The Eldar Race
The Eldar are a race exponentially more ancient than the other spacefaring races. When mankind was still scrawling figures on the walls of their caves, the Eldar were exploring the stars in their sleek spaceships constructed from the psychically reactive material known as Wraithbone. Though they used to inhabit a multitude of planets throughout the galaxy, most of these worlds were destroyed by the catastrophe known simply as the Fall. With the majority of their people lost to this disaster, the remaining Eldar ply the stars on massive artificial cityships known as Craftworlds. Their nigh forgotten culture lives on through these ships, the architecture echoing the grand sweeping buttresses of their ancient cities.
Compared to many of the other races, Eldar live extremely long lives spanning longer than a millenium, causing them to seem immortal to more volatile races such as humans. Even with their extended existences, the Eldar live at what would seem an exceptional pace even to the most advanced of human warriors. An Eldar's body and mind race by, allowing them to react to changing battlefield conditions at supernatural speeds.
Despite all their natural differences, the Eldar resemble humans closely in a superficial sense. In general Eldar are much taller and more slender than humans, with gleaming alabaster skin and elongated, pointed ears. The most noticeable difference becomes apparent when one sees an Eldar in motion, as they possess a natural yet inhuman grace and elegance, a trait which translates seemlessly into their battlefield maneuvers.
While there are rare humans born with psychic potential, all Eldar are capable of advanced manipulation of mental energies. Even their very weapons and armor are designed to be manipulated through thought. However, this immense potential for power comes with a heavy price. An Eldar is capable of experiencing all emotions to an exponentially intense degree. Not even the advanced mind of an Eldar can recklessly taste such rich fruits without dire consequences. If any Eldar were to give in to his desires then he would surely be destroyed. In fact it was just such control issues that caused the fall of the Eldars' ancient empire.
The Mythic Cycles of the Eldar
The Eldar place a great importance on their ancient lore. All Eldar know the grand tales told through songs and dances and often draw analogies between the legendary tales and modern events. The tales concern many characters including the gods, their mortal descendants the Eldar, and all of the demonic adversaries who opposed them. The chief deity is Asuryan, the Phoenix King. His brother, Kaela Mensha Khaine, is the god of war as well as murder, representing martial prowess and wanton destruction within a single entity. Vaul the crippled smith god is another of the greatest gods, and he is often depicted chained to his anvil. As there are three major gods, there are 3 major goddesses as well. The first is Isha the goddess of the harvest. She is the god from whom the Eldar are descended. Lileath the Maiden is the mistress of dreams and fortune, as well as being the youngest of the three. The final goddess is known as Morai-Heg the Crone, a withered old woman carrying a skin rune pouch containing the fates of mortals.
There are numerous mortal heroes descended from the gods depicted in the epic songs as well, founders of the great Eldar houses remembered even by the Craftworld bound Eldar. The greatest of these heroes was Eldanesh, the Eldar messiah who was eventually slain in battle with an enraged Khaine. It is his blood that drips from Khaine's hand for eternity, a curse placed on the war god by the appalled Asuryan. The Eldanar were the descendents of Eldanesh, with Inriam the Young being the last member of that great house. The descendants of Eldanesh's brother Ulthanash were eternal rivals of the Eldanar, eventually rising to become equals in power.
The Fall of the Eldar
The Children of the Stars
Decadence and Exile
The Birth of a God
The Murdered Pantheon
The Harlequins of the Laughing God
The Dark Kin
The Eldar Craftworlds
After the fall of the ancient Eldar empire, the majority of Eldar planets were consumed with the warpstorm caused by the birth of Slaanesh, with only the farthest fringe worlds being spared. However, many Eldar heeded the warnings of the coming cataclysm, and set out on great space-cities known as Craftworlds. The Eldar of the craftworlds would often seek out the residents of the fringe colonies spared from the Fall, known as Exodites, or even search for new planets to settle themselves. This is the way humans and Eldar first met, and soon the names of the five greatest craftworlds became known to man: Biel-Tan, Saim-Hann, Ulthwé, Alaitoc, and Iyanden. Though there are likely other craftworlds still present in the cold of space, these five worlds represent the majority of encounters mankind has had with the enigmatic Eldar.
