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Template:In-universe/Warhammer 40,000

In the fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000, the Eldar are a race of elf-like humanoids who look into the future via psychic powers. They are one of the most ancient and advanced races in the universe's history, though younger than the Necrons, the C'tan, and the Old Ones. Their armies usually have the advantages of speed and technology, but are often outnumbered and composed of units with little ability to absorb damage. They also have the most Psykers available.

In the sense that Warhammer 40,000 races parallel the earlier (and still extant) Warhammer Fantasy Battle game, the Eldar parallel the Elven race, the "Fantasy Eldar" being the High Elves. In Warhammer 40,000 the Eldar race is divided into three distinct groups, each with its own distinct armies: the Craftworld Eldar (often simply called Eldar), who are similar to the High Elves; the Dark Eldar, who are similar to the Dark Elves; and the Exodites, who are similar to the Wood Elves. (The Exodites exist mainly in Warhammer 40,000 background material and do not have models produced specifically for their use in the tabletop game.) These equivalences are only in very general thematic terms, however, as the major details of the races' backgrounds differ greatly from their Warhammer Fantasy counterparts.

The Fall

Before The Fall the Eldar were a technologically advanced race, generally considered one of the most powerful races in the entire Galaxy. Their technology had advanced so far that little or no work was required by individual Eldar, and as a result, at some point around the 24th or 25th millennia, groups of Eldar began forming cults dedicated to the pursuit of experiencing everything that life had to offer.

The Eldar mind is capable of a far deeper level of emotion and imagination than that of a human; therefore although they are capable of experiencing the greatest joys and creating the most beautiful pieces of art and music they are also capable of experiencing the deepest hate and ugliest depravities. These pursuits became more extreme and depraved as time went on. Torture and murder came to be seen as artforms every bit as worthy as music and drama. The Eldar were extremely long-lived, never suffered from senility or disease, and their superior intellect allowed them to perfect their skills to a degree far beyond that of even the most talented humans. The Eldar were able to devise cunning new ways of torturing and killing their fellows at rates never imagined.

Despite the prediction of the reclusive Eldar Seers that warned of impending doom if the Eldar did not change their ways, government within the Eldar Empire soon collapsed and the moral degeneration of their homeworlds and colonies continued unimpeded. As the pursuit of ever more extreme experiences reached its height, death reigned in the streets of Eldar cities, hunter and hunted each being part of a twisted ritual of destruction which consumed thousands. Some Eldar were able to see that their now-corrupt society was destroying itself, and fled in disgust; these refugees would settle in the distant colonies of their Empire, and would later be known as the Exodites.

Upon dying, the soul of the deceased traverse the bounds of the physical realm and go to rest within the warp. As more and more Eldar died, the souls began to coalesce into a larger entity due to the higher "density" of the Eldar mind. A representation of the hedonism that had taken over their lives was created. This collection of souls gained sentience sometime in the early 30th millennium, creating the being known as the Chaos god Slaanesh. When Slaanesh came to be, an ethereal explosion occurred, with the epicentre being the Eldar homeworld. All Eldar caught in the immense blast were instantly obliterated, their souls consumed by Slaanesh. Most of the remaining Eldar gods were eaten by Slaanesh. Kaela Mensha Khaine attempted to combat the new being, but Khaine's form was shattered and exiled to the mortal realm in the form of great statues called "Avatars", which rest in the hearts of the various Craftworlds. The other Eldar gods to survive the Fall were the trickster god Cegorach (also called the Laughing God), who hid himself within the Webway, and Isha, whom was ripped from the jaws of Slaanesh by Nurgle, who now keeps her as a slave (though she does spread knowledge of cures for Nurgle's poxes to mortals). The Eldar are also believed to be using their Infinity Circuits to create a Death God, Ynnead, one that will only come into being after the last Eldar has died and been absorbed into it. This Death God's purpose is to destroy Slaanesh.

The Fall destroyed the Eldar Empire, leaving scattered bands of Eldar fighting for survival. Before the Fall, vast space-borne vessels called Craftworlds were constructed, enabling those wishing to escape the degeneration to flee. When the Fall occurred, the various Craftworlds rode out the ethereal shockwave, some being destroyed in the process. The Exodite worlds, far from the epicentre of the catastrophe, were largely untouched. In order to prevent the events of The Fall from ever recurring, the Eldar devised the Path system.

The Eldar Paths

The Eldar are forever wary of falling into the same traps which led them to the Fall. In order to avoid slipping into such debauchery and become a more tempting meal for Slaanesh, most Craftworld Eldar take an extremely focused view on life, the paths, in addition to rules set in place by the respective Craftworlds. These paths include The Path of the Warrior, The Path of the Seer, The Path of Command, The Path of Exile, and the assumed various undescribed non-military paths. Once an eldar has become a master of a given path, they will often move to another path to avoid becoming "lost" on a path. Once one is lost on a path, they cannot leave it and often become Exarches (Grand Masters) of the path. Though an exarch is regarded as the absolute best at the respective path, he/she is also regarded in pity due to being trapped in a path; and thus, unable to further improve. Fortunately, their long lives mean that a single Eldar will often master several skills or Paths in the course of their life, pursuing each until they feel they have reached their potential and then choosing a new one.

