mastery over themselves.
- "No! We shall not be enslaved by gods or ourselves again."
- – Jain Zar
The Eldar present in the 41st millennium are the descendants of those who left to settle other planets or are the mercantile group that travelled around in their enormous ships called Craftworlds. They are dedicated to their fight against the forces of Chaos spawned by the folly of their ancestors. They are extremely long-lived; the average Eldar has a natural lifespan of at least a thousand years, and the most powerful of their psykers can survive to be tens of thousands of years old. Most Eldar die in battle while still in their prime, and their population continues to dwindle. So grimdark. The Craftworld Eldar are now mostly focused on using their collective deceased souls, interred in each craftworld's Infinity Circuit, to birth a new god into the Warp, Ynnead, whom they hope will be powerful enough to destroy Slaanesh once and for all and save the Eldar race. The Dark Eldar are those who have continued to embrace the vices that led to the destruction of the Eldar Empire; they still exist largely in the state in which the Empire left off. Other Eldar, like the Corsairs (see below) and the Exodite Eldar (the ones living on fringe planets unaffected by the cataclysms of the Fall) are somewhere in between ideologically. The Harlequins, yet another sub-group, devote themselves to preserving what they can of their pre-Fall history via plays and oral tradition, minimizing chances of successful communication. They also act as respected diplomatic intermediaries between the other factions of remaining Eldar in the 41st millennium. And last but not least, there are the Ynnari, who get all the spotlight these days.
In humanity the Eldar see history repeating itself and fear the bitter destiny that they will reap and know that they no longer possess the strength to prevent it.
Which is strange, because in the Grimdark of the 42nd Millenium, humanity isn’t partying. At all. The Eldar should be less concerned about projecting their failures on others and more concerned with what happens when humanity awakens as a psychic species. Human psykers can be powerful, but incredibly vulnerable to being overwhelmed/corrupted by the Warp. A very, very bad combination; now imagine quadrillions of them, which is essentially exactly what they mean by humanity walking the same dark path as the ancient Eldar. It's not supposed to be taken as an exact one for one scenario, but the idea that although the scenery may change the path remains the same. In interviews with members of The Black Library team, they tried to clear up some misunderstandings; It's not that humanity (on an individual level) will become that notably powerful upon becoming a full-blown psychic race, but more that the sheer number of them will be the problem; humans are highly corruptible and although they can be powerful, they simply do not have the ability to handle it well (there are the odd one or two, but we are looking at humans as a whole). Humanity in 40k exist in unimaginable numbers, spread across the entire galaxy; if they were to become a psychic race, every one of them will become an unprotected gateway for the Warp, and all that exists within. Humanity's psychic awakening will see a new 'Eye of Terror' style event occur, but due to how humanity now exist across the entire galaxy, so will this new cataclysm. The galaxy will be drowned by a galaxy spanning Eye of Terror, and the time of the Rhana Dandra will begin.
This isn't even considering that Slaanesh did indeed orchestrate its own birth, deliberately bringing about the 10,000 years of slow decline that saw the Eldar delve into truly horrific hedonism, that saw the Dark Prince hijack Ynnead's birth, who was supposed to be born from the Eldar. Like the Eldar, Humanity has spent around 10,000 years flooding the Warp with - instead of pleasure and pain like the Eldar - suffering, hatred and all those other lovely emotions so prevalent within the imperium of man. whose to say that humanity won't suffer a similar fate? You may be expecting the Emperor to burst forth into a divine being, but what happens if the negative emotions humans have pumped out during these past 10,000 years were to result in humanity giving birth to something else, a new dark god, a twisted warped version of the Emperor just like Slaanesh is a twisted version of Ynnead.
This of course may not be where GW chooses to go, buts it's worth consideration.
As the Time of Ending approaches the remaining Eldar must contend with a galaxy that is no longer theirs. In the bloody wake of the Fall, the race of Mankind has grown to preeminence. The Imperium has ascended, conquering much of the galaxy in the name of the corpse-god it calls Emperor. The Aeldari, whose maturation patterns span nearly a century, cannot compete in numbers with a race whose generations multiply with the frantic pace of vermin. In their weakened state, the Eldar have watched as the Imperium’s uncompromising hatred, hunger for power and constant wars have created rich fodder that only functions to swell the Dark Gods’ power and ripens the galaxy for conquest by the forces of Chaos.
Of course, if the Eldar had perhaps intervened to deal with literally everyone trying to kill or enslave humanity, this wouldn't have been a problem as the Imperium wouldn't have had to fight for survival against everyone for ten thousand years and wouldn't have grown to hate everyone for trying to murderize them for merely existing. The Eldar were kind of busy with their own problems during this time, like the slow corruption eating away at the core of their race and the small event that saw their near complete extinction, and the fallout that occurred in its wake. The Eldar first encountered humanity in the short period of time between M18 and M22; M18 when humanity first started using the Warp to travel, too M22 when humanity was already collapsing. The Eldar aren't responsible for the wellbeing of humanity, and although we do have examples of Eldar indeed helping out, even against their own kind (as seen during the Heresy) they have no responsibility to do so. M18 is when the cults of pleasure began to spread across the Eldar Dominion, running roughshod over the warnings of their own kind who warned of the dangers that such a path might lead. By the time humanity was being assailed during the age of strife the Eldar were essentially at war with themselves over the very soul of their race; even after Humanity's complete collapse the Eldar Dominion would continue too fall further into hedonism, so they were a bit preoccupied. After the Fall and the soon to be rise of the Imperium the Eldar that remained were a broken and shattered species, a spent force in the galaxy, trying to pull themselves together in a desperate attempt to survive. They would go through a turbulent period of adjustment in the wake of the collapse of everything they had ever known, and the near extinction of their entire species; they neither had the time or the inclination to pay much attention to the going's on, and worries of someone else. Then after they had entered into a more stable period, the Great Crusade came a knocking, bringing with it even more death and sorrow. Why the hell would they feel any need to offer help to Humanity, when humans have proven themselves all to willing to show nothing but hate and violence to anyone different to themselves (some did anyway, and got a bolter to the face for their trouble)? The period of the Fall may have played an unintended but significant roll in the collapse of the DAOT, but it is Humanity's choices in the aftermath that have led them down the path that they now walk. (why is it that it's only when they help humans that they are considered "good", surely it's time that that the Imperium started helping out for a change).
To add to the above point, the Imperium currently stands as the single most powerful force in the setting. As much as GW want to pretend that the forces of the Imperium are the plucky underdogs, fighting against impossible odds, it simply isn't true; the Imperium holds more territory then anyone else and has numbers that put the Orks to shame, the best and most powerful warriors, armour and weapons,
and now has more powerful psyches then the Eldar and apparently tech that may even surpass the Necrons. Farseers are still more powerful than librarians, it's just that they are less of them and secondly Necrons have the Celestial Orrery, the Imperium doesn't have shit on that, all in all there really isn't any area that the Imperium isn't just simply better then all the other factions (the Imperium's new faith based powers for example are just a superior version of the Orks belief abilities), according to the current GW writers. Whenever we see the Imperium fighting someone we are actually seeing the Imperium punching downwards, it's actually the other side who are the underdogs in these fights. The idea that everyone should simply forgive the most powerful and dominant power in the setting it's many, many transgressions and stop being "mean" to it is just laughable; given their position of power it is the Imperium who should be the ones who should be seeking to mend bridges and aid those weaker then themselves (they might actually make some allies), instead of expecting all the other factions to just drop everything and hand everything over to the "poor" Imperium.
This all comes down to poor narrative story telling on GW's part, as it robs any feelings of sympathy towards the Imperium (you're really not supposed to, but still), instead of watching the Imperium heroically fighting against overwhelming odds, GW have turned the Imperium into what is essentially a school yard bully, who picks on the weaker kids, beats them up and steals their lunch money, but expects everyone to feel sorry for them when one of their victims dares to fight back.
Not only Chaos but the Imperium’s blind aggression has also contributed to the rise of the Ork threat -- Mankind fails to realise that they only strengthen the Orks with every *direct* conflict they engage them in. Many Eldar fear that their numbers are now too large for even the most protracted cull to have any real effect, and should the Ork hordes unite their efforts, all the artifice and cunning of the Aeldari would not be enough to stop them drowning the galaxy in blood. To a point, at least. The Imperium is fully aware of how Orks spread and cleanses the areas tainted by their spores. Help from a species with the ability to purge worlds entirely of Ork spores would be appreciated but they prefer to sit back and watch while telling the humans how important it is to destroy the spores instead of actually helping with that; which is essentially what happened during the union of Biel-tan and Iyanden, that saw them cleanse massive areas of the galaxy of Orks before Iyanden grew uncomfortable with Biel-tan's increasingly extreme behaviour, and although the Eldar do perform controlled cullings in an attempt to limit the might of the green menace they don't really have any motive in preventing Orks and humans killing each other.
With the Eldar now a mere shadow of their former might, old and new foes alike are now stepping forward to stake their claim; like sharks drawn by the smell of blood they move to take advantage of the Galaxy's former masters' demise. From the terror of the emerging Tyranid fleets, to the young dynamic T’au in the east (who offered friendship a while back but were laughed off) - to speak nothing of the Necrons, ancient enemies of the Aeldari whose lords are eager to renew their war against their much-diminished rivals - the few Eldar that remain find themselves beset on all sides by those that would see every single one of them dead. Perhaps if they hadn't spent their entire existence making enemies of absolutely everyone that wouldn't have happened.
Not since the days of the Fall have the Aeldari been so fragmented and assailed, and for those who yet survive, war remains their only hope. While their many foes lack the technology, wisdom and skill of the Children of the Stars, in numbers alone they seem insurmountable. Yet the Aeldari are a proud race, determined that the flame of their people will blaze brightly once more rather than flicker and die out.
The Eldar Paths
After the fall of their race, and apart from the potential to have their souls eaten by a crazed demonic rapist masturbating furiously in the Warp, the Eldar realized most of their population had also been cursed with hyper-sensitivity and super-reflection in the Warp. This new curse was adapted into the Paths of the Eldar, their equivalent to careers. The creator of this system was the Phoenix Lord Asurmen, first of the Asurya, who devised the Paths whilst training the first of his pupils, Jain Zar, earning him the ire of Slaanesh who perceived him as leading the Eldar astray from his/her/its embrace.
If they wish to, the Eldar can spend hundreds of years dedicated to perfecting their fry cook job at Space Elf Wendy's, then move on to the next occupation that takes their fancy. Why do they focus on one thing? Because branching out might be "excess", so instead they strive for perfection in a single discipline. Which is pretty stupid, as "perfection" is also part of Slaanesh's portfolio (although this is misleading, and a very mistakenly literal take on the "perfection" the Eldar strive for - the Path system enforces strict discipline to those who could no longer be trusted to control themselves in the presence of free will; perfecting a Path for them isn't the same as Fulgrim striving for total perfection in every aspect of his life; rather, the Craftworld Eldar have given up a life of unlimited freedom in favor of a life strictly regimented and based around discipline and complete self-control. If you're hyper-focusing on one specific thing for three hundred years, you can't be focusing on all of the other things at the same time. This is, of course, not in line with the way Slaanesh does things. Also, you could say being that focused, they're working so hard, they can't take pleasure in this perfection. It might be better to say the Eldar follow a strict living style in a skill and perfection of that skill is simply a natural result, not a goal or intent). As you would expect from a universe where an entire race can be wiped out by the birth of a single sick piece of Warp meat, the two most prevalent paths are the Path of the Seer and the Path of the Warrior, or The Path of the Dick and The Path of Everyone Else. The Path of the Warrior includes exotically-titled job opportunities like being a Warp Spider, a Howling Banshee, or a Fire Dragon, all of which involve the applicant donning some form of flamboyant drag attire and out-trending the enemy (see left). Also, they will occasionally shoot and/or impale things with deadly proficiency. The Path of the Seer includes jobs for potential Warlocks and Seers. The few Eldar without ADHD who follow the Path of the Warrior or the Seer will eventually become an Exarch or Farseer. Of course, the Paths of the Eldar are not limited to the Seer and the Warrior; Someone has to fill the revered positions in the Path of the Toilet Cleaner. Let's not forget the Path of the Angry Gamer and the Path of the Craftworld Drunk, either.
The Path system governs every aspect of Craftworld life, enabling the Eldar to harness their emotional and intellectual intensity safely without jeopardizing themselves or those around them. It also provides them a form of self-reflection, allowing them to examine aspects of themselves both good and bad. This then allows them to develop mentally and spiritually: for example an Eldar may walk the path of the sculptor but realize that they have become too focused upon the task at hand and seek out a more abstract path such as the path of the dreamer, or they may wish to focus down a different artistic path such as the musician. Each path adds upon the paths that they have walked before and so add to the sort of person the Eldar is becoming.
After the Fall, among the most important paths to emerge were the Witch Paths; those who find themselves walking these very long and dangerous paths are more commonly known as seers. There is no force in the galaxy that can weave the skeins of fate and manipulate the future like the Aeldari and their Farseers are famous (or infamous depending on were you stand) for doing just that. The Farseers are similar to their counterparts the Exarchs among the shrines of Khaine, in that they have become lost upon their chosen path and can no longer leave. Since the time of the Fall, and more importantly the actions of Eldrad Ulthran, the Path of the seer has been refined into a precious tool that can be used in reshaping the Skeins of fate to bring about a more favourable future for their kind. The Skein that the Seers follow and reshape is like a cobweb of interlinking and crossing threads making up a tapestry showing the present, future and past of the galaxy and everyone in it. Not all seers are equal however, and although the destination may be fixed the journey can always throw up some nasty surprises. In order to avoid the possibility of missing something vital and avoiding any possible hidden trip hazards Farseers rarely act on their own (it normally doesn't end well for those that do); instead they will consult with a seer council who will then examine these possible threads and determine what course of action, if any, should be taken. With multiple Farseers interpreting and examining the possible outcomes they can explore the myriad skeins of the past, present and future, allowing them to follow countless threads and studying the consequences of the smallest deviation so as to better guide their people. However due to the shattered and splintered nature of their race, Seer councils from different Craftworlds may have different goals in mind and may find themselves competing against each other to bring about different outcomes. These can often result in shadow wars fought not by the Craftworlds themselves but by proxy forces, manipulated unknowingly into acting on their benefactors' behalf. However, the Eldar tend to forget that just because you foresaw something one second doesn’t mean the future has not changed the next second. This often leads to their downfall in stories.
To understand how Farseer’s work, you have to understand what the Weave of Fate is. Think of it like the tapestry woven by the Fates in our own mythology, it is a representation of the past, present and future, with each individual that has and will ever exist being part of the pattern. Every being in existence has a thread that is woven into the weave, its path crisscrossing and mingling with countless others, changing and redirecting the flow of fate. Some threads have little impact, their threads pale and thin, while others shine bright and strong against the countless destinies interwoven within the Weave of Fate.