Biel-Tan, The Swordwind
More than any other Craftworld, the Biel-Tan Eldar put all their effort into returning their people to their former glory. They are a bitter people who are quick to crush any outsiders that stand in the way of this goal. The Biel-Tan Eldar place an enhanced importance on the Path of the Warrior, far greater than any of the other Craftworlds. If the Eldar are to construct a new galactic Empire, the Biel-Tan Eldar know that it will be forged on the battlefield, tempered in strife and quenched in blood. This leads to the Biel-Tan having a much larger number of Exarchs than the other Craftworlds. In fact, the amount of Exarchs has allowed for a special battle formation to be fielded with Biel-Tan forces, the Court of the Young King. This force consists of the deadliest Exarch of each Shrine along with their greatest warriors. They are often accompanied into battle by the Avatar of Khaine, all together forming a maelstrom of slaughter than few enemies can escape.
The Biel-Tan refer to their grand warhost as the Bahzakhain, which has several meanings depending on the inflection, such as "Swordwind", "Tempest of Blades", or "Frozen Leaves Falling to Cut". Whatever its true name, the Bahzakhain is an extremely effective fighting force, eliminating enemies in a single blow using a focused surprise assault empowered by the terrible fighting prowess of the numerous Aspect Warriors. This wave of destruction often leaves the enemy overrun before they even realize they are under assault.
The Biel-Tan Eldar believe that once it is time to found the new Eldar Empire, the primary conquest must be staged from the paradise worlds of the Exodites. As such, any colonisation of these worlds by other races, whether malitious or coincidental, are met with the fury of the Biel-Tan warriors. This view has led the Biel-Tan to despise the barbarous Orks above all the lesser species, as they can easily overrun a planet within an extremely short time of arriving on the surface which their vicious nature and rampant reproduction. In fact, many times the Biel-Tan have arrived to aid a human settlement locked in combat with an Ork horde, most often slaying the humans once the Orks have been dealt with. It is just such occurrences that have led other races to view the Eldar as fickle and untrustworthy creatures. Of course, the Biel-Tan could not care less, viewing the other races as little more than foolish usurpers deserving of nothing more than utter destruction.
The Reborn: The symbol for the Biel-Tan Craftworld is used to represent the ideal of reincarnation, a given for all Eldar before the birth of Slaanesh. Biel-Tan translates to "Rebirth of Ancient Days", the true goal of all the Eldar of this Craftworld.
Saim-Hann, The Wild Host
In the final days of the ancient Eldar Empire, Saim-Hann was among the earliest Craftworlds to abandon the decadent Empire and as such their culture, more than the other main Craftworlds, closely resembles that of the Exodites. They hold fast to a number of practices that cause the other Craftworlds to view them as a barbarous people, placing a great importance on honour. While this allows the Saim-Hann legendary bravery, it also spawns a great stubborn pride which has led to many unnecessary wars and even confrontations with their fellow Craftworlds. The prideful Saim-Hann warriors always strive to honour debts and are quick to form blood bonds with their fellow warriors. There are rumours that these warriors will even drink from each other's wrists during the bonding ceremonies.
The most well known of all the Saim-Hann forces are the Wild Riders. These lightning assault forces careen about on jetbikes, swerving through the battle lines causing disarray among the enemies as they swiftly and surgically destroy the enemy. These warrior cadres can greatly influence the Craftworld as almost every Eldar of Saim-Hann belongs to one of the varied Wild Rider Clans, even the Seers. A Wild Rider chieftain leads each of these clans, riding into battle with his closest family members, their faces painted with blood. Every group of jetbikers or Vyper pilots is comprised of blood relatives, much like the chieftain's unit, and will oftentimes trail banners behind their bikes flaunting their clan runes. The only time a Wild Rider will put aside his blood ties is while he serves in one of the Aspect Shrines as an Eldar must fully devote himself to his shrine, forgetting all other considerations in his pursuit of spiritual balance. As the Saim-Hann often focus heavily on jetbike combat, the Craftworld has a much larger proportion of Shining Spear Aspect Warriors than the other Craftworlds, these fearless lancers riding before the massed Wild Rider hosts.