The Path of the Warrior

File:Eldar-Guardians.gif

Eldar are known to pursue any task they set out to do with an intensity that makes human efforts pale in comparison. When an Eldar feels called to the path of the Warrior, he or she will join an Aspect Shrine, a cult of warriors who train themselves to embody some aspect of the Eldar War God Khaine or ancient Eldar myths and legends. All Craftworlds have some Aspect Shrines, although some, notably Biel-tan, have more than others and place a greater emphasis on the Path of the Warrior.

Each Aspect Shrine is led by an Exarch(s), an Eldar fallen to the curse of inability to leave the Path of the Warrior. These Exarchs are powerful warriors, doomed to die on the battlefield. Exarchs are the high priests and armourers of Khaine, living in and tending to the Aspect shrine. The first or founder of an Aspect Shrine is called a Phoenix Lord, since they are the original Exarchs of each respective discipline, and never truly "die", being reborn many times. When an Aspect warrior becomes an Exarch, they will don one of the ancient suits of Exarch armour that belong to that shrine, when they do the spiritstones of all the Exarch's before them (already in the armor) will merge with the spirit of the current user of the armor (in the same manner as with the Phoenix lords), giving them prowess and skill beyond their brethren. Each Exarch is an ancient hero, whose legend can continue in this manner.

Eldar joining the Path of the Warrior are terrified of losing themselves to their bloodlust, as such they create new personae that take over when they go to war, which separate their warrior and civilian lives so that they can freely live as a warrior without fear of losing their minds. The only exception is the Exarch, who are warriors until death, their only impulse being to wage war. This has serious consequences, since all other feelings and desires are subordinated to that one desire, a course that may lead to fusion with Khorne, the Chaos God of Blood and War, and the primary rival of Slaanesh.

Once an Eldar warrior finishes his time as an Aspect Warrior, they move on to other occupations, as per the convention of the Eldar Path. Since the population of the Eldar race is low, all Eldar are expected to serve if called to fight. Thus, if the Craftworld subsequently goes to war, these former Aspects will frequently be called upon to serve as Guardians, a type of militia serving to defend the Craftworld. Every civilian in an Eldar populace can bear arms, whatever their discipline, to boost the less numerous Aspect Warriors.

Here are some of the most common Aspects. The list is by no means exhaustive, but these are the most common ones, which are seen in more than one or two Craftworlds. The Phoenix Lords are not known for every Aspect; however, since each Aspect Shrine is founded by one, it is not unreasonable to believe that there is (or was) a Phoenix Lord for every Aspect.

Dire Avengers

The Dire Avengers are the oldest and most numerous of the Aspects Warriors, and embody a more traditional view of war. They embody Khaine as the noble warrior. They take to the battlefield as well-rounded infantry, armed with the traditional weapons of the Eldar, the shuriken catapult, although they are improved, with a greater range than conventional models. The Dire Avenger Exarch is able to equip a Diresword and Shuriken Pistol in exchange for his standard wargear, Dual Catapults for extra fire power, or a Shimmershield and power weapon for additional close combat defence. The Phoenix Lord of the Dire Avengers is Asurmen, the Hand of Asuryan. He was the first of the Phoenix Lords; it was he who instructed all the other founding Phoenix Lords in the skills of combat. Dire Avengers are mostly used as the core unit of troops of an Eldar army. With shuriken weapons and the Blade Storm ability, Dire Avengers excel at taking down large hordes of lightly armored infantry, although the sheer number of shots they can fire make them effective against any kind of infantry, they are also an effective counter assault unit with the defend ability and a shimmershield. It is rare to see an Eldar warhost without a core of these noble warriors at its heart.

Dark Reapers

The Dark Reapers represent Khaine in his aspect as a destroyer, callously striking down foes from afar. They specialize in long range fire-power. In battle they appear as menacing, black armoured troops wielding rapid-firing miniature missile launchers called "Reaper launchers", which they use to destroy great numbers of enemy infantry. Dark reapers excel at taking down large numbers of heavily armoured infantry. The Dark Reaper Exarch can also be equipped with a Missile Launcher or a Tempest Launcher, as well. The Phoenix Lord of the Dark Reapers is Maugan Ra, the Harvester of Souls, who comes from the Altansar Craftworld, which he helped to escape from inside the Eye of Terror during Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade. Maugan Ra teaches that the mightiest weapon can be wielded with the precision of a scalpel.

Fire Dragons

The Fire Dragons, named after their mystic serpents of lore, embody the fiery wrath of Khaine, and as such, generally wear red or orange armor, and wield short-ranged, heat-based weaponry known as 'fusion guns' (similar to the Imperium's Melta Guns, although more refined and stable). Their weapons and training allow them to focus on destroying enemy tanks and heavily-armored infantry. Fire Dragons are aggressive and destructive, seeking nothing less than the total annihilation of their foes. The Exarch can be armed with a powerful Dragon's Breath flamer, which lets them deal with hordes of lighter infantry as well. The Exarch can also be equipped with a Fire Pike, a longer-ranged fusion (melta) weapon. It is said that when the battle lust is upon them, Exarchs generate their own corona of flame around themselves. The Phoenix Lord of the Fire Dragons is Fuegan, The Burning Lance.