It is this Weave that Farseers interact with, moving their consciousness outside of time to travel the many different threads before them. A farseer will follow many threads as far as they are able to see. Even in the heat of battle a Farseer will travel back and forth along the threads of fate, changing, cutting and reshaping the course of the threads, playing out many different scenarios until they have discovered the path they believe to be the most beneficial. For example a Farseer may walk a particular thread that sees them witness a wall collapsing, allowing an Ork war host to surprise a Dire Avenger squad: The Farseer could if they choose to return along the thread back to the present, allowing them to foreworn the Dire Avengers; the wall will still collapse but this time it’s the Orks who are turned into a fine red mist. The Runes act as anchor points and navigating tools, much like sailors using the stars to navigate; the more Runes a Seer can wield the better.
The actions taken by Farseers can often seem random, with seemingly no immediate impact, but it is not the now or even the immediate future that most interests the Seers of the Eldar. There may be a case that in a few hundred years’ time a mighty Chaos Lord will rise to prominence on an Imperial world, who would then lead a violent crusade that will see untold billions slaughtered, or worse. However by creating a scenario through the actions of a Faseer, in which that individual is never born (this can be achieved in many different ways besides killing, such as changing the fate of one or both parents so that they never meet) will remove that thread from the Weave. Most of the greatest achievements of the Seers of the Eldar will never be known, for they have already prevented whatever disaster was to befall them before it started. As long as the Seers are doing their job properly then no news is good news.
Of course not all Seers are created equal, and many an inexperienced Seer has fucked up at least once; for instance as the young seer from the ‘Path of the Eldar’ series discovered to her horror, being so certain that she was right she ignored the advice and insights of her peers and went off on her own, inadvertently bringing into being the very future she wished to prevent. Many Seers have very different ideas as to what they would consider an ideal future; a seer from Biel-tan will have very different priorities from a Seer from Ulthwe for example, which is why the most important decisions will be decided by a Seer Council rather than an individual.
It is also possible for entities of sufficient enough power such as slaanesh and tzeentch to obscure elements of the Weave, hiding things that they wish to remain hidden; there is a reason why Fulgrim’s fate was hidden. Eldrad himself upon meeting the Primarch realised that he was unable to read Fulgrim’s thread, as the Dark Princes was interfering directly. The Hive Mind and the Shadow in the Warp can also interfere with a Seer's ability to read the Weave, and Items such as the Necron device in ‘Priests of Mars’ made reading the threads of fate almost impossible, as it was tearing the Weave apart to the point that existence itself was about to collapse into nothingness. Phoenix Lords such as Jain Zar have proven themselves capable of reshaping the weave; a very young Eldrad is amazed at the fact that no matter how he tried to read the threads of fate, they would always reshape themselves around the wishes of the Phoenix Lord, and when the Phoenix Lord was deciding on what course of action to take, the entire weave froze in place as if waiting for the orders of its master; this may be due to the fact that the Banshee Aspect is related to the Crone Goddess, who is essentially fate incarnate.
The galaxy is in chaos and it is not always possible to prevent every horror that awaits. Sometimes no matter what you do, some things are simply unavoidable (although they can be shifted a bit further along the path). Sometimes to prevent a major disaster that will come to pass, a smaller cost must be paid, even if that cost may seems meaningless to those who cannot see the effects such actions will have upon the future.
To understand the Eldar at War it is important to understand the existence of the War Mask. The galaxy of the 40th/41st millennium is a dark and violent place, where not fighting means death (or worse); would this was not the case, but for the Eldar the call of Khaine comes with even greater and greater frequency as the galaxy continues to grow darker.
The War Mask is not a physical thing, but a way of separating their normal self from their war-self by mentally creating a mask, or mental construct, that takes the form of an artificial alternate personality, essentially creating an alternate version of themselves that can be worn or discarded when needed; this alternate self will even take upon itself a new name.
It is within the Shrines of Khaine that an Eldar will, under the guidance of the shrine's exarch, learn to create their War Mask. Before a battle an Eldar will enter their warrior shrine where they will perform the ritualistic donning of their armour; each piece of armour in place strengthens their War Mask until who they were is safely hidden away behind their alternate self, essentially entering a dormant/hibernation-like state as their War-self now stands in their place. This War-self is able to perform the truly horrific acts that the galaxy calls upon them to perform as all emotions that might cause their blades to falter, such as empathy or kindness, are locked away; what stands in their place is a cold-blooded killer, a warrior of the god of war and murder who will perform any terrible act they are called upon to do. An Eldar could be the most kind and gentle being in the galaxy but upon wearing their War Mask they become a heartless killer; most people outside of the Craftworlds will have little if any experience of Eldar that are not currently wearing their War Mask, which adds to how they are viewed by the greater galaxy.
Eldar Guardians are usually provided a temporary War Mask by a seer before they enter battle. Storm Guardians are made up of those who have already walked the path of the warrior and have their own Mask already.
When the bloody work is done an Eldar will remove their War Mask, returning to their normal self without any memories of any atrocities that they may have had to perform as they are now safely locked away within their War Mask (although it is known for Eldar to weep upon removing their War Mask without knowing the reason why).
In this way the Eldar turn the bloody work of Khaine into a tool that can be wielded or put away at will without losing themselves to Khaine's dark influence.
Exarchs are those Eldar that find that they can no longer separate themselves from war, having lost themselves along the Path of the Warrior. These individuals are held in equal parts awe and revulsion by the rest of the Eldar population, for their souls now belong to Khaine. Their souls will no longer join with the rest in the infinity circuit; rather their own armour acts as a small self-isolated circuit, containing all the souls of its previous owners (they essentially merge together to create a stronger whole; even when not wearing the armour itself they remain as a single consciousness). If the armour is destroyed it will be reformed within their Shrine (in a similar way as the Avatars of Khaine), waiting for the next one to wear it; if the shrine itself is destroyed then the Exarch can be housed within a Wraithlord, until the shrine and armour are restored, making it very difficult to actually permanently kill an Exarch (this happens to the Fire Dragon Exarch that appears in 'Valedor'). Upon becoming lost upon the path they will seek out an empty shrine for themselves and prepare to welcome those who seek them out. These individuals are not insane berserkers, but act as priests, guides and teachers to those who find themselves upon the warrior path (for what ever reason), as it is their role to help those that follow them achieve control over their dark impulses and find focus and balance within themselves, so that they too won't lose themselves to Khaine.
Technology and the Children of the Stars
For untold millennia the dominions of the Eldar ruled the stars, unopposed and unchallenged. Unfettered by the oppressive claim that Slaanesh holds over their immortal souls, their psychic might was matched only by their technological mastery.
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. Eldar technology adheres closely to natural biological shapes and structures. To them, 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 functionality 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.
According to an article in the Warhammer 40,000 Compilation, the Eldar may have always been psychic, with their Psychic powers manifesting themselves into a variety of unusual talents. One such natural ability is referred to as psychomorphism by the human Xenobiologists of the Imperium. In crude terms, this gives every one of them the ability to psychically shape matter and create simple artefacts from raw materials.
By making use of psychokinesis and empathic telepathy they can influence the structure of growing matter. This empathic ability may have been particularly important during the early development of the Eldar race enabling them to promote the fruitfulness of edible crops and reshape the growth of trees to make simple shelters. The first Eldar villages and towns are supposed to have been living structures grown from trees, often covering many square miles and reaching high into the air.
Because of their psychic abilities, the Eldar race learned how to make and shape raw materials at a very early stage of cultural development. By means of their mental powers, they were able to refine minerals and shape the resulting metals and stones into whatever they wanted. Eldar technology has a very ancient history and the pace of its progress is closely tied to the slow evolutionary development of the race, which saw a steady growth in competence and knowledge over a very long period of time. In other words the level of traditional Eldar tech is heavily influenced by the Psychic skill level of the indivdual or individuals crafting it at the time. This is not great given Slaanesh's opressive influence in 40k forcing them to curtail the use of their Psychic potential, forcing them to use the far safer but far more heavily controlled and focussed Witch paths.
At their zenith nothing was beyond them; the worlds and stars of the galaxy were mere playthings to them, to be extinguished and rekindled on a whim. Surfing solar flares was a pleasant pastime, and their very dreams could be made manifest with but a simple wish; death itself was but an inconvenience as they had already outgrown the mundane notion of mortality. They strode the galaxy as gods, and in doing so brought about their own damnation. There was nothing left to strive for, for they could already do anything that their wonderful minds could conceive of. Even after their cataclysmic fall from grace and subsequent loss of most of their creations they are still one of the most technologically advanced races in the galaxy, only surpassed by the Necrons.
In the aftermath of Fall, the many fractured and shattered fragments of the Eldar race, alike in many respects, took deviating paths when it came to their approach to technology.
The Exodites saw the creeping corruption and abandoned the rotting core of their Empire. Eschewing the conveniences of technology almost entirely, they sought out a more humble and honest life through toil and hard work. They farm and herd their livestock and live an almost entirely nomadic lifestyle as their ancient ancestors once did.
The Craftworld Eldar have an odd relationship with their tech, in some ways mirroring that of the Imperium of Man. The Craftworlds as a whole maintain the fundamentals of their post-scarcity society but actively forbid the use of much of their more high-end and more dangerous technologies. They do not fear these technologies themselves but more so how such unbridled power might affect them; they are not just in a war for the survival of their race, but for the salvation of their very souls. They look upon what befell their ancestors and what their arrogance wrought, and denounce it; a life without struggle and self-restraint is but the first footstep down the road to damnation. They don’t go as far as their Exodite kin, and still encourage innovation such as the creation of the Vyper that was created by artisans of the Saim-Hann, or the creation of the armour and weapons used by the Aspect warriors after the creation of the Path system, but they still eschew most of the technologies that allowed their predecessors to grow complacent; unfortunately for them, that also means that they are deliberately making things more difficult for themselves. However, the Eldar of Craftworld Ybraesil are noted for their balls to the wall raids of Crone Worlds for spirit stones and wunderwaffen, so YMMV. It is worth keeping in mind that Craftworlds are trading Vessels; or as they are so dismissively referred to as "Cargo-haulers" by Pre-Fall Eldar. Comparing the Craftworlds to the Pre-Fall Eldar Dominion would be like comparing a seafaring Cargo ship to the might of the US, at the height of its power and influence. Well, sort of. Cargo ship or not a Craftworld is nearly as large as a planet and seems to use compressed space technology/sorcery like a tardis. It’s more like a super cargo ship invented by gypsies to live in and travel around in trading vast quantities of whatever to countless destinations forever. It was very much not a normal vessel even by pre-Fall standards. Still a trading vessel, though.
- A good example would be: "The World of the Bloodied Sword" By Gav Thorpe that had an arsenal of forbidden weapons known as the Akliamor, hidden under the Palace of Tranquility on the planet Akliamor. Knowing that these Dark Matter doomsday weapons were no longer safe, the Eldar chose to destroy them so as to remove any chance of them ever being used again.
- Units such as the Hemlock and the Wraithguard are used only in the most dire of circumstances, as their use requires the removal of souls from their resting place within the Infinity circuit, an act that the Craftworlders view as no better than grave robbing.
- Ybraesil are going out of their way to hunt the crone worlds, for they hope to secure not only the Tears of Isha, but also ancient technologies and doomsday artefacts with which to tip the balance of fate, like the Corsairs, whose Dissonance Cannons are a mocked-together version of a weapon found on a Crone world that was capable of shattering reality itself.
- Yme-loc has recently created a new and devastating weapon powered by the souls of the dead. It can scour entire continents of life in mere minutes, the souls of the living torn from their bodies by a vast ghost-storm.
- Biel Tan are making use of a limited form of pre-fall tech within their Void Spinners. The webs unleashed by these weapons are infused with what is essentially Wraithbone nano-bots, that were previously used to create life; if you're going to create a custom planet, you might as well create custom life forms to populate it. Biel Tan has reversed the concept, and now these wraith-bots erase all life that they come in contact with, even leaving the ground they land on devoid of all life; this is especially useful against Orks, as it also destroys their spores.
- The Phoenix Lords books introduce weapons, that take the form of a piece of jewellery, that are keyed to wipe out a single form of life from a world (and we mean an entire world, not just one or two), whilst leaving all other life unharmed. Alongside these world cleansing devices, we are shown small personal shield devices that take the form of a piece of jewellery, such as a ring, brooch or necklace, that are powerful enough that it allowed them to surf, Silver surfer/Green Lantern style, on Solar Flares for fun; you could fire a Nova cannon at them and they wouldn't even care.
- During the Jain Zar book, in the Phoenix Lords series, an Eldar is shown using a common piece of tech that takes the form of a ring. The way in which it is described sounds very similar to the Kara Kesh devices from the Stargate universe.
- In the Blackstone Fortress series of stories a device called a Foryniomhu, or a Scourge was accidentally discovered. Normally placed into a ship, it was a contagious psychic weapon used to put down violent rebellions with the barest minimum effort on behalf of the Eldar. They would pop into a star system, activate the device that would release a single pulse, then leave. All those affected would become highly infectious to everyone around them, regardless of species, but wouldn't immediately show any symptoms; everyone affected would also become infectious. Within weeks their bodies would start to die rapidly, along with anyone else affected. Entire planets or even system wide civilisations would quickly collapse as the unstoppable psychic contagion spread unopposed. No one was immune to the contagion, nor was there any chance of a cure. Only a second pulse from the device could end the effects, and that would only happen when the Eldar were satisfied that any armed revolt had been quashed. This is not a biological plague but a psychic one (essentially magic) so its effect on AI is unknown, however anything with a psychic presence would be susceptible to the weapons effects. The device, ironically found on a ship called Isha's Lament, was destroyed in order to stop Chaos forces getting their hands on it: If they had it would have been an instant "I win" button for Chaos. Although deeply unpleasant, you could in theory (depending on how stubborn the opponent) put down a violent uprising with a very small loss of life; if they throw the towel quick enough you might not lose any.
- During the Heresy the Iron Warriors and Emperor's Children legions end up activating the security system of a Eldar "shrine world", which unleashes a never ending swarm of intangible warriors made of smoke and light. These constructs wield weapons that bypass the armour of the Marines, phasing through armour as if it wasn't there, and leaving corpses without a single wound of any kind. Along with these spectral warriors marched large crystalline constructs, twice the height of a Marine, whose crystal bodies formed from the surrounding walls. Their limbs pulsed with energy that they unleashed from their hands in searing beams of power, and could tear apart tanks and fortifications with ease; if not for the ascension of Fulgrim both legions would have been wiped out.
- On the Crone Worlds a device that takes the form of a publicly accessible console was found, whose function was to grant the "wishes" of the user, and make it into reality; Unfortunately the device was quickly discovered to be corrupted by the power of the Dark Prince. They had access to what is essentially artificial genies, without those pesky wish limitations or restrictions.
- The Phoenix Lord books also reveal that the weapons and armour used by the Aspect shrines have their origin in the gladiatorial arenas that came into being as the Eldar Dominion descended into hedonism, as it was from these arenas that the original Phoenix Lords armed themselves in the wake of the Fall.