The Saim-Hann will often travel to the lush worlds of the Exodites to observe archaic rites of passage. As the symbol of Saim-Hann is the serpent, one of the common rites has a young Eldar catch a Daggersnake in mid strike. Drawing on the Daggersnake ritual, the Saim-Hann warhost emulates the serpent strike on the battlefield, waiting for the opportune moment before swiftly jetting toward the softest available target, recoiling before counterblows can land upon them.
Despite the bonds formed between these swift warriors, the Clan-based culture of Saim-Hann often leads to much internal strife. While most other Craftworlds deploy their forces en masse under a single central command, each Wild Rider Kindred, the chieftan's family battle group, is able to decide on a case to case basis whether to support a particular campaign. Fights can erupt among different Kindreds over disagreements about the importance of various ventures. Of course, though their cousins see them as particularly barbaric, the Saim-Hann are still Eldar, so such conflicts will most often play out in ritualised one on one combat between chosen champions. Normally first blood will decide the battle, but the fiercely prideful Saim-Hann will often continue the fight to a fatal conclusion, reinforcing the savage view the other Craftworlds hold of them.
The Cosmic Serpent: Eldar mythology holds the serpent to be the only creature existing simultaneously in the physical and psychic realm. Such an existence is said to show the serpent all secrets. The word "Saim" is translated as snake as well as secret knowledge, with the name of Saim-Hann being used to mean "Quest for Enlightenment". All warriors of Saim-Hann have the image of the serpent tattooed upon their body in some place.
Ulthwé, The Damned
Among the psychically gifted Eldar, none are as powerful as the mighty Seers of Craftworld Ulthwé. These Eldar have taken their place as sentinels over the Eye of Terror, keeping up an elite roster of Farseers and Warlocks, a necessity they see to keep an eye out for the varied guises of Chaos. However, Eldar of the other Craftworlds sometimes say that the Ulthwé have damned themselves, that their increased psychic abilities have spawned from the Eye of Terror's tainted influence.
The psychic abilities of the Ulthwé allow them to predict the future far more precisely than other Eldar, powerful knowledge they use to protect themselves and subvert their enemies. Able to foresee results of various actions far into the future, the Ulthwé will regularly meddle in the affairs of other races to further their own agenda, whether or not the lesser beings are able to understand how the Ulthwé benefit from it. The enigmatic Seer Council of Ulthwé often send their Craftworld's warrior into seemingly unrelated battles for they know that the outcome for these battles will ultimately affect the fate of Ulthwé. Such military strategy has led the more shortsighted races to view the Eldar as being aloof and capricious beings. The Seer Council, however, is capable of grasping the potential devastating effect of the smallest events, and will therefore continue to manipulate the Imperium of Man and others to change history in their favor. Every Seer understands that it is far more favorable for a hundred thousand humans to perish at the hands of fate than for a single Eldar life to be lost, and they will remain vigilant of the future to make it so.
While the powerful battle-psykers of Ulthwé provide an impressive impact on the battlefield, the focus on the Path of the Seer has left Ulthwé with a much smaller reserve of Aspect Warriors than other Craftworlds. The long, perilous Path of the Seer leaves little time for an Eldar to travel the Path of the Warrior, so Ulthwé maintains a very large standing army of Guardians to make up for the lack in specialized forces.
The Eye of Isha: The name Ulthwé is a contraction of "Ulthanesh Shelwe", which translates as the Song of Elthanesh. This song speaks of the endless feuding between the houses of Ulthanash and Eldanesh, the first and greatest children of the fertility goddess Isha and the earliest ancestors of the Eldar. Ulthwé's rune represents the sorrow of Isha at the strife among her Eldar descendants.