Howling Banshees

The Howling Banshees are generally female Eldar warriors who embody spirits from Eldar legend, and are meant to bring swift death to their foes. It is said that the Crone Goddess, Morai-Heg, sent her daughters to haunt Khaine, until he cut off her hand. Upon drinking her own blood, and gaining the knowledge of blood, Morai-Heg granted Khaine the Aspect of the Banshee. They are famous for wearing warmasks which emit piercing psychically-charged shrieks as the warriors attack; these shrieks disorient the Banshees' victims, making them easier to slay. Banshees specialize in mobility (at the expense of durability), and use power weapons, which can easily carve through heavy armor, even Terminator armor. The Banshee Exarch is even more deadly with Mirrorblades or the powerful Executioner. The Phoenix Lord of the Howling Banshees is Jain Zar, the Storm of Silence. Jain Zar is the most devoted to her Shrines out of the Phoenix Lords, and the Banshees maintain an eternal vigil for their deadly mistress.

Shining Spears

The relatively rare Shining Spears embody the Spear of Khaine, an invincible weapon wielded by the god of war, said to be able to kill any foe with a single blow. They are unique in that they are the only major Aspect to ride sleek jetbikes— essentially incredibly fast motorcycle-like vehicles which hover just above the ground by using technology similar to the Grav tanks. They also wield specially designed lances, known as Laser Lances, which are able to shoot powerful short-ranged lasers. In this way, they are meant to operate in a manner similar to heavy medieval cavalry, like knights, in a manner similar to the duelling Dragon Knights of the Exodite worlds. At this time, there is no known Phoenix Lord for the Shining Spears.

Striking Scorpions

The Striking Scorpions are another close combat Aspect, representing a more hard-hitting, durable side of hand to hand combat. They are slower than Howling Banshees, but are stronger and wear heavier armour, similar to that of a space marine. Also, rather than wearing the disorienting masks like the Banshees, the Scorpions wear head-mounted guns called 'mandi-blasters'; having them head-mounted frees up the warrior's hands for other close combat weapons, most notably a chainsword, although the Exarch often uses a Scorpion's Claw, a Biting Blade or dual chainsabres. Tactically, they specialise in ambush and overwhelming more numerous enemy light infantry rather than quickly slicing through heavily-armoured infantry as Banshees do. This focus on surprise attacks has emphasised stealth as well as great prowess at close quarters; their training ensures a superhuman ability to creep around obstacles and through difficult terrain, blending to the shadows before falling on an unsuspecting foe like the wrath of Khaine.

The Phoenix Lord of the Striking Scorpions is Karandras, the Shadow Hunter. However, Karandras is not the original Phoenix Lord. The original was named Ahra, Father of Scorpions, and is the only Phoenix Lord to leave the Eldar and his Shrine completely. Many theories link him with the mysterious "Dark Father" of the Incubi, a Dark Eldar warrior cult who bear many similarities to the Striking Scorpions. Arhra was said to have 'turned to the Shadows away from the light', also "the fallen phoenix, who burns with the dark light of chaos", and is known to have fled into the Webway (where the Dark Eldar dwell) after going berserk and destroying his first Aspect shrine. It's also heavily implied in Codex: Dark Eldar that the Incubi are "fallen" Striking Scorpions, drawn from Exarch Koradhil's comments when he encounters a squad of those warriors. Karandras has tempered the murderous nature of his predecessor with that of the patient hunter, being supernaturally stealthy, even more so than his disciples. His signature weapon is The Scorpion's Bite, a set of mandiblasters many times more powerful than the standard set.

Swooping Hawks

The Swooping Hawks are a highly mobile aspect, representing the hawks from Eldar legend, who would hover above murderers as a sign of guilt. They wear complex sets of wings made from many hundreds of vibrating plates which allow them to enter the battlefield at critical points and lend firepower support. Like the Banshees, the Hawks sacrifice durability for greater mobility. Their lasblasters make them excellent against light infantry. Also of note, they wield cleverly designed grenade launchers on their legs, which allow them to bomb enemy units as they fly into the battle. The swooping hawks are also equipped with haywire grenades which are very effective at disabling any vehicle making swooping hawks a great anti-armour choice as well. The Phoenix Lord of the Swooping Hawks is known as Baharroth, The Cry of the Wind. Baharroth is the most youthful of the Phoenix Lords, and is a brother to Maugan Ra, as the sun is to the moon.

Warp Spiders

The Warp Spiders are modeled after the tiny spiders which guard the Infinity Circuit. These spiders have the ability to teleport anywhere inside the wraithbone structure, and use this ability to hunt down and repel any daemonic entities which attempt to infiltrate the Circuit, much like an immune system. The Warp Spiders operate similarly, epitomising the doctrine of aggressive defense; they wear suits of heavy armour which incorporate a warp jump generator that allows them to teleport across the battlefield, appearing without warning to strike and then teleport away before the enemy can respond. Using their warp-jump technology is risky as Eldar using them can be claimed by the warp itself. As a precaution for this, their armor also have warp-resistant spells cast on them. Because they risk not only their lives, but their souls, Warp spiders are considered to be the bravest of aspect warriors. In battle, they wield short-ranged weapons called "Deathspinners", which are able to easily slay enemy infantry, especially those who wear little or no armour because the Deathspinners fire clouds of monofilament wires, which decompress, and shred flesh but are easily withstood by armour. Warp Spider Exarchs have some anti-armour ability, being able to take powerblades that slice through flesh and armour with ease, and also the mighty spinneret rifle, a gun that shoots a rigid strand of monofilament that punches through armour and uncoils in the target. Alternatively, they can take two deathspinners, mounted on their backpack, freeing their hands. At this time, there is no known Phoenix Lord for the Warp Spiders. It is rumored that the Lhykosidae is the Phoenix Lord of the Warp Spiders, but there is no proof of this.