- Craftworlds still make use of portable devices that can be carried around with the them, the same way you would a pocketknife. These devices can take many different forms, such as Phase crystals that allow the user to become intangible, Portable Webway Portals that can be used to open up a small temporary Webway tunnel from anywhere they want (this is especially effective when used on Jetbikes), and small crystals that turn into a glittering mist that infiltrate and override alien tech such as in 'Throne World' where a single one of these devices was able to override the technologies protecting the Golden Throne.
- They make use of cosmetic devices such as a hairbrush that can change the style and colour of their hair instantly to what ever they feel like at the time. They can also change their skin colour with such devices as easily as you can change your socks (so yes darker skinned Eldar are very much a thing). You could in theory have Eldar in every colour of the rainbow if you really wanted.
- During the Heresy John Grammaticus was given a pair of Eldar "scissors", that can cut through time and space (we're going full star vs the forces of evil here), that allowed him to appear near the ruins of Ababa hive on Terra during the siege. (What the hell Eldrad, just handing out items that have the ability to cut through time and space like they're candy; what a dick).
More cynical view could argue that they may have more similarities to dirty mon-keigh than they prefer to admit: namely, they also lost the technologies and/or psychic techiques required for creation or safe usage of these wonders. So, they may have stockpiles of these shiny toys, but if they were to use them, they will quickly run out, possibly also exploding in the process. As shown by the Fireheart, once the Craftworlds were able to get hold of one from the stockpiles of their Dark cousins they were able to replicate it without to much trouble, so depending on the level of the tech we are talking about will dictate their ability to reproduce it.
The Drukhari on the other hand still have access to much of what has been lost or hidden away by their cousins, but there are a number of reasons why they utilize such ancient technologies only rarely. Firstly, because of Slaanesh the Dark Eldar cannot function as a psychically sensitive society in the same way that other Eldar do. Therefore, after the Fall those who had made a home within the Webway and would later become known as the Drukhari were forced to completely redevelop and recreate their tech from the ground up using far more mundane and labour-intensive methods. As depraved and loathsome as they are, the Drukhari are a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of this ancient race; the weaponry manufactured within the Dark City is just as advanced and infinitely more demented as those psychically grown upon the craftworlds.
Though almost useless to them, the Drukhari very rarely trade items from their hidden, ancient hoards to their Craftworld cousins, and only then at exorbitant cost. Such artefacts include the Fireheart, which causes planets to turn themselves inside out: Valedor actually reveals the original purpose for the Fireheart was as an agricultural tool, used in the reshaping of worlds and the creation of customised solar systems, but could all too easily be turned into a tool of war. Other such artefacts from the days of the old Aeldari empire possess the power to kill stars, to suck the life force from worlds, and/or to exterminate whole races of sentient beings in mere moments. However, the Dark Eldar dare not use such artefacts openly for they would attract the violent displeasure of the Dark City at large should their existence become known.
Consider that the Dark Eldar can make use of mirrors that transport those looking into them into the heart of the nearest sun. They can put Black Holes into small ornate boxes that can be carried around in a coat pocket. They can create pocket dimensions with ease, as with Khaine's Gate, where they simply threw up dimensions for the Daemons to run through, in order to stop them from entering the Dark city (this was a temporary fix until they could fix the problem properly). They are capable of turning their enemies into living wind chimes for their own amusement; they can also turn you into a ring or a fetching brooch, that are not only immortal and near indestructible, but also in constant soul destroying agony, all whilst you are still fully conscious and aware of every horrible thing that is happening to you (don't allow yourself to be taken alive). They can steal stars and planets. Therefore, a weapon that even the Dark Eldar would keep secret and refuse to employ must be scary indeed.
In short, the Dark Eldar are tech-rich but psychically stunted, the Craftworld Eldar see the careless use and overreliance on such technologies as the road to damnation, and the Exodites will feed you to their pet t-rex if you offer them the use of a calculator.
There is another thing to consider: though the Imperium fights these different factions on a semi-frequent basis, very rarely do they ever find themselves up against any of the true high end stuff; most conflicts according to GW normally go along the lines of Eldar Guardians pointlessly firing upon terminators, doing no damage and suffering horrible casualties in return, which is just stupid when a handful of fire dragons or dark reapers will wipe them out with effortless ease (oh well, we can't have the poster boys actually go up against anything that might hurt them, now can we). Dark Eldar raids for example are more akin to rich kids going on safari (it's much more of a prestige thing, the more challenging the more they can boast to their mates/rivals/enemies when they get back) accompanied by disposable clones mostly armed with weapons (splinter weapons) designed to immobilise their targets with agonising pain, rather than to kill (in their official description they are specifically referred to as hunting rifles); no point taking the herd species back to the Dark city if they are dead. However when ever one of the more powerful relics are rolled out there really isn't much anyone can do about it. If we ignore times Astartes expeditionary fleets in the Great Crusade wiped out entire Craftworlds. And the Salamanders’ invasion of Commoragh. That said, the Eldar as allies brings in the potential of them becoming something like to the Imperium for literal techno-sorcery what the Mechanicus is for scientific technology.
You may have noticed that in most of the fluff the Eldar are described as a dying race. However, they've been slowly dying for the past 10,000 years, never seem to mind the heavy losses they take when they lose a battle, and for every one world lost there are a dozen more that pop up. The reason for this is that GW writers have different opinions on what the Eldar's "theme" is. Gav Thorpe, who did most of their older fluff, views them as dying out, and only thinks there are a dozen craftworlds with a dozen million Eldar each. However, Phil Kelly thinks their theme is "holding on just barely and losses are only minor things, keeping the important stuff" and thinks there are hundreds of craftworlds, with the average housing a hundred million to half a billion Eldar. Humorously, Matt Ward seems to agree with Phil as the theme of his Iyanden book is definitely "rising through the ashes" (maybe Phil and Matt were sick of Eldar being treated as the galaxy's punching bag in 40K).
What we're saying is: as with the other species, Craftworld Eldar do take the time to reproduce, but the open question is whether they're technically dying out or if they managed to keep a net population growth rate over the 12 millennia or so since Slaanesh came
into the picture. If the former, an intelligent species is still paying the price for the nuttery of their forebears, and will until they're totally extinct; if the latter, a bunch of racist assholes who hate you (yes, you) are on the upswing, though all possibility of a total comeback is about on the same level of probability as Nurgle taking an antibiotic bath. Between all the wars and the occasional disaster (like Kher-ys, Malan'tai, Idharae, Iyanden and Biel-tan), one would think the galaxy is waging a slow war of attrition on their species. Fluff describes them going either way (giggity).
According to the 8th edition there are several factions of Eldar:
|1. Aeldari (The Eldar race as a whole)|
|2. Exodites (Amish space elves that ride dinosaurs)|
|3. ++REDACTED++ coughCHAOS ELDARcough|
|4. Craftworlders (By comparison they can be considered the sensible Elves)|
|5. Corsairs (Space elf pirates who love to have a good time)|
|6. Outcasts (Rebellious young space elves who want to explore the galaxy)|
|7. Drukhari (Pray they don't take you alive)|
|8. Harlequins (Terrifying killer space clowns)|
|9. Ynnari (Followers of their new God of the Dead)|
These guys pop up every so often, though whether they're technically a naval splinter group of the Craftworlds or a completely separate offshoot is still an open question. Most of them are Craftworlders living the Path of the Outcast, though considering Eldar can spend many years away from their Craftworld, many may have been born in deep space as natural-born Corsairs. These Eldar live on ships and space stations until they return to their home Craftworld (if they return at all), and often raid other species' space lanes for plunder, usually in the form of people. Part of the reason Imperial commanders think Eldar are a random, inscrutable force in the galaxy is because they can't tell the difference between these guys, Dark Eldar, or a Craftworld strike force. Confusing Corsairs and Craftworld ships could be forgiven, but your intel must be pretty fucked if you confuse those ships and the ones covered in blades and similar grotesque shit. (Alternate opinion: you forget that Eldar ships use holofields as their defences. When they are not looking like a garbage hauler, they will just be a blur to both the eye and Imperial sensors. Then you factor in that Eldar ship weapons will do very similar battle damage—dark or plasma lance, etc. It's impossible to tell the difference unless you're a Magos working for an Ordo Xenos inquisitor. Then you need to factor in that Corsairs and Harlequins use BOTH Craftworld and Dark Eldar ships. It would get very confusing, very fast.)
The update to IA:11 (7th edition) added ways to play them and some nice fluff as well. The first paragraph states: "An Eldar Corsair is more akin to the Eldar before the Fall than those who now live upon the Craftworlds. Not for them are the highly disciplined paths trod by their Craftworld kin, although many may turn to them once their need to explore the galaxy has be satiated. That is, though, if they have not completely turned in their lot with their dark kin who dwell in the depths of Commorragh."
The personalities and predilections of each Corsair and the fleets they belong too are harder to group together in comparison to Craftworld and Commorragh groups which, whilst diverse, mostly stick to the accepted behaviors of their respective societies. Some Eldar corsairs become bloodthirsty individuals who fall prey to the same weaknesses that led to the Fall. Yet others may display the greatest compassion for their defeated enemies. Eldar Corsairs can literally be anything they want, from nightmarish Jack the Rippers leaving bloody trails across the galaxy, to Robin Hood-like figures, charming rogues that steal from the rich and... keep it for themselves (they're nicer, not stupid). It says a great deal that the Eldar pirates are sometimes (often?) better people than all the other Eldar...and most members of any other species. They also lack the spirit stones the Craftworlders sport, so their souls are being chewed on by She Who Thirsts, and for them dying is a pretty shitty prospect. They get along well enough with both the Craftworlders and Dark Eldar, but aren't above kicking some space elf ass for vehicles or whatever. They generally have cool pirate hideouts all over the galaxy. Some even hang out with their dino obsessed hillbilly cousins. Usually, corsairs carefully avoid pissing off the Imperium too much and make sure not to go after anything truly important, mostly because as long as they don't go overboard the Imperium would consider it more trouble than it's worth to send a task force of sufficient size after them. So, somehow a bunch of spoilt Eldar kids playing pirate for kicks is the closest thing to common sense in the setting. Wow.
Some Corsairs might have spiritstones. But which one of their cut-throat "buddies" is gonna pick it up and carry it with them until the next time they get a chance to visit a Craftworld? Maybe to use as currency for a nice new Falcon!?
The leaders of these piratical bands are dubbed Princes by the Imperium. Being Eldar and not diving off the deep end of excess is really hard without the strict stuff Craftworlders do. Princes do what they will and generally end up being obsessed with something, almost like choosing a Path that the Craftworlds do, but more self-serving and douchey. Seeing his resolve though keeps his underlings inspired and so they follow him because of sheer badassery.
The Void Dreamer is a very dangerous psyker in the Corsair ranks. They help navigate both the Webway and the Warp with Aethermancy, which is risky as hell when you are food item number one for a certain warp entity. Though they haven't died from mismanagement of their talent, they don't have the protection the Craftworlder psykers get from strict practices and cool trinkets. This brightly burning power is a beacon in the dark for Slaanesh to focus on. In game this is represented by a unique Perils of the Warp table; the worst result is the psyker being claimed body and soul by Slaanesh and becoming a daemon of Slaanesh (presumably to kill all his Eldar buddies nearby).
There was a time when Chaos Eldar existed.
When the Eye of Terror consumed the heart of the Eldar Empire not all those that found themselves trapped ended up being consumed by the newly birthed god.
How they survived is a mystery but it is likely that they either turned to one of the other ruinous powers for protection or they fully embraced Slaanesh like it wanted them to from the start; certain daemons have claimed that Slaanesh truly wants to be "loved" by its parents but upon its birth the Eldar had immediately turned their backs upon it and abandoned it (though daemons are liars and anyone who takes this without a grain of salt deserves what is coming to them)- so we can now add bad parenting to the Eldar list of dickishness (can you imagine how pissed off Slaanesh must be at seeing all the Eldar gushing over its new sibling).
Chaos Eldar, whatever their allegiance, are servants of the Chaos Gods (the info given at the time claimed that they were among the most powerful and dangerous beings at the Gods' disposal; this is of course probably no longer the case, but could be used as a handy excuse to explain away their long absence, as they would be better used as assets within the Great Game rather then pawns battling it out within the material universe) but unfortunately disappeared almost completely from the fluff for a very long time. In recent novels however, such as Gav Thorpe's Jain Zar, we are shown things like Eldar Hippies within the eye who seem to have some kind of hive mind and brainwash people into loving and serving Slaanesh, so they may make a resurgence in the newer fluff. Chaos Eldar are mentioned in the 8th edition.
In the book Rise of the Ynnari: Wild Rider, a daemon prince that's heavily implied to be of eldar origin emerges on the world of Agarimethea to combat the Ynnari and Necron forces present. A quick excerpt reads as such:
- "The first thought was that a giant aeldari warrior had stepped from legend, a gold-armoured incarnation of Khaine perhaps. Though it stood many times Yvraine's height, the daemon possessed two legs, two arms and an enchanting but otherwise normal face beneath an ancient-styled helm crowned with curling thorn-barbed stems. Slender limbs were garbed in vambraces and greaves; a breastplate adorned with perverse runes of nightmare clasped a single-breasted chest."
The potential model range could be really visually appealing; characters such as the nearly forgotten Dechala would be a great addition to any Slaanesh army.
The Black Library
- "Though I have seen within the Black Library and spoken to its most terrible guardian, I can never reveal what happened there; not to any man nor even the Emperor himself for I am so forsworn to powers beyond your knowledge. I can only say that a time of inconceivable horror is about to begin. A time when mankind with all the might of the Imperium cannot endure when the strength of the Eldar fails. Even now, our doom stalks us across the stars."
- – Inquisitor Czevak at the conclave of Har
The Black Library is hidden within the secret depths of the Webway and is the repository of all of the Eldar races Eldritch Knowledge.
It is probably the most well protected and best hidden of all the secrets of the Webway (although that one guy keeps on trying to peek through the windows before being told to "get the fuck off their lawn" by some very grumpy White Seers...and cegorach, with his really bad jokes.), holding priceless artifacts such as the only complete trans-dimensional map of the Webway and countless secrets beyond mortal understanding that have long since been forgotten.
The Library is protected by terrifying Guardians of unknown origin that make even greater daemons empty their otherworldly bowls and by The White Seers who are Eldar seers that dress all in white and apparently eclipse their kin (Eldrad not included) in their psychic might. (Not that this is saying much considering what poor Psykers Farseers tend to be). It's a bit disappointing that if the Black Library does have these guards, that they seem to be missing from any recent stories; virtually no forces but those of the Harlequins and the Ynnari are seen fighting.
The sentinels of the Black Library remain an unspoken secret, yet they are described as the most terrible of all the perils in the Webway and the most dreaded individuals among all of the Eldar kindreds (think of them as possibly the Eldar version of the Custodians). Seeing as a small group of Harlequins were capable of infiltrating the Imperial palace, getting as far as the doors to the throne room whilst killing dozens of custodians along the way, the thought that there might exist an even more elite group is scary indeed.