Alaitoc, The Starstriders
While all Craftworld Eldar adhere to the tenets of the Path of the Eldar, the Alaitoc follow it with a puritanical zeal unmatched by others, doing everything to avoid outside influence on their ways of life. Such a restrictive environment causes an unusually large number of Eldar in this Craftworld to pursue to Path of the Outcast, either seeking respite from the strictly disciplined regimen or having been banished by their master due to some normally overlooked misdeed. These Outcasts often seek excitement in extremely dangerous sorties in the name of their home, setting the wandering warriors up as the galactic face of Alaitoc.
While they have rejected the restrictive structure of their home, the Outcasts will always stay loyal to Alaitoc. Some of the Outcasts join Corsair fleets, coming to the aid of Alaitoc's navy in times of need, their bright, striking ships darting about the midnight hulls of the main fleet. Others, however, will become Rangers, scouts scouring the battlefields of the galaxy, acting as the hidden eyes and ears of Alaitoc's forces.
Moreso than other Eldar forces, the Alaitoc Rangers hold somewhat of an alliance with the elusive Harlequins. The two groups will sometimes share knowledge with each other concerning the farthest reaches of the Webway, as well as acting in unison as a practiced force of destruction in battle. When war calls, the Alaitoc Rangers will spread far in front of the main force, searching out and disrupting enemy forces, leaving them confused and disheartened as their forces fall as wheat to deadly shadows. Once the main force reaches the enemy, the Aspect Warriors and Harlequins easily sweep through the confused enemy, reduced to a shell of its former power.
Much like the Exarchs of the Aspect Shrines, when an Eldar spends too long a time as a Ranger, he can lose himself in his new world, becoming a Pathfinder. Supernatural in their ability to blend into their surroundings and destroy their targets from great distances, these shadowy assassins revere the Eldar figure called Hoec, he who is said to be one the Webway, and who has walked the paths between planets since the stars themselves were young.
The Rangers of Alaitoc call themselves the Starstriders, and it is through this group the Imperium of man has learned most of what little it truly knows of the Eldar race. The Starstriders do not freely give such knowledge, but being so spread out they are the most likely to be captured and "interrogated" by the Inqusition. As such there is an ongoing war between Alaitoc and the Imperium, though an Imperial commander unfortunate enough to be forced into this conflict is left hunting ghosts, spectres that freely cut down his own men while they return bewildered fire into the darkness.
The Doom of Eldanesh: Eldanesh, the greatest of the legendary Eldar heroes, was slain in battle by the war god Khaine who was enraged by jealousy. The symbol of Alaitoc is composed of the Red Moon, symbol of Eldanesh, being split in half by they sword of Khaine. For many Eldar the Red Moon has become an ill omen, the Alaitoc using it the remind themselves of what happens when mortals offend the gods.
Iyanden, The Ghost Warriors
At one point in history, Iyanden stood as one of the largest and most populous of all the Eldar Craftworlds. However, the Eldar of Iyanden have been devestated in recent times by a terrible war brought upon them by the Tyranid Hive Fleet Kraken. The Hive Fleet moved too quickly for the unprepared Craftworld, and the endless hordes of the Great Devourer descended upon the valiant Eldar forces. Countless Eldar warriors fell to the waves of fangs and claws but, as Iyanden stood on the edge of oblivion, Prince Yriel returned to his home along with his entire formidable Eldritch Raider fleet. The mighty Corsair captain utilized the speed and agility of his naval forces, devastating the hive fleet in space before descending to Iyanden's surface to confront the forces the fleet had already dispatched. While they were eventually able to exterminate the invaders, the losses were too numerous to count, and the Seers of Iyanden say that the days are numbered before the Iyanden Eldar finally disappear from the pages of history.
Having lost such a large percentage of their forces, the Iyanden Warhost is forced to rely upon Wraithguards to form the backbone of their forces. These stoic war machines plod inexorably toward the enemy, with great gleaming Wraithlords scattered about them, along with any Guardians and Aspect Warriors that still live after the terrible conflict with the Tyranids. These living warriors are equipped with the best weapons available on the Craftworld, leftover from the fallen heroes of the Kraken invasion, allowing them to compliment the nigh invulnerable Wraith-constructs with equivalent offensive power. However, putting forth such a powerful force comes a terrible cost, as the mighty war machines are powered by the spirits of Iyanden's own fallen warriors.