Autarch

The Autarch (the path of command) is a very demanding path. To become an Autarch, an Eldar needs to travel multiple Paths of the Warrior, and still be able to retain themselves from getting lost on the path and becoming an Exarch. The Autarchs of a craftworld are the commanders of their armies, the military foils to the Farseers' wisdom. They are able to use a wide variety of wargear, reflective of his or her experience with all aspects of warfare. They can use almost any piece of weaponry that the other aspects can, although not artifacts exclusive to the Exarchs.

The Autarch originally appeared in the Specialist Game Epic Armageddon with a slightly different background. The Epic description of the Autarch states that the Autarch followed the Path of the Warrior and was lost on it, becoming an Exarch. However, unlike most Exarchs who stay within their given shrine or aspect (Dire Avenger, Shining Spear, etc...), the Autarch traveled from aspect to aspect, becoming an Exarch in many different shrines. This background was ret-conned with the release of the 4th Edition Codex: Eldar in 2006.

Autarchs are second only to Phoenix Lords in terms of skill and reflexes; from directing the Eldar warhost to duelling with enemy commanders, Autarchs have the skill and wargear to cover multiple requirements. While not as strong as some other enemy commanders in hand to hand, their melee might should not be overlooked.

Autarchs co-ordinate the Eldar warhost with the skill and precision of a conductor conducting a symphony. The Autarchs are obsessed with the Path of Command, having a wider area of expertise and greater understanding of the entirety of the theater of war than an Exarch, focused upon one facet of war, could ever hope to achieve.

Farseers

Eldar Farseers are capable of improving your armour, your shots, make the enemy easier to kill and create electric storms. The Warlock are the bodyguards of the Farseers and can improve the skill of a wraithguard. The Farseer is mostly equipped with either a spear or a witchblade. The Warlocks are mostly equipped with a double-handed witchblade.

The Path of the Seer

Aspects are responsible for the defense of the Eldar, in the same way the Seers are responsible for leading them. Seers that are lost to the path forever become Farseers, similar to the way an Exarch attains his status by following the path of the warrior. Also, like the Exarch, they are very powerful, some of the most powerful psykers in the universe. A council of the most powerful Seers generally govern a Craftworld. Seers come in a wide variety with divination being the most common skill. Warlocks and Spirit Seers are two other types of Seers represented in Warhammer 40,000. Warlocks are Seers who follow the path of the Seer but have not been lost to it, and have previously traveled the path of the warrior. They use their powers to assist other Eldar in battle, shielding them from harm and attacking their enemies. Spirit Seers are Seers who specialise in communication with the dead; unsurprisingly, they are most prevalent within Iyanden and sometimes lead squads of Wraithguard in combat.

The role of the Seers is to look into the future and discern the best path for the Eldar to take. This is done through the casting of runestones, fragments of Wraithbone, and other psychosensitive materials that react to the convoluted, probabilistic skeins of space-time. By reading the throw of these stones, the Seers can often determine what will be the most beneficial course of action, although it is rare that they can discern true results very far into the future. On occasion a powerful Seer will receive a portent of some calamitous event and be able to steer the Eldar away from disaster and doom. With so few Eldar remaining, the Seers attempt to preserve every Eldar life they can.

However, this ability to see the future and react upon what is seen has caused the Eldar to be distrusted by other races. Occasionally, a Seer will see that by attacking a certain world, fleet, or base, Eldar lives will be somehow saved from a future event; Eldar forces will then suddenly attack unannounced, and quickly withdraw as soon as their goal has been accomplished. This, along with the Eldar tendency to view all other races as inferior, has led other races to deem them as fickle, aloof, and untrustworthy. Also, the most powerful Farseers have even shown the ability to steer future events so that other races fight each other rather than the Eldar— one of the greatest examples being when the famed Farseer Eldrad Ulthran of Ulthwé (a Craftworld which places greater emphasis on the Path of the Seer) secretly facilitated the rise of an obscure Ork warlord named Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, who would eventually become a significant enemy of the Imperium of Man.

The Farseers lead in times of war as well as peace. On the battlefield their powers of precognition allow them to foresee the enemy's attacks and movements and warn their comrades against imminent changes on the field of battle. While less capable of foreseeing events in such harried conditions, the Warlocks, especially those who have already tread the Path of an Aspect Warrior, will often serve as officers in battle, leading units of other Eldar, and helping to coordinate the overall battle, as well as to lend support by utilising their considerable psychic powers.

As many Farseers age however, their bodies slowly turn to a form of psychically active crystal, a transformation caused by their constant exposure to the chaotic energies of the Warp. When the time has come, they will go to the Dome of the Crystal Seers and join the crystalline bodies of the Farseers that came before them.