Only a few chosen individuals are permitted entrance, including a handful of human Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus who have allied themselves with the Eldar and their fight against the powers of Chaos. Weirdly enough, more humans than Eldar have been shown being admitted, with little to no known Eldar, not Phoenix Lords even, being shown to be allowed in.
The emergence of the Cicatrix Maledictum has damaged the Library, with whole sections falling away into the Warp and forcing the White Seers to seal parts of it away to prevent further contamination and damage.
Strangely, despite being a repository of all knowledge on Chaos and methods through which to combat them, the Black Library itself has almost never provided anything useful at all. Other than the Rose of Isha, which Yvraine had to find herself, the Black Library has never actually assisted in the combating of Chaos in any significant manner at all. That said, most of said information is so corrupting in itself that anyone who isn't totally pure is more likely to fall to Chaos than to fight it upon learning it, making questionable the purpose of the Library as it has barely ever yielded any useful information for anyone and even Eldrad has chosen to give over deadly Chaos Artifacts to the Imperium rather than surrender them to the White Seers, which either represents a strong indictment of their capabilities or, considering this is Eldrad we're talking about, is an enormous compliment of their skills. What a dick.
Overall, for the most part, the Black Library is fairly useless. Why Ahriman is so interested in it is an open question, seeing as he can already move through the Webway as effectively as any Eldar have been shown to do.
- Jain Zar-The Storm of Silence shows the White Seers commanding archaic engines dedicated to the destruction of She Who Thirsts. Their arcane machines looked more like abstract works of art than weapons, but they sent out beams of coruscating power that disintegrated daemons with but a touch and scoured forth pulses of cleansing fire. It baffles the mind considering no one is supposed to read the library and the said weapons can annihilate demons with a pulse, the guardians aren't taking any more active role in the galaxy like some fantasy fiction guardian with no purpose.
- We are also introduced to a nearly empty Library that has something called Guardians protecting it; they take the form of slender statues, each half again as tall as Asurmen, of smoke-grey silver metal. They were featureless, their faces slender inverted triangles with shallow depressions to denote where eyes would be. Their hands and feet were pointed blades that sparkled in the silvery light. The statues were impossibly balanced on bladed limbs, and although what they are capable of is not revealed, even the Phoenix Lords were subdued by their presence. The sole living Eldar still in the Library had no concern that the Phoenix lords would dare cause any trouble since the Guardians had allowed them access. They give off the same unnerving feeling that GORT from the 2008 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' remake does.
|This article or section is about something oldschool - and awesome.|
Make sure your rose-tinted glasses are on nice and tight, and prepare for a lovely walk down nostalgia lane.
According to Rogue Trader fluff which is a bit over three decades old (and has almost been entirely retconned out of existence), humans and Eldar once had a common ancestor (which doesn't make any sense since the Eldar as a race are far older than humanity, by at least 60 million years). There was a theory back in the day that both races were creations of the Old Ones (or the C'tan successfully made humans similar enough to the Eldar). This apparently made it possible for both races to interbreed and produce viable offspring. For example, it was said that Illiyan Nastase, Chief Librarian Astropath of the Ultramarines, was part Eldar. This is of course HERESY and GW has, in a rare case of good judgment, rightfully chosen to ignore this character's existence. Illiyan Nastase would later be overwritten and replaced by a new Chief Librarian of the Ultramarines, Varro Tigurius, in the more current fluff (likely because of his unusual affinity for psychic powers). In a surprise appearance a character sharing the same name features in Dawn of Fire: Gate of bones; the character is a Farseer chosen by Eldrad in order to travel and aid the Ultramarine's (apparently Eldrad has had a cordial working relationship with Guilliman even before his long stasis nap, alongside Vulkan, that's at least two Primarchs Eldrad is on good terms with currently).
More recently the Black Library novel The Chapter's Due has as a minor character Kaarja Salombar the Corsair Queen. She's variously described as "... beautiful, with palm skin and warm almond shaped eyes of striking violet... there were some who said there was Eldar blood in her veins" and "... more than a hint of inhuman Eldar to her lithe frame, and a wild mane of azure hair flowing around her shoulders". She also bags at least a trio of Ultramarines and nearly slays Cato Sicarius before getting piked by the Ultramarines 2nd Company standard, which should make her a bit of a hero to the various Ward haters. It also makes clear she is no Eldar, as GW would never allow one of their big named Space Marines to nearly get beaten by an Eldar, nor would they ever show an Eldar being such a successful fighter. Like that time a few eldar slaughtered a bunch of Custodes in a mad rush to reach the Golden Throne and supposedly deliver a message to the Emperor. Although, that is utterly unbelievable, so...
As usual there is no "confirm or deny" about any unusual heritage for a character who existed in a single novel, no part of which was ever told from her perspective and who died without a single line of dialogue. Grimdark.
Nowadays if it was still possible for Eldar-Human hybrids to be born, they would be born in Commorragh (basically take the Scriptural cities Sodom and Gomorrah, all the worst aspects of 16th century Port Royal, 19th century Singapore, Las Vegas and Mos Eisley spaceport, and throw in extra helpings of pain, rape, scum, villainy and wretched hive-ness, and there ya go). What did you think the Dark Eldar used those slaves for, making pie or HERESY?(Both). The other options is, well like Kaarja Salombar above, among the Eldar Corsairs, pirates and outcasts. Bit like the Dark Eldar only with some standards.
On the other hand, according to the Path of the Outcast, Eldar have markedly heightened olfactory senses and given their infamous state of inflated self-regard for an Eldar to naturally create a hybrid that would be the equivalent of a human screwing a dog and then hoping for puppies. In either case the pregnant female would likely regard the impending pregnancy with at least incredible disgust or utter xenophobic horror. Said child would then be hated by Humans for being the incarnation of the idea of genetic impurity and likely shunned by any Eldar for being a "lesser" by nature. Grimdark. If you read the section directly below this one another bit of horror rears its head: Eldar need to combine their DNA several times over the course of a pregnancy for the baby to be brought to term. Fine and dandy if you are assuming a mutual relationship. Less so if you consider the alternative.
On the other hand, their sense of smell might filter out most bad scents simply due to how keen it is (to keep them from distraction/insanity) and the appearance of humans might be seen as features that make men stand out as different from the eldar males’ universal appearance. Human women at least are indeed strongly attracted to those whose appearance sticks out, even when most men would think the features are a turn-off. This might even apply to scent in a caveman like way. And a civilian eldar might be more than a little impressed by the small, frail Guardsman who just beat a daemon to death with a knife and sheer absolute willpower attacking its Warp nature. Without a War Mask or decades/centuries of training.
Naturally fa/tg/uys, being essentially romantics, see things in a less insistently hateful light, and Lofn, Liivi, and Taldeer manage to thrive. Noblebright.
How alien is alien?
- "They were taller by far than most of the men present, and thin. Janus was reminded of the low gravity dwellers on Talus's Wheel - the thin, sickly ones too weak to move in anything like Earth-normal gee without an exo-skeleton - but when the strangers moved he put that thought aside. Not even the bulky cloaks could hide their grace. They did not so much walk as flow over to his table. Their movements had a liquid smoothness that was more cat than human, and put him in mind of a large predator. If a devilcat had taken on the shape of a man it might have moved like that. He was all but hypnotised by them as they flowed up to him. Suddenly they were just there, looming over him."
- – Farseer, William King
Pretty damn alien.
Don't be fooled by their anthropomorphic appearances. Eldar may look like unnaturally tall and slender humans at first glance, but are actually entirely alien. (Look, just go with it. -GW)
- The Eldar are similar to humans in body structure: they have a torso, two arms, two legs and a head upon their shoulders. They are tall, standing around 2 meters (6-7 feet) in height with longer, leaner limbs and elegant features with penetrating, almond-shaped eyes and pointy ears. Macha the Farseer from the Dawn of War series has a canon height of 2.20 meters.
- Eldar have an entirely different natural gait from humans. Their movements radiate an inhuman elegance and an almost feline-like grace. This is evident in their fighting styles and the dexterity with which they wield their weaponry.
- Eldar senses of sight, hearing, touch and smell are many times greater then that of a human.
- Eldar are extremely long-lived; their average lifespan is over a thousand years. Eldar psykers, particularly Farseers, can live even longer. (Eldrad Ulthran is 10,000 years old and still going, although he is turning into living crystal) and Asdrubael Vect is older than Slaanesh.
- Eldar may develop some fine lines and wrinkles as they get older, but they do not become decrepit the way humans do.
- They live at a pace and pitch of intensity many times greater than even the most exceptional humans.
- Their hearts beat almost twice as fast as a humans though half as strong each beat, their minds process thoughts and emotions with baffling speed, and their physical reactions are almost too fast for the human eye to follow.
- All Eldar can manipulate mental energies, but such raw mental power has its price. To an Eldar, all of life's experiences are available to a heightened degree: the intellectual rewards of study, the exhilaration of battle, and every imaginable pleasure or sensation. This potential for joy is paralleled by an equal capacity to feel despair, anger and even hate (which is what their War Masks are for). No creature, not even the Eldar, can taste such rich fruits in an uncontrolled or undisciplined way without consequence.
- The Eldar experience a much wider spectrum of emotion then humans do, they can still feel mildly amused or frustrated the same way a human would but when it comes to the upper limits of what a human can feel, the Eldar emotional scale goes even further. Imagine the saddest moment of your life, the most miserable and wretched you have ever felt, then double it.
- Eldar are able to experience the world in a very different way to humans; not only are their regular senses, such as sight, smell and hearing many time stronger then humans, but they also have additional senses, much as a shark can see electric fields. The Harlequin in Throne World for example is able feel the memories of the dead forests that had been carved into the dusty furniture within the palace, and the sickness of the world itself; the Eldar in question is disgusted by how horribly the population of the world have treated their mother planet (bloody hippies).
- Eldar skulls demonstrate unusual bone texture and their teeth are outgrowths of the jawbone.
- Eldar bones are far lighter than human bones. The texture and formation suggest solidification from some form of liquid. Complex joints and 'fused' portions retain flexibility and durability (some form of organic resin). There is no marrow analogue but the internal cavities are packed with fibrous channels of unknown purpose (possibly delivery of free-moving lymph glands).
- Their ear tips are packed with nerve-endings and are erogenous zones.
- Their skeletal structure is densely packed with a muscle-like analogue with fibres that have a spiral structure similar to a coiled spring. These muscles surround the complex columns of intermeshed segments; the entire structure suggests enormous elasticity and tolerance to movement. This physiology supports high-speed manoeuvrability.
- These 'muscles' are tightly packed and are more effective than the muscle fibres found in humans. Although they may not bulk up in the same way as humans, they are actually physically stronger pound for pound than humans.
- They have no body fat or analogue. (It doesn't seem to stop the females from having breasts though. Guess they really are superior beings).
- According to FFG in Deathwatch: Rites of Battle, a close to 7ft tall, fully armored Eldar warrior tips the scale at about 60kg or 132.277 pounds; the same weight as a 5'7" human.
- Their ribs form fused 'wings' arching from an elasticated spine.
- They possess a flexible bony 'plate' like a second ribcage beneath the abdominal muscles.
- Their inner organs are vaguely human analogues, but they demonstrate a complexity and aesthetic 'tidiness' that is just unnatural. They have pulmonary muscles that work like a human's lungs with temperature regulators (twelve, along each internal wall) and detached lymph-glands (free moving?).
- Their digestive and renal systems are just as complex as their other organs. There is no peristalsis, chemical enzymes or digestive fluids (it is unknown how digestion takes place). Waste seems 'crystalized' and is odourless (yes, we're not making this up, they actually shit diamonds).
- Eldar conception occurs over an extended period of time and requires additional genetic material from the partner or partners at preordained stages throughout gestation (there is no chance of a baby from a one night-stand).
- The Eldar brain has multiple lobes, extreme density of cerebral matter, various unknown ganglia and central ridged organs. The fundamental structure of their brains resembles humans' but are far more complex and have additional layers of an unknown composition (stratum).
- Eldar DNA has a quintuple helix structure (instead of a human's double) and twenty chemical bases instead of humans' four. Their cellular arrangement distorts in response to examination as if rearranging their chemical code (transmission of information).
- The Eldar enjoy lives unsullied by illness, frailty or disease.
- They appear to have complete control over their nervous systems and bodily functions (some form of passive Biomancy), such as consciously shutting down the nerves in damaged parts of their bodies or mentally forcing a wound to close and the blood to congeal faster to prevent bleeding out (Harlequin-The Inquistion War).
- Given time and further psychic manipulation, they can regenerate any bodily damage that they might have suffered (this includes regrowing entire lost limbs, similar to a reptile losing its tail).
- The Eldar physical condition can be heavily effected by both their mental and spiritual condition. When sad or depressed they can be seen, by observers, to physically "age", however they will quickly regain their vitality once they have pulled themselves back together; in a similar fashion, when focusing their rage and determination they can in fact grow in strength and power. When walking the path of the warrior an Eldar will develop a War Mask, allowing the Eldar to fully commit themselves without doubt or hesitation; this along with the spiritual influence of Khaine, seeing as his power is now flowing through their veins, means an Eldar warrior will be physically stronger and faster than they would be if they were walking a more civilised path; Khaine's influnce only grows stronger the closer they are to the Avatar. The Dark kin appear to physically wither the longer their souls are drained away, but quickly return to their prime upon "topping up" their tank.
- Though most Eldar do not formally develop their psychic abilities, all of them make use of telepathic and empathic communication.
- Taken as a whole, their physical makeup echoes their fall. Requiring complex chemicals to satisfy their digestive system and gene structure means they probably didn't colonize as freely across the universe as humans can; the more complex an organism is, the more time and care must go into its creation. The Eldar pay the price for their advantages, having far longer gestation periods, and requiring multiple stages of development to bring a Child into existence. It also takes them a long time (around a century or so) to finally reach physical maturity; this would go towards why the Eldar never really had a massive population (by galactic standards); when you are a nearly immortal being without any needs or wants, why the hell would you want to put yourself through dealing with a stroppy Eldar teen for forty odd years or more (human teens are bad enough)? You would think that needing to tap into psychic channels to maintain their bodies would makes them inherently vulnerable to the predations of the Warp; however, their potential origins presented in 'Wild Rider', which puts forward that the Eldar were intended to battle and contain incursions by Chaos (which to be fair they did so for 60 million years or so pretty well) would explain why they are actually highly resistant (it still happens but is very rare). And when every quirk has the potential to become a mania, and every maniac can live for ten of thousands of years, the Eldar tend to just accrue Eldorath Starbanes and Goge Vandires as a matter of course; this also works the other way around of course, and you could end up with the very opposite of the previous two mentioned (these are more of the extreme examples, but yes, it will happen at least a few time given enough time and the right circumstances).