While the Seers of Iyanden would much rather prefer to leave their fallen brethren to their rest, their services are sorely needed so the Seers are forced to retrieve their spirit stones from the infinity circuit, placing them into the wraithbone shells of the constructs so that they may defend what survives of their people. To the Eldar this is like necromancy, a deplorable yet necessary process. While the Wraithguards and Wraithlords are extremely durable, if one is somehow destroyed, hopefully its spirit stone can still be recovered so that the hero may be returned to rest, even if only to wait to be called upon again. In this way the dead of Iyanden are trapped in an eternal cycle of war.
Some Seers of Iyanden are quite adept at the process of summoning powerful heroes from the infinity matrix to place within the wraith-constructs as well as helping to guide the semi-aware warriors while on the battlefield. These psykers are called Spiritseers, and the greatest of their ilk is Iyanna Arienal, the Angel of Iyanden. She is always accompanied into battle by a massive Wraithlord animated by the spirit-stone of a once mighty Exarch. Iyanna and her Spiritseer brothers give all they have to ensure that the flame of their Craftworld blaze brightly once more rather than flicker and die in the harsh cold of space.
The Shrine of Asuryan: Oldest and mightiest of the Eldar deities, Asuryan is the father of the gods and the ancestor of all living things. The ever-burning shrine of Asuryan is the flame of hope for the Eldar of Iyanden. The symbol of Iyanden represents this shrine, while the Craftworld's name translates to "Light in the Darkness".
The Eldar Path
Being the oldest living race in the galaxy, the highly advanced technology of the Eldar is often seen as witchcraft even to the other spacefaring races. Though there are countless different varieties of weapons utilized by the warriors of the Craftworlds, they generally fall into one of seven main categories.
The Storm of Blades
The most common of all Eldar weaponry, shuriken weapons are designed to rip apart their target with razor-sharp monomolecular discs. No matter the size of the weapon, they all work in the same basic way. Pulses of energy course down the length of the weapon, shearing off monomolecular slices of a solid ammo core of plasti-crystal material and catapulting it from the end of the barrel.
Examples of this class:
- Shuriken Pistol
- Shuriken Catapult
- Shrieker Cannon
The Weaver of Ruin
Though only utilized by a few specialized units, the Eldar possess an extremely dangerous category of monofilament weapons. These weapons create a dense monofilament mesh from a complex organo-polymer compound which is then fired from thousands of microscopic ducts and normally formed into a deadly net by spinning gravity clamps. Once a victim is encased in this razored net their fate is sealed, as the wires are so sharp his own struggles will cause the net to slice him into a bloody mound of flesh.
Examples of this class:
- Death Spinner
- Spineret Rifle
The Deliverer of Fate
Like all forces in the 41st millenium, the Eldar employ rocket firing weapons to help deal with enemy armor and heavier infantry. However, the Eldar have had time to perfect their missile launchers to utilize complex chambered pods containing different types of ammunition, nearly eliminating the need to reload.
Examples of this class:
- Reaper Launcher
- Tempest Launcher
- Eldar Missile Launcher
The Fury of the Stars
The forces of the Imperium of man utilize plasma based weaponry which are very powerful, but also very dangerous to the user. The Eldar see this as confirmation of the idiocy of man, to utilize a weapon that is as likely to kill the wielder as it is his target. Eldar plasma weaponry can produce the terrible heat of a sun, but sophisticated containment technology keep the weapon cool to the touch. This technology is also used to craft the melta weapons used by the Eldar to render their enemy's tanks into piles of molten metal.