In times of peace, rare as they may be for the Eldar, Farseers serve as political leaders, using their predictive abilities to guide the day-to-day activities of their Craftworlds in order to safeguard their racial survival.

Other Paths

While the Seer and the Warrior are two of the most visible Paths, there are hundreds of others. Many Eldar will choose the study of an instrument or art form as their Path, while others might devote themselves to the development of a science or the refinement of some technology. These Paths, while equally important to the survival of the Eldar, tend to be far more varied and far less consuming than the Seer and the Warrior. Notable among the other Paths is that of the Bonesinger; the title given to those that maintain and repair the psycho-active wraithbone components of the Eldar worlds. Also notable is the Path of the Mariner, the Path followed by those who devote themselves to crewing spacecraft.

By far the most common of the paths among the Eldar, though, is the Path of the Artisan. Whether it be crafting works of art or composing plays or symphonies all Eldar love the arts and the path of the artisan is walked by almost all Eldar at some point in their lives.

The Path of Exile

While many in the Craftworlds find solace in their aspects many younger Eldar find this existence to be stifling. They find the regimented life of Craftworld existence as staid and uninteresting. They strike out on their own, plying their skill in service to any who would have them. This is known as the Path of the Exile, and is somewhat frowned upon by those eldar that remain in the craftworld in order to perfect their chosen path. Those who embark on this path usually return to the Craftworlds with information about the goings on of the Galaxy as a whole, and are seen as a source of intelligence for the Eldar. However, many Eldar are lost to this path and do not return to the craftworld. Of those lost, however, some become skilled scouts known as Rangers. These Rangers are highly sought after. With their Eldar Long rifles they can find seams in seemingly impenetrable armor, and take down enemies without even being spotted. These are the snipers for the Eldar army. While many Craftworlds have at least a few Rangers, only the Craftworld Alaitoc has them in significant numbers, to the exclusion of almost all other Aspects.

However, while these Rangers are seen as a necessary evil, the Eldar do not care for the Path of Exile, since many who embark on it never return to their Craftworld. With the Eldar numbers dwindling, many suggest that this path can no longer be afforded.

Divergent factions

Dark Eldar

Main article: Dark Eldar

The Dark Eldar, analogous to Dark Elves/Drow/the "Unseelie" court of Fae from other fantasy settings, are a Kindred of the Eldar that revel in piracy, enslavement and torture, and are sadistic in the extreme. They are the remnants of the pleasure cultists that brought about the birth of Slaanesh, and believe that killing "lesser" races and offering the joy and pain within these souls to Slaanesh can forestall Slaanesh's hunger for their own souls, an ironically futile goal, as Slaanesh feeds on the same sadism that drives many of their actions. They use the Webway to traverse the galaxy safely and far more quickly than most races are able to with their Warp jumps, launching raids against other species.

Harlequins

Main article: Eldar Harlequins

The Harlequins are the keepers of the Black Library and serve the Laughing God. They see themselves as a unifying force for the Eldar, dedicated to preserving their race, and often acting as mediators and coordinators between the various Eldar factions. The other Eldar view the Harlequins with a mixture of awe, fear and respect. Harlequins are rare but respected warriors and, if seen at all, will usually be heading an assault on tougher units such as Terminators, Tyranid Warriors, Ork Nobs, or Tau battle suits.

Exodites

During the Fall, the degeneration of the Eldar did not occur wholly without resistance. Some Eldar, the more far-sighted, began to openly criticise the laxity of their fellow citizens, and to warn against the birth of the hedonistic and savage pleasure cults. These individuals were mostly ignored or else treated as narrow-minded fools and puritanical fanatics. Eventually the general collapse of Eldar society just before the birth of Slaanesh convinced even the most resolute amongst them that there would be no end to the reign of death and depravity. Some decided to leave the Eldar worlds, and settle new planets free of the creeping corruption. They were the ones still untainted by the depravity that had claimed their fellow citizens, and by the time just before the Fall they were very few. These Eldar are known today as the Exodites because they made an Exodus from the now lost homeworlds of the Eldar Empire before it was too late.

The Exodite worlds are generally considered backward and rustic compared to the rest of the space-roaming Eldar, although they still possess a good deal of the Eldar's advanced technology. One piece of technology the Exodites have maintained is the Infinity Circuit. On Exodite planets, Infinity Circuits are known as "World Spirits" and exist as grids of stone menhirs, obelisks, and stone circles all crafted from psychoactive Eldritch crystal. This World Spirit performs the same function that the Infinity Circuit does on Eldar Craftworlds. Some Outcasts will find refuge among these generally more accepting Eldar.

Exodites often find themselves coming into conflict with other races like humans or Orks, who try to settle their planet. Some Craftworlds, especially Biel-Tan, are famed for fiercely aiding their Exodite brethren. Many a time the Imperium has tried to settle an Exodite-owned planet only to find themselves up against the harsh wrath of the swordwind of Biel-Tan.

Although no Exodite models exist (theoup appearing only in the 40k background information), a number of players have converted their own Exodite armies.

Notable Characters

This is a list of notable characters and heroes of the Eldar race in the Warhammer 40,000 fictional setting.