It has long been stated by many a fa/tg/uy that the Tau are Japs in space while the Eldar are Space Chinese in that they had a more established civilization as old as the beginning of history itself, with a fucking complicated language and philosophy. Some history/culturefags strongly dispute this assertion as being simplistic and inaccurate, as the Chinese language is marked by relatively light grammar and high syllable-information density, as well as one unified set of logographic symbols (that mostly have one pronunciation). Japanese has low syllable-information density and has a sophisticated agglutinative grammar structure, like Korean, and also possesses two syllable-alphabets in addition to utilizing Chinese characters (often with multiple readings). To add to the language debate, Only War describes the Eldar tongue as 'tonal', something that is a prominent feature in the Chinese language, and is not present in Japanese. So if FFG are to be trusted, the Eldar speak a language more similar to Chinese than Japanese. Just don't ask why the Eldar religion is sorta Hindu (India) and the Tau religion is sorta Buddhist, the only difference between East and Southeast where you haven't been and where you'll never go.
The problem in this comes not just from language, but fundamentally more on how their ideologies and society is constructed. A problem with this idea is that the Tau philosophy of the "Greater Good" is practically derived from Confucius, who lived in China, while the Eldar's divisions between Aspect Warriors and Guardians can be better compared to those between Japanese samurai warriors and ashigaru peasant conscripts. Linguistically and ideologically, the Tau draw influence from Confucianism combined with post WWII Chinese-Communist culture. The Eldar is admitted by Games Workshop as being openly modeled on Japanese culture (possessing Japanese-style robes and wielding katanas and shurikens into battle) combined with space Ancient Greece (complete with the togas and the complete hubris that brought them down).
It should be noted that even Gav Thorpe, who was there at the development of both armies recognized that they were both influenced by Anime (https://gavthorpe.co.uk/2017/06/26/the-origins-of-the-tau/):
>And with them were the Tao (later Tau, now T’au) based on the underlying concept of the five elements I had originally come up with for the Shishell. I had kept my hand-typed reams of background and pencil sketches and persuaded the rest of the team that it was worth a punt, marrying some of the background to the idea of a more modern army, mecha-themed force (as opposed to the far more organic anime influence in the Eldar designs).
Then again, any debate on Weeabooism in 40k lore is meaningless because the argument is corrupted so much that anything fa/tg/uys or 4chan residents do not like can be labeled with the term once they have found something about it that vaguely invokes anime tropes... such as, for example, the Imperium's extensive use of gigantic overpowered mecha.
Seeing as they're visually very obviously inspired by the Romani people, about whose culture nobody on /tg/ knows anything and would rather die (or spend another three hours arguing which flavour of east asian they want to think they are) than bother to research, it's something of a moot point anyway.
The moral of the story is that no major race in 40K is based on a singular culture (except maybe the Orks who are cockney/football hooligan stereotypes down to the bone marrow) and insisting on referring to any of them as space-x-ethnicity only makes you look like an idiot who doesn't really get the setting.
/tg/ Feelings on the Eldar
The Eldar's arrogance and penchant for Just as planned, paired with their being used as the defenders of the status quo (see below) and the blatant favoritism they seem to get in any work featuring them (with some exceptions, such as if they're fighting Imperium Space Marines), have caused them to be the single most-hated race by /tg/. Yes, more than the space zombies and weeaboo space communists. Part of this stems from the fact that they are a hit-or-miss army, much as their counterparts were in the last edition. When they work, they work amazingly; when they don't, they tend to fail. Some argue that a lot of the hate has been due to them being insufficiently Orky, which, if true, is RACIST. It doesn't help that in the crunch, Craftworld Eldar have a bit of a history with having rather overpowered rules or codexes. This hasn't been the case with recent editions; with the rise of Space Marines mid-8E and early 9E combined with the neutering of the Ynnari and with the uninspiringly mediocre 8E Craftworld codex (a few solid or cheesy builds, but a rather large swath of price inefficient units and nothing blatantly overpowered), power gamers have more or less allowed these Space Elves to fall out of sight and out of mind.
Thankfully, some of the hate has recently started to abate, and this has everything to do with the fact that the Eldar seem to have become the whipping boys of Games Workshop. You know they hate you when you can't even win in your own codices. Also, almost every victory they get nowadays is a Pyrrhic one. Indeed, the precious few bits of focused fluff that comes out about the Craftworlders rarely provides any genuine progression, with whatever gains made by the eldar faction quickly being stripped away or tempered by extreme casualties or MacGuffin bait-and-switches that more or less invalidates the entire story in question. Matt Ward especially enjoys his crusade against the Eldar, with Avatars dying in almost every codex the guy's written, and if not that then expect similarly one-sided defeats for the Eldar. The Irish goblin C.S. Goto had a hate boner so hard for the Eldar that he did everything he could to make their race into fucking terrible awful clowns, such as but not limited to: torturing Eldar characters in the most gruesome way he could possibly describe for pages and pages and pages, making them incapable of speaking the human language, making them need to steal IG vehicles because their vehicles are terrible in comparison, and literally having human children destroy an Eldar grav tank by throwing rocks at it, then having them rape and kill the commander with a stick. This is not a joke.
Gav Thorpe, on the other hand, will fight to the death to write about anything starring the Eldar, because he just loves the elves (enough to stop them from losing in their own codex, so he's a much better kind of fan than Phil Kelly in this regard) and it's more or less agreed that he's really the only one who can portray them totally accurately since he is the Eldar expert. However, a sizable number of the older 40k playerbase hate Thorpe for turning Exarchs into watered-down Space Marine sergeants and other travesties of fluff. Eldar are also noted to have a major Asian influence, most notably from China, with their martial arts, yin-yang symbol, phoenix and dragon worshiping, cultural pride and philosophy. Pre-1945 Japan factors in as well, with an infantry standard weapon called the Shuriken Catapult, their belief in racial superiority and their ideas about being direct descendants of gods. So all in all this means that the Space Elves are the 40k equivalent of East Asia... huh.
Eldar as Defenders of the Status Quo
Games Workshop is well-known (read:
notorious infamous) for using the Eldar as a gigantic fiat that everything remains exactly as it is (which is to say, in a state of imminent-but-not-quite-here-yet disaster).
It must be noted, however, that they aren't the sole custodians of this. Necrons, pre-update, used to be pretty bad for doing this, and the Tyranids in general seem to exist to eat GW's mistakes, but both of those can be written off as the fault of the armies themselves, since the Tyranids exist only to consume biomass, and the pre-5th edition Necrons just wanted to kill everything. In short, whenever something needs to be eaten, destroyed, turned into armour paint, or involve the interplanetary equivalent of poking an electrical outlet with a fork, GW uses one of the other armies. But when a situation calls for things to remain exactly as they are, the Eldar, traditionally, get the call.
Thankfully, this is no longer the case, as the Eldar are at least partly responsible for the massive shakeup that was 8th edition. Basically, Biel-Tan is gone, the Eldar have a scary new god, and one of them does the impossible and revives Rowboat Girlyman. So much for status quo. That being said they did it during the Gathering Storm events and their actions prevented an ultimate Chaos victory and stirred the setting back to the state of (you guessed it) imminent-but-not-quite-here-yet disaster.
After the events of the Gathering Storm, Eldar storyline progression can only be summed up as stagnant. As mentioned before, the Ynnari hasn't really accomplished jack since they helped wake Guilliman from his power nap. Every step towards an awakened Ynnead they take, they pay for it in so much blood that it's a surprise Khorne hasn't tried to claim them as his own yet. A majority of the Craftworlds are still extremely hands-off in regards to the Ynnari and rarely ever offer them token support even if they share an immediate goal (like the defense of their own Craftworld from an awakening Tomb World). Some are even borderline hostile towards them. Commorragh is still in a state of complete chaos, with Vect's faction wanting Yvraine dead and bickering with Lady Malys over control of the city. Whenever any large, multi-faction gatherings occur to discuss potential long-term alliances, a big bad shows up and spoil the mood so hard that negotiations break down and nothing comes of the meetings.
With the partially awakening of Ynnead thanks to Eldrad's ritual, Yvraine, The Visarch, and the Yncarne are now gathering all the branches of the Eldar under one banner in order to "save" the galaxy (and more importantly the Eldar race from Slaanesh).
Eldrad proposed the idea of allying with the Imperium of Man to finally defeat Chaos once and for all. Even if the other Eldar weren't exactly thrilled by the idea of becoming best buddies with the Imperium, they still reluctantly agreed that they are still the best of a bad bunch, what with the other options being either the Orks or Tau. Said races were either too "young" (translated as "too naive and inexperienced to truly face the forces of Chaos"), primarily in the latter case, or simply too uncooperative and uncouth to be allied with (meaning that manipulating them from the shadows would prove more fruitful). And so Yvraine traveled to Macragge in order to provide the Imperium with a leader that could pull the shit show together and actually make it a worthwhile alliance (read: hasn't experienced ten thousand years of being backstabbed and status quo by Eldar and so is unlikely to purge them at the drop of a hat), culminating in the resurrection of Roboute Guilliman. Thus the old "defenders of the status quo" proceeded to set the wheels of story advancement in motion, at the risk of further reducing themselves to nothing but a group of proxies for the Imperium. Extra lulz when you remember the Imperium is not inexperienced in manipulating or out-dicking the Eldar, so the spelves were close to being Imperial puppets anyway.
The opening of the great rift, and the overflowing of the Warp into the material universe has had a profound effect on the powerful psychic race. Even those that do not develop their psychic powers are seeing their psychic potential leaking out in many varied ways; The Eldar are developing/rediscovering abilities that were unknown/forgotten to them before, such as Banshees', finding the wind itself fighting alongside them, and Scorpions developing a naturally accruing invisibility. As the Warp continuous to bleed through into the material universe, what unforeseeable effects will the Great Rift have upon the Eldar moving forward?
- "Once long ago we damned the galaxy.
- We thought we knew all there was to know, We believed the winds of fate blew at our beckoning whispers.
- Pleasure and enlightenment were our twin birth wrights, until our poisonous vanity ignited the stars.
- Since that day we have lived in fear of she who thirsts, the Goddess that swallows our souls.
- Yet there is a new melody in the Galaxy's great song, a harmony unheard by my people for over 10 thousand years; hope.
- I am the first to hear the voice of the whispering god, I will not be the last.
- Once long ago we damned the galaxy with a birth of a Goddess, now we shall save it with the birth of a God."
Rebirth of a Pantheon
- Never trust a god.
- You can be certain of one thing, if anything. Gods order the universe to their design and nothing else, and you can be sure that your wants and needs feature little in their agenda. For the Aeldari, distrusting gods is in their nature, having been abandoned by one pantheon of godheads and destroyed by the birth scream of a deity forged from their own wanton excess. Such experience breeds caution if not outright contempt.
- -Rise of the Ynnari- Ghost warrior, blaming gods for the consequences of the Eldars’ own actions.
As the story continues to move forward could we see the return of a small Eldar Pantheon? With the confirmation that there will be at least four daemon Primarchs for Chaos and at least four returning Loyalists Primarchs it would make sense from a balance perspective to have four different Avatars to counter. Of course, this would not be a true counter; as powerful as they may be, Avatars are just not as powerful as a Primarch, and although they stand a chance of defeating one, it is still very unlikely. The Avatars at present represent a shattered god and a god that has yet to be fully awakened, so it is not unsurprising that they are not as powerful as they would be if the gods that they represented were fully whole and awake. However seeing as Avatars have the unlimited re-spawn cheat, defeating one means absolutely nothing as they can simple rematerialize after a given time and continue to fight, which is something a Primarch can’t do... except for Vulkan. However, strategically it matters as in the time before it can be resummoned you can take an advantage of its absence. On the other hand, clap your hands if you believe combined with a Primarch’s strength of will...ehhh, he might be able to put one down for good. Also, the Death Specters Chapter’s final test to become Astartes is to die and will themselves back to life. A Primarch most definitely could do that if a mere Space Marine can.
- Ynnead is already running about. To counter Slaanesh
- Khaine reformed with a more powerful Avatar that isn't the laughing stock of the entire 40k community (unlikely). To counter Khorne.
- Isha freed. To counter Nurgle.
- Cegorach playing his shadow games. To counter Tzeentch.
Now it could just be a very weird coincidence that the last remaining Eldar Gods appear to be mirror images of the four Chaos gods but as we know there is no such thing when dealing with the Warp.
It's conspiracy time ladies and gentlemen: Could it be that the Chaos gods and the Eldar gods are two sides of the same coin and that what happens to one also affects the other? It has been asked why the sign for Chaos is an eight sided star when there are only four Chaos gods; well what if there had been more but they no longer exist (likely contenders could be Malal or one of the Chaos God of Law). And yes, the Gods of Law are specifically called "Chaos Gods" of Law. And since we know at least some of the Elves' gods from Fantasy battle exist in 40k and the intro to 40K says the Emperor rules "by the will of the gods"...perhaps there is hope still in a way (then again, Tzeentch is the God of Hope).
- The Talismans of Vaul/ Blackstone fortress look suspicious like the eight pointed star of Chaos even though they are supposedly of Eldar origin.
Before the Fall and the birth of Slaanesh there were eight main Eldar gods 1.Asuryan 2.Cegorach 3.Isha 4.khaine 5.Vaul 6.Lileath 7.Morai-Heg 8.Kurnous and an unspecified number of lesser and minor gods, for example, two of the lesser gods are called Hoec and Gea. The Minor Gods include the so called Dark Muses, who may have been originally mortals who obtained godhood. It seems rather strange that you actually end up with eight greater gods, one for each point of the eight pointed star. The Phoenix Lords are referred to as demigods, so we end up with at least four tiers of divine beings within the Eldar Pantheon, Demigods (beings like the Phoenix Lords, that haven't fully obtained godhood, but are well on their way), Minor-Gods (possibly Mortals that have obtained godhood; you could even think of them as something like daemon princes), lesser-god (potentially something similar to the Aelven Pantheon in Age of Sigmar; Malerion, Teclis, Morathi etc) and greater-god. Eldanesh and Ulthanesh may have fallen into the Lesser-god tier, as Eldanesh was able go toe to toe with an unshattered Khaine, although it is made clear that Eldanesh knew that he could not win this fight.
What if when Slaanesh consumed most of the Eldar pantheon the Chaos gods that acted as their doubles were also destroyed alongside them. This would go a long way to explain why Nurgle interfered and saved Isha and why Khorne fought to save Khaine; they were saving their own arses (except for Tzeentch as Cegorach had already escaped, so there was no need to interfere).
The remaining Chaos gods have each in their own way protected their counterparts in order to save themselves and have grown bloated with power as a result of the now smaller group of gods (essentially they are now getting a larger piece of pie as there are fewer people to share it with).
The only one without a direct double was Slaanesh, but with the creation of Ynnead that has all changed.