Examples of this class:
- Fusion Gun
The Spear of Light
While other races have developed laser-based weaponry, none come close to the awe-inspiring power of those crafted by the Eldar. Psychically grown crystals are utilized to focus the beams to their optimal potency, allowing them to blast a hole clear through their enemies' largest tanks. These weapons are considered the most elegant of all by many Eldar, taking pride in the fact that their technological advancements have made them master over light itself.
Examples of this class:
- Bright Lance
- Scatter Laser
The Sundered Veil
By far the most dangerous of all Eldar technology, weapons of this category actually allow their user to open a local portal to the chaotic dimension of the warp. Such weapons use warp technology to collapse an area of the material universe, effectively punching a hole in reality. Targets are often swept entirely into the immaterium, but even if they escape such a fate they will likely be torn to shreds by the torrent of malicious energy released about them.
Examples of this class:
The Touch of Death
Even with all the advanced firepower they have at their disposal, Eldar often times must engage their opponents in hand to hand combat. Their long lives allow them to hone their close combat skills to a keen edge, matched only by the vicious blades they use to rend their opponents in twain. From the spinning monomolecular-edged teeth of their chainblades to their powerblades encased in shimmered fields of energy, it is unfortunate that their enemies seldom have long enough to appreciate the skill involved in crafting such weapons.
Examples of this class:
- Scorpion's Claw
Though it is not in itself a weapon, the armour utilized by the Eldar is worthy of note. While other races simply use heavy armor plates of increasing thickness to protect themselves, the Eldar craft their armoured bodysuits from psychically activated materials which stiffen with the impact of a shot or blow. Some of the specialized Aspect warriors have their armour reinforced with moulded plates to deal with the increased opposition they normally must deal with. The psycho-sensitive materials in these suits react to the thoughts and movements of the wearer, allowing them optimal maneuverability without sacrificing protection when it is needed. When greater protection is needed, the Eldar will often utilize force fields, from personal shield projectors to the holo-fields used by their massive grav-tanks and titans. Even more peculiar defensive implements exist, such as the psychic shielding of the rune armour worn by the Seers and the arcane holo-suits of the Harlequins.
Throughout the long history of the Eldar, there have been countless heroes that stood out even among their normally powerful people. There are also extremely powerful entities which live on through new Eldar individuals whenever they may be destroyed in battle, namely the Avatars of Khaine and the Phoenix Lords. Here are some of these important characters.
Eldrad Ulthran, Farseer of Ulthwé
Eldrad Ulthran is a name known to all Eldar. Eldrad was the greatest Farseer of Craftworld Ulthwé, and through his many centuries of life he used his great powers of prophecy countless times to lead his people through the twisting paths of fate to ensure the continued existence of the Eldar. It was Ulthran who guided the armies of Ulthwé against the homeworld of the Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, committing many raids against the Ork clans to shift the balance of power in Ghazghkull's favor rather than another Warlord who would have later led the Orks on a path much more dangerous for the Eldar people. So it was that Eldrad actually facilitated two of the worst wars in the history of the Imperium of Man, as Ghazghkull would eventually bring his hordes to Armageddon, not once but twice, beginning the second and third Wars for Armageddon. Neither human nor ork would ever suspect that this grand conflict was the fulfillment of the meticulous planning of an Eldar Farseer. Such is the way of the Eldar, subtle manipulation of the lesser races to force the time stream into a more favorable outcome for the Eldar, without ever raising the suspicion of those manipulated.
Eldrad enacted numerous acts of subtle heroism to preserve his race. He was the one to prevent the infestation of the Saim-Hann Craftworld by the Hrud, an event which woul have reduced the proud Craftworld to little more than rotting mulch. He was even able to stop the wicked machinations of the risen star gods of the Necron, preventing the Days of Blood from coming to pass.
Of all the prognostications of Eldrad Ulthran, the most important was about the Exodite world of Haran and the opening of a Warp rift in its vicinity. His visions showed that the Chaos Gods would rupture the fabric of space, allowing their forces to pour forth from the Warp into real space. None were sure why the small Exodite world was the chosen target, though it is possible the Chaos Gods had plans to use the ancient Warp tunnels on the planet to infiltrate the Webway, imperiling all other Eldar Craftworlds and Exodite colonies.