Eldrad Ulthran

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Eldrad Ulthran was the mightiest and most ancient of the Farseers of the Eldar Craftworld of Ulthwé. Among Eldrad's accomplishments are supposedly igniting the Second War for Armageddon so as to spare the lives of ten thousand Eldar[1], the Sanapan Scouring, the Mortis Annihilation and the Third Coming of Orian, as well as warning Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor's Children of Horus's treachery[2] (though he failed, realising only too late that Fulgrim had already been corrupted by Slaanesh) and warning Iyanden of the coming of the Tyranids[1]. The veracity of these accomplishments are often debated, as they are usually derived from work by Inquisitor Czevak (which he himself admits strays into the realm of paranoia) and the rantings of a tortured Eldar Ranger. Also, of these battles, only the Second War for Armageddon is ever described in detail. It is also noted, that he is one of the few individuals, perhaps the only, to fight in hand-to-hand combat with Abaddon the Despoiler himself and live to tell the tale. He also enacted the Coven of Isha, which required the Imperium to help the Eldar in some way in return for information on the Chaos legions.

Eldrad perished during the Eye of Terror campaign[3], when he was caught upon a Blackstone Fortress, or Talisman of Vaul, that he was trying to stop from destroying the Imperial world of Cadia. As he attempted to commune with the spirit of the Fortress, the Farseer learned it had been corrupted, and not by any random power. The machine had been corrupted by Slaanesh. Eldrad desperately tried to disengage, but his efforts came too late: his soul was dragged screaming into the Talisman's corrupted core for all eternity. The Talisman's current whereabouts are unknown but is likely to be somewhere in the warp.[4]

Eldrad's Fate

Prior to the 13th Black Crusade, Eldrad had fragmented his consciousness into hundreds of waystones, for the use of battlefield leaders. In the closing stage of the war, he led an assault on the surviving Talisman of Vaul in a desperate attempt to rescue its soul, saving the planet of Cadia in the process. He spirit-linked with the Talisman's core, only to realise that all Eldar traces within the fortress had been devoured, replaced by the vile power of Slaanesh.

The new Codex: Eldar (November 2006) features Eldrad as a historical special character. His background material, however, ends with a flicker of hope. It states that after Eldrad's soul was lost most but not all of the waystones, into which he had divided his consciousness before handing to his commanders, became lifeless and dull. So long as one stone retains its spark, Eldrad's soul endures[5].

Prince Yriel

File:Yriel.jpg

Prince Yriel, Autarch of Iyanden, was a brilliant if reckless commander in Iyanden's fleet. He is not of pure Iyanden blood but is honored as one of the greatest defenders of Iyanden. He was originally exiled when he led a successful and pre-emptive attack on a Chaos fleet that left the Craftworld open to attack. He and his crew formed a corsair fleet, the Eldritch Raiders, and had become infamous throughout the galaxy in only a few decades, a testament to Yriel's skill[5].

He and his fleet saved Iyanden at its time of greatest need, at the height of the Tyranid invasion by the Hive Fleet Kraken. As the Craftworld was about to fall, Yriel and his Eldritch Raiders blew a sizeable hole in the Tyranid's fleet and reinforced Iyanden's forces. Yriel himself slew the leader of the hordes, a supposedly invincible creature, with the Spear of Twilight, a cursed artifact that contains the power of a Supernova. Yriel was then instated as an Autarch of Iyanden, and is currently searching for a way to restore his craftworld to glory before the spear kills him.

Yriel first appeared in early first edition as the "self-styled 'Lord Prince Yriel,'" where it is mentioned that Imperium-fostered rivalries between Yriel and other pirate companies resulted in factional fighting; his conquest and absorption of two of these rival groups (Xian's Black Raiders and the Scarlet Command) making him the single most powerful Eldar pirate operating in the galaxy.

The Spear of Twilight

The Spear of Twilight was a legendary artifact of power kept in the Shrine of Ulthanash in the Craftworld Iyaden. The weapon was "so powerful it would burn the bearer's soul"[5]. The spear, unlike other weapons, could not be removed by the owner and thus Yriel, when he used the powerful spear to kill the leader of the Hive Fleet Kraken, was bound by its curse.

The spear's curse operates by draining Yriel's energy, which is represented by him taking a wound at the end of each battle he fights in, his forceshield allaying the worst effects of the weapon. The spear is a singing spear, the psychic weapons used by Eldar Warlocks, and each wound is able to ignore the armour saves of its enemies[5].

Phoenix Lords

Phoenix Lords are the greatest warriors of the Eldar in the universe of Warhammer 40,000. Each of them founded one of the aspect shrines of the Eldar, and are the embodiment of that aspect. They have transcended the bounds of normal mortality, in a fashion. The spirit of the original Phoenix Lords was infused into their armour, and merges with the current wearer of the armour. When the Phoenix Lord falls in combat, another will don the armour and assume the memories and abilities of the Phoenix Lord[1][1][5].

The Phoenix Lords are effectively immortal, when the occupant of the battlesuit dies their place is taken by another but their personality forms part of the developed personality of the armour which includes all the previous occupants.