For what ever reason it would appear that Isha may be becoming more active. When The Great Unclean One known as Rotigus rambles from one maiden world to the next upon the Eastern Fringe, he causes the worlds to rot. The masques of the Frozen Stars appear and fight their way to the site of the planets’ world-spirit shrines, were they perform dances of such startling beauty that all who see them are moved to floods of tears. As the Aeldari weep, the rains falling from the skies transform from diseased filth to cleansing waters that glow like moonlight. Wherever these purifying monsoons sweep over the landscape, the power of Nurgle is undone and the corruption reversed. Rumour spreads through the Exodite tribes that it might be possible that their combined sorrow might somehow, eventually, be able to release the goddess Isha from her imprisonment within Nurgle’s foetid manse. Basically the more you kick her kids the more determined she is to break free and kick your ass.
Rise of the Ynnari- Wild Rider raises the possibility that when the Great Enemy attempted to devour the aeldari gods, not all were consumed, and that if Khaine was shattered into the avatars of the Bloody-Handed then other fragments might have survived. A piece or pieces of every god scattered throughout the aeldari, born again and again into mortal form just as the souls of the aeldari themselves. Yvraine ponders that Ynnead is, in a way, the incarnation of Isha, Morai-Heg and Lileath summed, what if the croneswords were the means, not the end? That perhaps the fifth cronesword would not be revealed to her until the reborn pantheon of old had been assembled.
Possible members could be:(note there may be more than one for each god)
- Yvraine- Ynnead’s aspect of the moon. the mortal incarnation of Lileath?
- Eldrad- The Eye of the Fates Unseen. Could he be the Crone?
- Meliniel- Now Kaela Mensha Khaine’s greatest avatar and bearer of the actual blade Anaris. Khaine for obvious reasons.
- Indraesci Dreamspear- the Harlequin, the embodiment of the Laughing God. Cegorach. Lady Malys is also a possibility, what with her now having Cegorach crystal "heart" within her body. Or of course there is also Sylandri Veilwalker; can't count her out.
- Iyanna Arienal- The symbol of her craftworld was the flame of Asuryan.
- Hoec- one of her current companions. Kurnus? Illix Nightspear is also a real possibility too.
- Gei- another of her current companions. Isha?
In addition, an insight into the true nature of the relationship between Slaanesh and Ynnead is hinted at, which may potentially hold some serious ramifications for any story moving forward. It would appear that Ynnead was the one that was meant to have be born to the Empire of old, but it's birth had been corrupted and twisted to the point that Slaanesh was the one that burst into divine being instead. Slaanesh may well have had a hand in it's own creation, with the Cults of pleasure paving the path for their master to come into foul existence. If true then Slaanesh and Ynnead are truly twin Gods/Goddesses, with Slaanesh being a horrifically twisted version of Ynnead; or perhaps they are actually two parts of a single whole, two imperfect sides of something far greater than either one individually. Ynnead may very well be a "redo" for the Eldar, a chance to correct the mistakes and sins of the past; even if they all die they may in death find their salvation.
Or, the two interacting will go full grimdark “Oh, shit” for everyone. Because 40K.
How this plays out, if at all, will certainly be interesting.
Relationship with the Imperium of Man
- "Make no mistake mon-keigh, we do not fight for you, or for your corpse-Emperor. We are allied here today because destiny has seen fit to bind our fates together. We do not relish that our futures are intertwined, but if you would live to see another day, then you will do as I say. Order your soldiers to cease firing their primitive artillery upon the ridge line, for it is there the Asuryani warhost will arrive. My kin will drive the tainted ones back towards your lines, where you would do well to be prepared. And please, above all else, stand downwind from me."
- – Beac-dair, Ranger of Alaitoc, liaison to Imperial forces
The relationship between humanity and the Eldar is complicated to say the least, varying dependent on sector, the local culture (of both parties), the specific needs of each side at the time of contact, and (at least partially) undisclosed fluff concerning human-Eldar relationships during the Dark Age of Technology.
Due to the variability of these factors, the Eldar are one of the only races for whom there's no consistent pattern of relationship with the Imperium; they can be hated enemies and invaders, desperate allies against a greater foe, marauding pirates, begrudgingly necessary trading allies, and everything in-between. For every Imperial world sacrificed to save the lives of a handful of Eldar, for every grand scheme orchestrated to dick over the Mon-Keigh and put them in their place, another world is saved by their timely intervention or an Inquisitor made aware of the existence of a terrible threat by their warning. Where the Blood Ravens go to war with them at one time, at another the Grey Knights return the salvaged spirit stones of Malan'tai to Iyanden and lay the Craftworld to rest by way of a solar viking funeral.
During the Great Crusade the official policy of the Imperium, as mandated by the Emperor, was to kill Eldar, and individual attempts to contact them by Primarchs such as Fulgrim were protested by their men as breaches of Imperial policy. This could be seen as a (very warped and twisted) justified course of action during this time given the numerous human worlds ravished throughout and after the Age of Strife. Although there are no actual records of any Eldar being involved in these actions there was still Eldar radicals, who during the twilight centuries of their empire sort out conflicts among the primitives, as a form of entertainment; then there's also the proto-Dark Eldar who were already doing what they do so well, so there is a lot of room to play with; also potentially the first appearance's of something similar to the Corsairs, formed from those seeking out a more thrilling form of entertainment (ultimately these potential incidents are down to the actions of individuals, not the Eldar dominion itself). Also, the Emperor would no doubt have been fully aware of what causes The Fall and probably deeply hated them for the Age of Strife as well as concern that the Eldar species existing would keep empowering Slaanesh. Remember that he had a very poor understanding of Chaos at the time; although it has been mentioned that both Eldrad and the Emperor had known each other, although they had some kind of falling out, so lots of room to play with there. Earlier lore stated that the reason the Emperor waited so long to Launch his crusade, was that he needed for the Eldar to fall from their position of dominance in the galaxy, if they were still a galaxy spanning superpower then his crusade could never succeed. The Craftworlds themselves, although they would have no need to come into conflict with humanity over resources, as they are completely self sufficient, may have come into contact with the expanding human realms during their exodus; these interactions may have been humanity primary source on contact with the Eldar species. What ever actually happened during the Age of Strife, whenever they encountered each other during the Heresy and beyond the inevitable always happens, such as the time when the Salamanders, Iron Hands and Death Guard sought to rescue the enslaved human population of an Exodite World. It turns out that the Exodites had rescued and sheltered the human population from raids by their Dark kin. After realising their mistake did the Imperials seek out a possible peacefu- nope, instead they slaughtered the human population, seeing them as having been corrupted by their xenos companions and turned the world to ash. Lorgar also encountered a fledgling Craftwold during the Great crusade, he was invited aboard as a guest where they discussed, among many other things, the nature of the warp and it's dangers. Lorgar and his legion then thanked them by killing them all and reduced their home to rubble. Which is unsurprising given how “my thinking is bestest” Lorgar was/is. Then again, one must remember that the Humanity was recovering from a horrid period of downfall, where they found themselves assaulted by both aliens and humans alike. The realms of Humanity consumed themselves, and due to the horrors humanity experienced during this time humanity become something far less them what they had been. The result of such dickish behaviour, whether it be inflicted by others or entirely self inflicted, was the roots for mankind becoming outright genocidal towards everything nonhuman. We are not saying that it was right or wrong, just that it was natural, due to situation at time. Lorgar thought that they had nothing to offer as they had been the catalyst for their own fall from grace, and given that the Emperor had standing orders to exterminate the Eldar, who would trust them about things related to the Warp after they broke reality? well it's called hindsight and learning from experience, sometimes learning from someone else's mistakes can actually be useful in not doing it yourself.
In a wider perspective, the Eldar-Imperial relations is a case of each side using each other for their own ends. The Eldar manipulate humans (and everyone else in general) for their own survival, they'd happily put human lives and worlds to the torch if they needed to avert some grave threat like an Ork WAAAGH or Tyranid fleet, but also aren't completely above saving said lives and worlds if it meant it'd be a more efficient way to keep them around. Likewise, humans would scream "burn the witch" the moment they see the Eldar due to xenophobia and well because the Eldar don't exactly have a great track-record with the Imperium, but more open minded and/or pragmatic individuals aren't above making a truce with the Eldar if it meant stopping a common enemy (like say, the forces of Chaos). For example; the Grey Knights returning the soul stones of the Malan'tai craftworld is better than destroying them since that would do nothing but royally piss off the Eldar and empower Slaanesh, plus it also be used as a bargaining chip with the Eldar during negotiations, something valuable when trying to broker a fair deal with an utterly egotistical race who see you as mere animals. Of course as humans are an equally egotistical race who see all other races as beneath them in the setting (While Eldar considers other races to be a vermin, humans actually TREAT other races like vermin, which includes, *ahem* Routine Cleansings (T'au were candidates to this, but unfortunately for everyone, they survived)), both groups are on equal footing here.
There are lots in common between the Eldar and Mankind, more so perhaps, than any side would like to admit. This also includes being responsible for the crapsack world that they live in. Both are psychic races and therefore much responsible for the happenings in the warp. While Eldar having much more effective psykers on average, the most powerful ones are human, such as Emperor, Magnus, Lorgar and so on. This also means that their actions have led to the empowerment of malign forces in the warp: Eldar due to their collective sins and Mankind for generally being untrained retards and arrogant smartasses who think that they know better. So both have their fair share in making things worse for everyone, including themselves. To put it simply, although neither race will ever trust the other and they're theoretically at war, they still share by far the most in common with humanity out of any of its competitors. Against the pressure of a cold and hostile universe, both sides are, at times, willing to pretend just for a second that they could put aside their differences and be allies. Extra irony points that Eldar and humans that work together for extended periods of time often end up with mutual respect for each other and even friendship. Which might even be part of why both groups avoid that as much as possible.
Since the events of the Gathering Storm, however, the Ynnari have managed to forge an alliance with the Imperium. Admittedly, this isn't a formal alliance so much as a tacit acknowledgement that neither of them can afford to waste time killing each other with the Ruinous Powers on their respective doorsteps, but it gets the job done more often than not. Some of the Craftworlds such as Ulthwe have followed suit, again with the justification that aiding the lesser races will improve the likelihood of them returning the favor in the future. While the space elves aren't happy about it any more than the Imperium would be (if it was known to the Imperium as a whole and not just a few individuals within it), they are slowly coming to terms with the fact that they have no choice but to swallow their pride to survive.
TL;DR: In the current time period, being two of the most arrogant, egotistic and xenophobic races in the galaxy, where one sacrifices millions of innocent others to save a few of their own and another is exterminating millions of innocent lives and entire planets on a nearly daily basis, Eldar and Humans get along with each other quite well 40k. Perhaps because they're the only factions out there doing terrible things to survive whereas everyone else is doing it because they are either naive and greedy, stupid and blindly aggressive, insane, sadistic, or just plain evil. Also because the two species have far more in common to the point of hitting uncanny valley, than either side would like to admit. (Yes, this includes being responsible for ruining everything for everyone with birth of Slaanesh and Horus Heresy respectively.)
Perhaps the dick put it best:
- ‘You wish to be free of the influence of my kind, You see the armour as a gaoler holding you hostage to our whims. Know this – the fates of humanity and aeldari are bound together. Either both species will survive, or neither will. Your Emperor understands this. There are greater enemies than the primordial annihilator. In the times to come, you will see. The struggle is only beginning. The old war returns. Remember this conversation, and reconsider carefully, on the day realisation comes, whether you wish to stand alone.’
- -Eldrad Ulthran speaking to Guilliman, The Armour Of Fate, underestimating humanity for the zillionth time.
Not to take away from what has been mentioned above but the Eldar as a whole don't actually hate humans; they may see them as lesser beings, but they still see them as being people despite the commonly held belief to the contrary. Characters such as Lyanne have expressed that although she finds humans to be brutal and disgustingly violent, she just can't bring herself to hate them as they could still be better (and it’s not like the Imperium gives its people a good environment to become diplomatic); she has gone out of her way to save at least one human world from the Tyranids even though it earned her the attention and enmity of the Hive Mind itself. Eldrad himself has even admonished Exarchs for expressing too strong a negative view of humans; for every potential action that has cost the Imperium, he has also saved it, such as during the War of the Beast, when he created a calm path through the Warp that allowed the forces of The Last Wall Protocol to safety reach Terra in time to defend it. As mentioned the Craftworld Eldar, as a whole, don't actively hate humans. For most Eldar their feelings run from complete indifference to mild curiosity; some may go as far as to feel sorry and even pity for the state humanity now finds itself. This of course will differ from individual to individual and faction to faction, as should be expected from a species spread so thinly across the galaxy.
There is a clear distinction that the Eldar make between the likes of humans and Orks. The killing of Orks is considered something closer to pest control, the exterminating of a very dangerous and violent plague upon the galaxy (something the Orks might be proud to be called); the death of humans however is considered to be the killing of a fellow sentient being (lesser sure, but still considered to be a person whose killing can still be called murder and apparently matters enough to be potentially traumatizing to Eldar lacking a War Mask). However it is also this distinction that has earned the humans the dubious honour of being referred to as mon-keigh, as the Orks actions are more like a force of nature; it is who they are, as opposed to humanity who have a choice, but have through their deeds and actions earned the title.
When the Eldar take action within the wider galaxy it is always to achieve a specific goal or task; this can take the form of preventing an object of importance from falling into the wrong hands, preventing the immediate loss of Eldar lives, or setting up future events to better protect what remains of their kind. Once they have achieved their objectives the forces assembled will leave and return to the Craftworld of their origin.
These actions are almost never done with the notion of violence for violence's sake, as most Craftworld Eldar have a very negative view of Khaine's work (his very domains putting war with murder and no concept of honor being part of it), with many of those who have walked the warrior path considering their actions during this time nothing short of murder, especially when they end up peeking behind their War Masks; when they confront what has been locked away behind their Masks, they are horrified by what they have done in order to protect their species from the dangers of the galaxy.
Like with most things, the idea of painting a whole species with the same brush is ridiculous. For every Eldar that demonstrates the more negative tropes there are just as many who demonstrate truly good and heroic traits, such as the Harlequin who refused to leave the humans enslaved within an Ork encampment, freeing them from their cages despite the action costing precious Eldar lives, or characters such as Asurmen who has become a legend and saviour-like figure among alien species across the galaxy including many imperial worlds spanning the entire breadth and length of the Imperium.
Even Biel-Tan (who are viewed by most other Craftworlds as something akin to xenophobic zealots) will still follow, when dealing with Maiden Worlds, the common practice of giving an official warning to anyone foolish enough to settle on one, and are even known to help evacuate the human populations who are sensible enough to listen by placing them in suspended animation on their own ships in order to move them to a different habitable world. This implies human populations agree often enough to be worth the effort and that the Imperium doesn’t execute them for it unlike almost any other alien interaction.