When the rift was finally opened, the Chaos Space Marines and their daemonic allies found a great Eldar force prepared for their arrival. Battle was joined all across the surface of Haran, and even though the Eldar were present in great numbers, they were barely able to contain the great hordes of Chaos. Eldrad personally led the forces of Ulthwé, joined by Phoenix Lords and countless Outcasts from all corners of the Galaxy. The rift waxed and waned in size, as vast numbers of daemons sprung forth and were subsequently banished by the Eldar warriors. For months the conflict continued, with the balance of power shifting back and forth, at times the rift threatening to permanentally engulf Haran, at others the rift nearly dissipating completely from the Eldar overpowering their daemonic opposition. At terrible cost, the Eldar were eventually triumphant, and Haran was denied to Chaos. From that point on the planet was known as Haranshemash, or the world of blood and tears.
In his later years, Eldrad became immensely powerful, but also grew apart from the physical world, as all Farseers do, spending days in the Dome of Crystal seers. However, no matter how much he worked to preserve his people, it seemed that his work was doomed to continue unfinished. His final stance in defense of his people came during the Thirteenth Black Crusade, the terrible campaign led by Abaddon the Despoiler of the Chaos Space Marines of the Black Legion. Eldrad personally coordinated the defenses of Craftworld Ulthwé, but the forces of Chaos were immensely powerful. Eldrad came up with one final plan to stop the Despoiler from using his great and ancient Blackstone Fortress from opening a huge gateway into the Warp near the human world of Cadia. In preperation for this mission, Eldrad channelled his consciousness into several waystones and gifted them to his lieutenants to aid in the future guidance of his Craftworld. He then personally led a sortie into the heart of the Blackstone Fortress. Once there, Eldrad entered the psychic matrix of the massive weapon-ship to confront its corrupted daemonic heart head on. In that moment, Eldrad's mortal body was destroyed, and almost all of his waystones became lifeless and dull.
With his final sacrifice, Eldrad passed into the twilight of Eldar legend, to be remembered alongside great figures like Eldanesh and the ancient gods. Eldar see him as a representation of wisdom, foresight, and self-sacrifice. While it seems unfathomable that any single soul might have the strength to escape the grasp of the Warp, few souls have been as powerful as Eldrad Ulthran, and at least Q'sandria, the youngest of Eldrad's disciples, still believes that her master will yet survive his struggle within the heart of the Chaos fleet.
Prince Yriel, Autarch of Iyanden
A heroic and tragic figure, Prince Yriel's persona is made up of many facets. He is the bastard child of the House of Ulthanash, and like his ancestors he is a peerless commander among the Eldar. He has at times been Autarch to Iyanden and Admiral of her fleets, at other times an Outcast Corsair. He has led his warriors to numerous victories, such as the annihilation of the Chaos armada at the Battle of the Burning Moon. His greatest achievement, however, was when he was able to repel the terrifying bio-ships of Hive Fleet Kraken to save Iyanden, though in the process he doomed himself to a slow and terrible death.
Many decades before the Tyranids would be unleashed upon Iyanden, Yriel led the great Iyanden fleet against any who would threaten the Craftworld. Despire not being if pure Iyanden blood, Yriel was admired by all on the Craftworld as the greatest genius to have ever plied the stars. However, Yriel had more flaws than simply his muddied bloodline, the worst of which being his strong pride.
At one time, a terrible Chaos fleet threatened to come into conflict with Iyanden. To keep his people safe, Yriel pitted the entire navy against the chaos ships in a pre-emptive strike, utterly obliterating the Chaos forces, though Iyanden was left unguarded during this time. Yriel was fully expecting a hero's welcome upon his return for stopping the Chaos threat, but upon his arrival he was stripped of his rank due to his terrible recklessness. Incensed over this humiliation, Yriel vowed to never again set foot on Iyanden's surface. Along with a large number of his followers, Yriel became Outcast, a Corsair Prince. However, even in exile his talent and fervor showed through, and in just a few decades his Eldritch Raiders had grown into the most feared Corsair fleet in the galaxy.