Asurmen

File:Phoenix-Lord-Asurmen large.gif

Asurmen was the first Phoenix Lord. His name means 'the hand of Asuryan', and his children were the Asurya. 'Asur' means 'light' in the Eldar language[1]. Following the fall of the Eldar, Asurmen founded the first of the aspect shrines, the "Dire Avengers". He travelled the craftworlds, teaching those Eldar who wanted to learn. The greatest of his students went on to found their own aspect shrines and became Phoenix Lords themselves. His ancient armour has vambraces with integrated shuriken catapults. He carries the first "Diresword", called the "Sword of Asur", which contains the soul of his long-dead brother, Tethesis, who was killed by a daemon[5].

Baharroth

Baharroth is the creator of the aspect shrine of the Swooping Hawks. He participated in many raids into Chaos strongholds, as a sworn enemy of Chaos since his family and much of his craftworld, Anaen, was destroyed in a massive Chaos assault led by Trarkh, a known Khorne Berzeker leader.[1]. He was also the fastest of the Eldar who had ever lived. He is a brother of Maugan Ra. His wings are made of small vibrating plates, which, as they vibrate, give the wearer flight[5].

Jain Zar

Jain Zar is the Phoenix Lord of the Howling Banshees, the first chosen of Asurmen, the first Exarch[1]. An acrobat at heart, Jain Zar (which translates as "The Storm of Silence") is the fastest of all the Phoenix Lords except for Baharroth. Her weapons of choice are the Zhai Morenn (which translates as "Blade of Destruction") and the Jainas Mor ("Silent Death"), a specially crafted three bladed throwing weapon, able to strike multiple targets with a single cast. She traveled the webway, spreading her knowledge to all but the remotest of craftworlds. Jain Zar is known to have disappeared for centuries at a time, keeping her followers ever watching[5].

Fuegan

Fuegan is the Phoenix Lord of the Fire Dragons[1]. Thought lost when the Shrine of Asur was destroyed by the Fallen Phoenix,he was seen on Medusa V with a retinue of fire dragon Exarches in an imperial fuel distribution centre. He appeared to fight alongside the Eldar at Haranshemash (which translates as "The World of Blood and Tears"), a world where Eldrad Ulthran foretold of the Chaos gods forcing open a rift onto the world. It is said in the last stanza of the Asuryata, the legend of the Phoenix Lords, known in full only to the Bards of Twilight, that Fuegan will call all of the Phoenix Lords for the Rhana Dandra and he will be the last to die in that conflict that will result in the final death of the Eldar and their gods alike[5].

Karandras

Karandras is the Phoenix Lord of the Striking Scorpions[1]. He is not the first of the Striking Scorpions for that is Arhra, the Father of the Scorpions. Arhra turned to darkness and waged war on his own kind. When the other Phoenix Lords banded together to stop him from destroying the Shrine of Asur, Arhra fled into the webway and is now referred to as the Fallen Phoenix who burns with the dark light of Chaos. No one knows where Karandras' shrine originally lay, but perhaps it was on one of the craftworlds that survived the Fall but was destroyed soon after[5].

Avatars of Kaela Mensha Khaine

Legend has it that Slaanesh and The Bloody-handed God fought a titanic battle in the warp. Despite Khaine's divine might and mastery of war, Slaanesh, glutted on the power of the gods, eventually proved the stronger[1][5].

Exhausted from the battle, Slaanesh was unable to destroy Khaine completely. Instead, Khaine was rent into many pieces and driven from the warp forever. Each fragment eventually came to rest inside the wraithbone core of each craftworld, where they took root and grew into an Avatar, which under a sacrifice can be summoned to serve its craftworld in war. The Avatar carries "The Wailing Doom," a mighty sword that is said to be one of the 99 swords of Vaul (not the mortal one).

These fragments of Kaela Mensha Khaine can be reanimated however. To do this an exarch must undergo various trials of combat followed by a ritual in which the exarch is sealed in a room containing a fragment of the god. What happens in the room after the doors are sealed is unknown. All that is known, is that the deafening roar of fire and liquid steel nearly drown out the cries of pain issued by the exarch. After some time of this, an avatar of the bloody handed god emerges from the room. What happened to the exarch is never spoken of or looked into.

Eldar Avatar

Every craftworld is home to an Eldar Avatar who sits motionless until the call to the arms begins he is the embodiment of an ancient God, molten iron flowing through his veins, in his right he carries The Wailing Doom, the weapon of the bloodstained God which cries for the taste of mortal flesh.