Official Imperial diplomats have even been periodically granted permission to live aboard Craftworld Iyanden for a time (there may have also been an Inquisition base in that Craftworld), where they will be hosted by an Eldar Familym, such as Ieldan Soecr (from the 3rd edition) who spent time on Iyanden, even writing a book about her time there. Grease Monkey of the Last Chancers earned his place by stealing the transport of an Iyanden ambassador currently visiting an Imperial world. The Eldar actually make use of diplomacy when they can (though actual official diplomacy such as the above is solely done by Craftworld Iyanden), such as when an Imperial governor got his hands on some soul stones that currently held the souls of dozens of Eldar, turning them into a fancy piece of jewellery. The Eldar sent a diplomat to get them back, however like in most instances of dealing with the Imperium, the governor didn't listen and instead had the diplomat killed in order to add another shiny stone to his collection. This of course didn't end well for him as the Dark Kin are said to have given extra careful attention to his care. The irony is that if the Eldar didn’t get him first, the Inquisition certainly would have been a tad upset about using alien artifacts, let alien souls, as jewelry.
The interaction between the Imperium and the Eldar becomes especially complicated when you start looking into the different factions of Eldar currently at large in the galaxy. This is further complicated by the fact that the Imperium very rarely ever listens (the idea of a mind too small for doubt is very appropriate here), usually with the excuse that aliens alway lie even when they are actually telling the truth. This state of mistrust usually has the Imperial forces constantly expecting a sudden betrayal, which normally ends with the Imperium turning on their so called allies before they themselves can be betrayed, which clearly doesn't bode well for any future interactions.
This is not to claim that the Eldar are the "good guys"; no one in the setting is, although there are no "good guys" there are still "good people" to be found on all sides. The Craftworlds are just as capable as anyone else of committing actions that could easily be considered evil (even if born out of necessity), but within 40k are guilty of nothing the likes of the Imperium, are not also equally guilty of; to try and claim either have the moral high ground is just funny, and a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black.
If the go to claim against them is that they are "arrogant" then that's pretty good going by 40k standards, as that can also be equally applied to every other faction in the setting as well.
An important thing to keep in mind is that any interaction heavily depends on how well informed the individuals involved are. Inquisitors and rogue traders are known to associate with members of the Eldar race, many having in some way earned a "life debt" from the Eldar involved; the Eldar will honour this Life debt until it has been repaid in full, with many of these bonds developing into genuine friendships, such as in the audiobook Corsair where every time the crew was about to enter a dangerous situation the human captain would tell the Eldar corsair that he was free to leave, as she had already freed him from his debt a hundredfold already, to which he simply replied that it wasn't up to her when the debt had been paid. The Ordo Xenos in particular have an oddly close relationship with the Eldar (some would say heretically close), and entire navigator houses are known to owe great debts to the Eldar species. Even the Grey knights have shown an oddly close working relationship with the Eldar, going so far as to stand guard over Soul Stones until the Eldar are able to retrieve them; they actually seem to work better with the Eldar then they do with other forces of the imperium. They have even helped the Dark Angels in their hunt for the Fallen and were actually the ones who stood guard over Luther's black blade; until an interrogator chaplain stumbled upon it, thinking it to be the Lion sword; it was then returned to the depth of the Rock and locked away safely (short story the "black pearl").
Although the official policy of the Imperium is to hate and despise Xenos, those at the very top are more inclined towards actions that would see anyone else burned alive, due to it being in their best interests to keep the masses ignorant and blindly dogmatic, instead feeding the public nothing but Imperial propaganda to better control their thoughts and minds, whilst at the same time making backroom deals with the very people that they are telling the citizens of the Imperium to hate and loathe (just like in real life then).
As a general rule, the Eldar are a fast army of specialists. Each unit is engineered for a particular style of fighting but is nigh useless outside of that assigned role. For example, Dark Reaper squads (currently broken) are known to cripple, if not wipe out completely, entire squads of Space Marines in a single volley. Conversely, they are incapable of moving and shooting (but now they can, lulz) and are comparable to Guardsmen in close combat (though they don't wear wet cardboard boxes for armor). Usually, everyone in an Eldar squad has the same gun and the squad as a whole aims for one goal, as opposed to squads of dudes each toting a different gun for a different kind of foe. This can help new players by not forcing them to keep all of a squad's weaponry in mind, but it also requires you move the right squad for the job to the right place, which can be tactically challenging. An ill-positioned Eldar squad has a greater chance of doing nothing than those of other armies. Some units, like Jetbikes, overcome this disadvantage with superior speed and mobility. This is huge in a game where most of the missions are about capturing objectives. If you are the kind of elf who likes it when a plan comes together, you might be tactical enough to lead the Eldar to their victories upon the battlefield.
With their new, updated codex, the Craftworld Eldar are given a firm footing in the game to compete with or dominate their numerous foes through their increased special abilities, units’ tactical applications and general ability to put shurikens into things and make those things fall down. The newer codex makes units even more points-efficient in doing their jobs. Tactical blunders will see your army turned into rainbow confetti, but if you can get the right part of your Eldar army fighting the right bad guys, you can ruin Christmas every time.
Eldar are almost universally Fleet, pack high Leadership, high Initiative and good overall stats (apart from defenses, with some notable exceptions, such as Wraith constructs), their accuracy is good, their special abilities are rich and useful and their armies need never run the same trick twice. Prior to 8th edition, their Battle Focus ability let them choose to take a run action either before or after shooting, for free, a benefit that allows them to become more mobile than the competition by far. These days, their Battle Focus simply allows them to advance with no accuracy penalties on non-heavy weapons, a notable nerf to be sure, but still a very usable perk that ensures your infantry and bikers can still run faster than everyone else and still land their shots. Almost all of their vehicles are skimmers or flyers; those that aren't can Deep Strike or outflank; and they have three different flavors of jump troops and fast-as-hell Jetbikes. Eldar look good when they fight and often kill their enemies in style.
Although they have a somewhat justified reputation for being "OP", it's a bit more complex then it looks at first sight. The Eldar have for the duration of most editions of the game enjoyed a position among the more powerful codex's, alongside others such as the Space Marines; a position that many such as the Orks or tyranids would love to be able to claim. This reputation normally takes the form of one or two units in each edition vastly overly performing whilst the rest of the codex ends up being a bit rubbish; this leads to Eldar players spamming the same units over and over again. For example, whilst the majority of the codex in 7th was decently balanced, a small handful of over performing units tainted it for everyone; Jetbikes all armed heavy weapons as troops, Wraithknights being at least 70-100 pts too cheap and the abundance of D-level weapons ruined what was a mostly well put together codex.
In summary, when an Eldar army is functioning as it should, it is difficult to stop. For this reason, opponents hate them. On the other hand, the army falls apart if their specialized units are outside of their element (Dark Reapers in a fist fight or Howling Banshees in a shoot out, for example) or fail to get the first strike in. They are devastating if they set up, and terrifying if allowed to stick around, but the presence of one Manticore Rocket Launcher, Whirlwind Artillery Tank or Defiler can collapse an entire Eldar battle line should the space elves not fight with care and foresight. Or go second.
With the coming of the 8th edition the Eldar have experienced some rough waters (there won't be many who will shed any tears over this); although they met with initial success with the likes of the combination of Dark Reapers and the 'Strength from Death' rule, most of their special rules from previous editions that they relied on to keep them on par with marines have been stripped away and many of the changes to the core rules, such as the loss of initiative, restrictions to Psychic casting and changes to how WS and BS work have left many units (especially melee units) far weaker then they have been for a longtime (Howling Banshees especially have become a complete burden to anyone brave enough to try and make them work).
As 8th has continued to progress the Eldar army has seen a shocking transformation, turning from a small expensive army of specialized elites to an expensive specialized horde army. This added to the continued process of taking every unique unit within the Craftworld codex and handing them wholesale over to the Imperium (and, of course, the Imperial versions are both cheaper and stronger than the originals) has left a nasty bitter aftertaste. Primaris Marines in general have led Space Marines away from the general Jack-of-all-Trades flexibility that formed the bread and butter of old marines in exchange for dedicated, specialized units that have few (if any) special weapons that differ greatly from the rest of the standard squad (a parallel borderline identical to Craftworld Aspect Warriors). This has become even more apparent with the coming of 9th edition and the introduction of Primaris Marine Eradicators, Space Marines armed exclusively with suped up Meltas who excel at devastating heavy armor (literally Space Marine Fire Dragons, only with much better rules for virtually no difference in cost) and the Pteraxii Skystalkers, Adeptus Mechanicus flying infantry armed with very shooty rifles and mortal wound dealing grenade packs (Skitarii Swooping Hawks, but of course better in every regard).
Just to be clear, the current Craftworld codex is still Pretty strong against 90 percent of the other codex' currently in use; you can still have a fun and enjoyable game against most none Marine armies, against the current strength of the Marine codex and supplements however they are getting stream rolled, and if the Eldar codex can't compete then what hope does anyone have. Here's hoping the possibility of a new series of codex' will finally provide an edition where all armies can play on the same field.
Note: although not much can be done from a competitive game front when it comes to casual play the community can still work together to try and makes things less uneven. No one wants a situation where an army is shunned because of factors beyond their control, it's not the players fault. Have a couple of games to see what works or what doesn't, talk with your local games group and discuss what can be done to make sure the experience is an enjoyable one; no one wants any player to not get to use their new goodies but perhaps Marine players, for the time being, wouldn't mind ignoring their Combat and Super doctrines whilst playing against none marine lists for an example. This is not to single out Marines, but a general rule; don't let foolish rule choices by GW course unwanted tension between different player factions, talk to each other and decide what sort of compromise's can be reached, that can ultimately benefit both sides involved.
With the arrival of the new Necron and drukhari codex in 9th edition things are starting to look a bit more positive. Both codex seem to be (for the most part) fairly balanced against the current power level enjoyed by other factions that have received their new edition overhaul; hopefully this trend will continue and everyone will get a seat at the big players table; just be mindful of those that are still stuck playing older edition's.
Lameness, Courtesy of Games Workshop
Eldar recently were dethroned as the punching bag of Games Workshop. Until the most recent codex (Newcrons), the Eldar suffered repeated and humiliating defeats. Every single defeat involved overwhelming odds in favor of the Eldar, with gigantic wraithbone constructs and burning shards of war gods being overwhelmed by [insert faction GeeDubs is trying to sell this time]'s broken pinky finger.
Let's make a list here:
- Fulgrim - Big Eldar force including a fucking Avatar and Wraithlords is killed by a small detachment of the Emperor's Children (the Avatar is strangled to death by Fulgrim because he's distracted by his glowy Laer blade. I'm not making this shit up.)
- Codex: Chaos Daemons - Aside from being a nifty reference to Ker-Ys/Ker-Is, an Avatar is possessed by a Keeper of Secrets and helps wipe out a Craftworld.
- Codex: Tyranids - Avatar issues a challenge to the Hive Tyrant leading the assault on Iyanden. Apparently it doesn't work and it literally gets stampeded to death by 12 Carnifexes. What the fuck. (To be fair, it is 12 Carnifexes and the Avatar took four down with it.) Oh, and Farseer Kelmon dies, despite neither the Avatar nor Kelmon dying in older iterations of Iyanden's invasion. Oh, and the Doom of Malan'Tai singlehandedly eats an ENTIRE CRAFTWORLD.
- Matt Ward's Cornucopia of Wank - From the Avatar getting his chest punched in by Papa Smurf, other hilarious things like Wraithlords being killed by Sergeants and god knows what, Matt Ward's Necron Codex featuring a fucking retarded Alaitoc Farseer who fucks over every engagement he commands and gets 'captured' in the White Dwarf issue, I don't even know where to start.
- Ironically, Ward is also the only one who writes the Eldar being badass, including a bit about Biel-tan beating two whole Imperial sector fleets and ten Space Marines chapters. It seems that only his love for his Ultrasmurfs can surpass his compulsion to make the Eldar actually, y'know, even remotely competent.
- Dawn of War: Dark Crusade has the Blood Ravens wipe out all of Taldeer's distractions and then kill her, with their heretical Chapter Master gaining a fancy new piece of bling by taking her spirit stone (or perhaps she escaped and Kyras only managed to kill a body double, depending on who you listen to).
- In Dawn of War: Soulstorm, Vance Motherfucking Stubbs wipes the Ulthwe forces on Kaurava III out wholesale and used his sheer manliness to make Caerys join his harem.
- Dawn of War II has the Eldar farseer acting like a complete and total DUMBASS from the moment you take control of Force Commander Hairgel/Aramus. While things started off good with the Eldar making the Orks and Space Marines do the work for them, Farseer Ree-t'ard then decides to antagonize the Blud Rehvens for literally no reason, resulting in a total of 11 marines, 3 scouts, and a dreadnought killing somewhere in the ballpark of
hundredsthousands of Eldar and a fucking avatar.
- Imperial Armour 11: Doom of Mymeara (which sounds like a Playschool TV show puppet - way to go on the Craftworld name GW) - Again, droves of Eldar in the midst of snotting Imperial Guard and Space Wolves from here to Jupiter, somehow get their collective arses handed to them. This is achieved by some fresh out of training/wet nosed/"tea bagging my comrades for the Emperor is my past time" IG commander, pulling a victory out of his chocolate starfish - with collective precision that makes the Dome of Seers predictive foresight look like your average crystal ball psychic con artist.
- The Battle of Orar's Sepulchre: Seeing yet another Avatar of Khaine die and the combined might of both the Alaitoc and Iyanden Craftworlds defeated, with death tolls so high that the Space Marines create barriers out of the enormous mounds of Eldar dead
- Yme-Loc raided: The Craftworld with the explicitly most powerful vehicle force of all Craftworlds getting bitchslapped by the Mechanicum who land on it, beat it up and raid it at their leisure. Although considering the AdMech tends to whip out whatever supertech they need when they need it, this might be forgivable as it was a smash-and-grab.
- Alaitoc's near death: Despite being one of the five most powerful Craftworlds, Alaitoc is almost completely outclassed by a small Imperial Crusade including only one Chapter of Space Marines in support.
(And let's not forget that all of these instances are pretty recent fluff, from 4th-5th edition.) Case in point, when GeeDubs needs to give some character or unit or faction some street cred, they just go "he killed an Avatar, so that's good enough." As if the prevailing logic wouldn't be; "gee, if so many things can kill the Avatar, isn't it kind of a lame thing to kill anymore?" Regardless, GW sucks at writing decent fluff (with a few exceptions).
Fortunately, the new punching bag has been changed to the Tau, who for reasons uncertain, don't seem to mind the change of pace- Uh, don't you mean Sisters of Battle? The ones who, you know, not only die in droves, but usually at the hands of their own alleged allies? No, we mean the Tau. The ones with two traitor legions gunning for a portal into the heart of their territory and the species that retardedly infected one of their worlds with Gene-Stealers to see what would happen. Eldar still lost most times they were mentioned in the codex, though.