Other Eldar Characters

  • Elarique Swiftblade: Autarch of Alaitoc (character recently created for the Medusa V campaign)
  • Farseer Taldeer of Ulthwé.: an Eldar Farseer who commanded the Eldar forces on Lorn V in the PC Game Dawn of War: Winter Assault, subtly aiding the Imperial Guard but with the ultimate goal of defeating the Necrons on the planet. Also featured in the PC game Dawn of War: Dark Crusade as the leader of Eldar forces on the planet Kronus.
  • Farseer Macha of Biel-Tan: Farseer in the PC game Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. She is featured in the Dawn of War novel series fighting with and alongside Blood Raven Captain Gabriel Angelos mainly as a protagonist.
  • Iyanna Arienal: Spiritseer of Iyanden, she carries the Spear of Teuthlas into battle and wears the Armour of Vaul[1].
  • Nuadhu "Fireheart": Wild Rider of Saim Hann, Nuadhu is a legendary Vyper rider that rides standing up to aid in his attacks[1].
  • Warp Spider Naois: A Warp Spider from the novel "Eldar Prophecy", who later becomes Lhykosidae, the supposedly most powerful Warp Spider.
  • Farseer Caerys of Ulthwé: An Eldar Farseer hailing from the craftworld of Ulthwé who commanded the forces of this craftworld in the campaign in the Kaurava System brought about by the warp storm. These events are taken from the PC game Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Soulstorm.
  • Farseer Indranel of Ulthwé: An Eldar Farseer hailing from the craftworld of Ulthwé who led a campaign in the Aurelia System years after the Dark Crusade of Kronus. She led forces of the Craftworld against the Blood Ravens, initially manipulting Orks to fight them. Her goal was to prevent a future invasion of the Craftworld by a hive fleet from the Tyranid Leviathan Brood. This would be achieved by destroying planet Meridian, which would annihalate the fleet in the process. These events are taken from the PC game Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II.

Eldar gameplay

The Eldar usually rely on speed and firepower to win their battles. Eldar tactics mainly focus on speedy assault and movement across the battlefield, at the cost of toughness.

Of all the armies in Warhammer 40,000 the Eldar stand apart as capable of fielding incredibly large numbers of specialists. Most Eldar warriors are spectacular when performing in one particular area of expertise but largely ineffective when used in another role. For example, Dark Reapers easily destroy heavy infantry, like Space Marines, but are mostly ineffectual against numerous light infantry, like Guardsmen. However, those self same guardsman could be torn apart by a squad of Striking Scorpions. If there is a battlefield niche, the Eldar have a unit that fills it. Effective play, then, requires above all else proper deployment and target selection for the various forces, as well as concerted efforts from all forces used together effectively. A good example is that of an assault on a transport vehicle. An effective method of doing this would be to use Fire Dragons (short-range tank hunters) to destroy it easily, then attack the survivors with another squad (or in some cases, such as a unit of very heavily-armoured Space Marine Terminators in a Land Raider, the same Fire Dragon squad), depending on the traits of the infantry emerging. A successful Eldar player must make sure it all evens out. To get the most out of an Eldar force every unit has to be used to their full ability. An interesting note is that Eldar weaponry does not overheat. In other words, it could fire for eternity with no penalty to its wielder.

With the advent of the newest update the Harlequins, an offshoot of the Eldar main army that hasn't been tournament-legal for two editions, make a return. They can now be fielded as a part of normal Eldar armies. Additionally, jet bikes, which are a signature Eldar unit, are moved to troops allowing a quicker playing style for Eldar. Many units such as Dire Avengers, Fire Prisms and War Walkers have had their rules refurbished making them more combat effective.

The old 3rd edition rules for different Eldar factions ("Codex: Craftworld Eldar") are no longer tournament-legal. However, some vestiges of the older rules can be seen in the new fourth edition Eldar codex (i.e. full squads of Wraithguard may be fielded as Troops choices or elites, and Jetbikes becoming Troop choices like the old Saim-Hann list).

See also

External links

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Thorpe, Gav (2000). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Craftworld Eldar. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-029-3. 
  2. McNeill, Graham (2007). Fulgrim. Nottingham: Black Libraryp. ISBN 1-84416-476-4. 
  3. Chambers, Andy; Hoare, Andy, and Kelly, Phil (2003). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Eye of Terror. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-398-5. 
  4. See [1] for details.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 Kelly, Phil (2006). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Eldar (4th Edition ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-791-3. 

Cassern S Goto,. Eldar Prophecy (Warhammer 40,000 Novels (Paperback)). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84416-451-9. 

  • Priestley, Rick (1994). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-872372-74-0. 
  • Thorpe, Gav (2001). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Eldar (3rd Edition ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-869893-39-5. 
  • Spurrier, Simon (2005). Xenology. Nottingham: Black Library. ISBN 1-84416-282-6. 

{{ Navbox | name = Warhammer 40,000 | title = Warhammer 40,000

| group1 = Forces of the Imperium | list1 = Imperial Guard · Space Marines · Sisters of Battle · Daemonhunters

| group2 = Forces of Chaos | list2 = Chaos Space Marines · Chaos Daemons · The Lost and the Damned

| group3 = Alien races | list3 = Dark Eldar · Eldar · Orks · Necrons · Tau · Kroot · Vespid · Tyranids · Demiurg · Squat

| group4 = Spin-offs | list4 = Aeronautica Imperialis · Battlefleet Gothic · Dark Millennium · Epic · Gorkamorka · Inquisitor · Necromunda · Space Hulk · Warhammer 40,000 novels

| group5 = Video games | list5 = Space Crusade · Space Hulk · Vengeance of the Blood Angels · Final Liberation · Chaos Gate · Rites of War · Fire Warrior · Dawn of War (Winter Assault · Dark Crusade · Soulstorm· Glory in Death · Squad Command · Dawn of War II (Chaos Rising · Retribution· Space Marine · Dark Millennium Online

| group6 = Role-playing games | list6 = Dark Heresy · Rogue Trader · Deathwatch · Black Crusade

| group7 = Film | list7 = Ultramarines: The Movie |}

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