Notable Eldar Characters
|Eldrad Ulthran||Craftworld Ulthwé||Aeldari /Ynnari||Saviour of the Eldar. Former High Farseer of Ulthwé. Amongst the greatest and most powerful of the Eldar Seers. A dick.|
|Yvraine||Craftworld Biel-tan||Ynnari||Emissary of Ynnead. Herald of the Eldar God of the Dead. Helped bring Guilliman back into the game. Wields the Crone Sword Kha-vir the Sword of Sorrows.|
|The Visarch||Craftworld Biel-tan||Ynnari||The Sword of Ynnead. The mortal champion of the Eldar God of the Dead and Yvraine’s bodyguard. Bad at his job. Wields the Crone Sword Asu-var the Sword of Silent Screams.|
|Autarch Meliniel||Craftworlds||Ynnari||Yvraine's top commander, made his first appearance "Ghost Warrior: Rise of the Ynnari". After the Ynnari deafeat the Warshard (a more pure incarnation of Khaine) he absorbs it and is transformed; he and the Warshard become one, and he can now Hulk out, and become an all new and improved super-Avatar of Khaine. It is still an Avatar of Khaine though, so don't expect much.|||||
|The Yncarne||The Infinity Circuit||Ynnari||The Avatar of Ynnead. The physical manifestation of the awakening Eldar god of the dead. Wields the Crone Sword Vilith-zhar the Sword of Souls.|
|Avatar of Khaine||The old Eldar Empire||Aeldari||The Avatar of Khaela Mensha Khaine (also known as the Bloody-Handed God). The physical manifestation of the Shattered Eldar God of murder, War and Fire. Memetic loser.|
|Asurmen||The old Eldar Empire||Aeldari /Ynnari||Asurmen, the Hand of Asuryan. Was the first Phoenix Lord and founded the Dire Avenger Aspect and the Path of the Warrior. Before he became Asurmen he was a bit of a lazy slacker who didn't take anything seriously.|
|Jain Zar||The old Eldar Empire||Aeldari /Ynnari||Jain Zar, the Storm of Silence. Was Asurmen's first student and loyal companion. She's the founder of the Howling Banshees Aspect. In her youth she was very similar to Lelith Hesperax.|
|Baharroth||The old Eldar Empire||Aeldari /Ynnari||Baharroth, the Cry of the Wind. Was the founder of the Swooping Hawks. Noted by Asurmen as the best of all his students. Baharroth's final death will come during the Rhana Dandra where his final sacrifice will bring about the ultimate salvation of the Eldar.|
|Karandras||The old Eldar Empire||Aeldari /Ynnari||Karandras, the Shadow Hunter. The Phoenix Lord of the Striking Scorpions but not their founder. He started out not as the pupil of Asurmen but of Ahra.|
|Fuegan||The old Eldar Empire||Aeldari /Ynnari||Fuegan, the Burning Lance. The founder of the Fire Dragons and the patron saint of overkill. Culling the enemies of the Eldar one by one until their deaths form an unbroken chain of retribution stretching across the universe. Using this chain Fuegan intends to bind the Dragon at the end of days and that it will be Fuegan who calls the Phoenix Lords for the Rhana Dandra were he will be the last to fall.|
|Maugan Ra||The old Eldar Empire||Aeldari /Ynnari||Maugan Ra, the Harvester of Souls. The Phoenix Lord of the Dark Reapers. He is one of the most OP characters from a fluff prospective but sadly not from a table top one. Before he became Maugan Ra he was (if you can believe it) a mild-mannered librarian and caretaker and was the one who invented/discovered the Infinity Circuit.|
|Irillyth||The old Eldar Empire||Aeldari||Irillyth, the Shade of Twilight. The Phoenix Lord of the Shadow Spectres. Was lost for a long time but has finally made his return.|
|Drastanta||The old Eldar Empire||Aeldari||Drastanta, the Tempest of Starlight. The Phoenix Lord of the Shining Spears. After failing to save Asurmen he went into self-exile, leaving his weapon behind.|
|Sylandri Veilwalker||Harlequins||Harlequin/ Ynnari||A Shadowseer of the Masque of the Veiled Path who is worse than Eldrad when it comes to interfering in other peoples buisness. She was there when Prince Yriel took up the Spear of Twilight and can order around Magos Belisarius Cawl like he was her personal plaything. She helped guide the surviving Imperial defenders of Cadia into the Webway, then later reappeared alongside Cypher to free Roboute Guilliman after he was captureded by Chaos forces and later played a vital role in the battle against Magnus. She also manipulated the Emperor's Children into their attack on Lugganath. She’s also likely the Shadowseer that appeared in the Devastation of Baal, who dragged Mephiston through hell by his psychic ear, in order to warn him of a demonic invasion that was on its way. By the Dice Gods she’s everywhere, they might as well have her be the Shadowseer that appeared in The Beast Arises series…|
|Prince Yriel Ulthanash||Craftworld Iyanden||Aeldari /Ynnari||Prince Yriel is arrogant and deadly in equal measure. Whether as High Admiral of Iyanden’s grand fleet, commander of the Eldritch Raiders he leads his warriors from the front. Turns out that the The Spear of Twilight was one of the Crone Swords.|
|Illic Nightspear||Craftworld Alaitoc||Aeldari||The Walker of the Hidden Path. He has wandered the Path of the Outcast for thousands of years, slaying monsters and men alike as he seeks out the paths that span the stars.|
|Iyanna Arienal||Craftworld Iyanden||Aeldari /Ynnari||The Angel of Iyanden. The most prominent Spiritseer of Iyanden and one of the most outspoken supporters of Ynnead. (Her official rules are actually worse than the normal Spiritseer so it would be better to use the normal rules instead)|
|Nuadhu||Craftworld Saim-Hann||Aeldari||The Fireheart is a Wild Rider of Saim Hann with a modified Vyper called the Alean- the steed of Khaine. Nuadhu is currently Saim-Hann’s high chieftain.|
|Prince Eldrathain||Craftworlds||Corsairs||Leader of the corsairs in Battlefleet Gothic: Armada|
|Bel-annath||Craftworlds of Mymeara||Aeldari||Farseer of Mymeara|
|Macha||Craftworlds of Biel-Tan||Aeldari||Macha is a Farseer of the Craftworld of Biel-Tan during the events of the Dawn of War series. She alongside Gabriel Angelos of the Blood Ravens and Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter are inescapably linked by fate whether they like it or not.|
|Taldeer||Craftworlds of Ulthwé||Aeldari||A Farseer of the Ulthwé Craftworld. During the events of Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, Taldeer would end up dying at the hands of Azariah Kyras. Her Soul stone was later retrieved by her brother Ronahn. She appears in Dawn of War 3 as a Ghost Seer (a psychic Wraithknight… and you thought it couldn’t get more broken).|
|Pariah||Craftworlds||Corsairs||The Daemon Heart. Also named "Kyganil," the Pariah is the “companion” and guide to the The Thrice Born in the Daemonifuge comics.|
Minor Eldar Characters
- Farseer Caerys - Farseer of the Kaurava endeavour. From Craftworld Ulthwé.
- Farseer Idranel - Ulthwé Farseer who tried to stop Tyranids from nomming a craftworld in Subsector Aurelia by getting the Orks and the Blood Ravens pissed off. It failed utterly, with special mention going to Tarkus and his termie armour.
- Farseer Eldorath Starbane - Farseer of Craftworld Alaitoc. An arrogant bastard who couldn't get over himself and promptly got his ass handed to him by the Necrons.
- Autarch Kayleth - An Autarch of Craftworld Alaitoc. She took charge of the Subsector Aurelia situation after Idranel's death. Is hilariously snarky.
- Ronahn - Pathfinder. Born on Ulthwé, but eventually cut ties with his craftworld to wander the stars. Taldeer's brother.
- Autarch Kyre - An Autarch of Craftworld Biel-Tan featured in Dawn of War III. Incredibly arrogant even by Eldar standards, his misinterpretation of a prophesy he thought referred to him got his dumb ass killed by a daemon he accidentally freed and nearly led to a war between Biel-Tan and Ulthwe.
- Craftworld Alaitoc - The most structurally rigid of the craftworlds. Their strict adherence to discipline allows them to field a large number Exarchs. On the other plus side, all these rules tend to put off a lot of spehss elves, so they also have a large number of rangers on hand, including elite rangers known as "Pathfinders". The large number of misfits they produce also makes them close to Corsair bands. Currently got their shit kicked by the Imperium after their craftworld was invaded by both the Guard and the Space Marines, due to Dark Eldar dickery. Further sabotaging the Eldar by getting their agents constantly captured, with the Imperium learning most of what they know about the Eldar from Alaitoc's bumbling rangers.
- Craftworld Biel-tan - Best known for their military prowess, which allowed them to wipe out invaders. Are on a mission to restore the Eldar Empire, and so are highly protective of Eldar Maiden Worlds, violently murdering any non-Eldar race trying to settle on one under their watch. The most militaristic and xenophobic (more so than usual) of the Craftworlds. As of the Gathering Storm campaign, the Biel-Tan craftworld itself has been heavily damaged after the Yncarne was born and purged a Daemon infestation within its structure at the Battle of Biel-Tan. Subsequently half of Biel-Tan's population remains on the Craftworld, the remaining half either being dead or leaving to join the Ynnari. With their enormous recent loss of life they're quickly headed to becoming Iyanden 2.0.
- Craftworld Iyanden - Almost got nommed to death by the Tyranids, including the infamous story of having their avatar trampled to death by a herd of stampeding Carnifexi. They would have been completely eaten, if it wasn't for Prince Yriel, who saved his Craftworld using with his Corsair band and a big fucking spear of doom. Is almost depleted and so reluctantly have to rely on a large number of wraith constructs to help them in battle. Has a history of almost dying, having recently almost died twice more to two Chaos Invasions, making it the Damsel in Distress of Eldar Craftworlds.
- Craftworld Saim-Hann - A less-restrained craftworld who likes to go fast. They've even taken a page out of the Orks' book that "da' red wuns go fasta'!" as their primary colors are red. Unlike other craftworlds; Saim-Hann takes the concept of the Paths with a grain of salt, and so are more wild and barbaric compared to others (although not a Dark Eldar extreme). Whether this is them just making the best out of their situation or downright retarded (as these were the actions that led to their race's near extinction) is up to debate. Is basically the red, elfy version of the White Scars, only with less Mongolian. Recently following an invasion by a small Death Guard force the Saim-Hann Eldar were forced to cut off a piece of their Craftworld to save it from infection, abandoning the Eldar living on that part and causing them to be posessed by Nurgle Daemons. Whilst Biel-tan, Iyanden and Ulthwe are dying, Alaitoc is useless, Saim-hann just doesn't do much of anything at all.
- Craftworld Ulthwé - With Biel-tan and Iyanden both basically dead it is now the largest of the remaining Craftworlds, it specializes in psykers. Ulthwé is currently caught at the edge of the Eye of Terror's gravity pull, and so cannot escape its proximity and the lovecraftian horrors spewing out of it; they're basically the Eldar version of Cadia. Due to this, they have a heavy emphasis on the Path of the Seer to help them predict the constant attacks they experience on a daily basis. This emphasis on psykers does have a downside of having less Aspect Warriors on hand compared to others, but compensate for this by drilling their Guardian squads into elite "Black Guardians" which are more akin to career soldiers than your average militiamen made to answer a call to arms. Also former home of the biggest dick, this side of the Eye of Terror. Currently defenceless and wracked by internal conflict as it splinters into three separate factions.
- Craftworld Altansar - Was lost in the Eye of Terror for a while. Then Maugan Ra dragged it out with his epicness. Are viewed by suspicion by other Eldar due to spending an extended amount of time in the Warp (as an Eldar, no less), but do not dare do anything about it, lest they face the biotitan-bisecting wrath of the Eldar's version of Jetstream Sam.
- Craftworld Iybraesil - A matriarchal society with a disproportionately high female population. Commissars warn citizens of the Imperium to stay away of the craftworld because the perfidious xenos capture men for sexual fun and reproduction, as there are not enough eldar men to fulfill these tasks. Many brave citizens have decided to risk their lives in the name of the Emperor to find the Craftworld Iybraesil and ... ahem ... destroy this heresy. So yeah, want to get in the pants of an Eldar lady and not have your dick peeled like a bandana, go here.
- Craftworld Yme-Loc - Famed for their Bonesingers and producing incredible weapons and equipment, however, got their shit kicked in when the Mechanicus came and beat them up and stole their stuff. Also noted as the most Snoop-dogg attitude craftworld ever. Khorne hounds in the lower decks? Bah, screw that. Mechanicus pillage? No bother! Ravengay marine single-handedly hunting down half of your seer council? Who cares! Vaul taught them to go easy on those things and so they do.
- Craftworld Kaelor - An angry Craftworld who's Bonesingers march to war with them.
- Craftworld Mymeara - A small and stealthy Craftworld, closely connected to the Phoenix Lord of Irilyth, who were savagely mauled by the Space Wolves on Betalis.
Notable Former Craftworlds
- Craftworld Malan'Tai - Was invaded by a Tyranid fleet. They almost won as they repulsed most of the invaders, but missed a particular Zoanthrope that could eat Eldar souls (somehow). The nid devoured their craftworld's Infinity Circuit and singlehandedly vaporized the entire place. N'Kari, a Slaaneshi Keeper of Secrets, later visited the ruined craftworld to molest any spirit stones still left over after the party, but was cockblocked by the Grey Knights.
- Craftworld Idharae - After helping Iyanden to defeat some Tyranid this Craftworld was wrecked by the Invaders Space Marine Chapter despite Eldrad's attempts to save them (or, knowing Eldrad's track record, because of his efforts to help them).
- Craftworld Zaisuthra - Submitted to Genestealers in order to preserve their souls from Slaanesh since they lacked Infinity Circuit technology. Tried to bait Ynnari to get to Iyanden. Wiped by Yncarne.
- Tactics on how to play them.
- High Elves for the Warhammer Fantasy equivalent of the Craftworld Eldar.
- Wood Elves for the Fantasy equivalent of Exodite Eldar.
- Dark Elves for the shipborne life, a subfaction in exile and their worship of Khaine.
- Eldar Craftworld Creation Tables
- Eldar World
- Love Can Bloom
|This article contains PROMOTIONS! Don't say we didn't warn you.|
Yvraine regrets partying up with the Mon'keigh.
|Playable Factions in Warhammer 40,000|
|Imperium:||AdMech:||Adeptus Mechanicus - Mechanicus Knights|
|Army:||Imperial Guard - Imperial Knights - Imperial Navy - Militarum Tempestus - Space Marines|
|Inquisition:||Inquisition - Sisters of Battle - Deathwatch - Grey Knights|
|Other:||Adeptus Custodes - Adeptus Ministorum - Death Cults - Officio Assassinorum - Sisters of Silence|
|Chaos:||Chaos Daemons - Chaos Space Marines - Lost and the Damned - Chaos Knights|
|Xenos:||Aeldari:||Dark Eldar - Eldar - Eldar Corsairs - Harlequins - Ynnari|
|Tyranids:||Genestealer Cults - Tyranids|
|Others:||Necrons - Orks - Tau|