When finally the terrible grip of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Kraken began to tighten around Iyanden, crushing her meager defenses, the Farseers came to see the terrible mistake they had made in ousting their navy's single greatest asset. The seemingly endless wave of bio-ships snuffed the last flicker of hope in the hearts of the Iyanden Eldar, and all knew the end was nigh when the hordes of wicked beasts began to infest the surface of mighty Iyanden herself.
At the pinnacle of despair, the Iyanden people would see their liberation come from the heavens. Without warning Yriel's entire Raider fleet cut a swathe through the misshapen hive ships, rushing to defend the people who had forsaken him. His lightning strikes were able to tip the scales in favor of the Eldar fleet, and even through the terrible casualties suffered, the Tyranid menace was finally obliterated.
Despite his prowess among the stars, Yriel did not end the epic battle upon his ship. Near the end Yriel descended to the cracked surface of Iyanden herself to hunt down and kill the leader of the swarm, a great and terrible creature too powerful to be harmed by mortal weaponry. Yriel retrieved the cursed Spear of Twilight from its stasis field within the shrine of his ancestor Ulthanash. The Farseers were gripped with dread at this outcome, for they knew of the terrible power of this weapon, an ancient psychically resonant glaive so powerful as to burn away the soul of any who would use it. With the blazing power of the ancient spear glowing terribly in his fist, Yriel cut down waves of Tyranid creatures until he finally reached the massive leader. After an intense combat, Yriel drove the Spear of Twilight straight through the armored skull of the beast, and the monster let loose a terrible scream of agony, the death knell for the Tyranid forces.
After his heroic deeds, Yriel was once again made Admiral of the fleets of Iyanden, though by saving his people he has doomed himself, as it is impossible to abandon the mystic Spear he used to stop the Tyranid threat. Despite holding the office of Autarch, Yriel still sails the sea of stars in search of a way to restore Iyanden to her former glory before his soul is finallly devoured and he fades into myth alongside his ancestors.
The Avatar of the Bloody-Handed God
The different Craftworlds are as unique as the Eldar who inhabit them, differing in size, shape, and architectural makeup. However, at the core of every one of them is a solitary chamber of wraithbone. Within this ancient vault is a smouldering throne, upon which sits a menacing iron statue, an Avatar of Kaela Mensha Khaine, the Bloody-Handed God. Gazing into the eyes of one of these terrifying momuments is like staring into the void itself.
However, a terrible change occurs in this chamber when the Eldar prepare for war. The psychically resonant wraithbone of the chamber begins to pulse violently, echoing the ancient battle-lust of the newly self restrained warrior culture. Molten iron begins to flow through the Avatar like blood, causing it to hiss like a furnace and glow with fiery anger.
When the battle-lust has reached its peak, a psychic roar is sent out from the core of the Avatar, echoing throughout the Craftworld and calling the Exarchs of the various Aspect Temples to congregate, bringing with them the Young King, an Aspect Warrior chosen by the Farseers. This blessed warrior is called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice, standing naked before the chamber, wearing a wreath of thorny brambles upon his brow, his body covered with the blood-runes of Khaine.
The Exarchs take part in an ancient ceremony, stirring the Bloody-Handed God to life. All Eldar of the Craftworld feel the blood-thirstiness of their ancient god in their mind, ever rising until in an instant, the great doors of the Avatar's throne room are thrown open by an invisible force. The sound of splintering iron pierces the ear of all those upon the craftworld, and the intense light that burns forth from the chamber probe through closed eyelids directly into the mind. Amid this intense cacophany, the Young King strides forth into the chamber, and at last the great bronze gates close behind him, finally sealing his fate.
For hours after this ceremony, the blood curdling screams of the Young King are mercifully smothered by the booming of the ancient furnace, until at last both are silenced. Immediately afterwards a terrible howl of inhuman agony sounds and the doors of the throne room are blasted apart by an awesome psychic shockwave, and amid the conflagration the blazing Avatar steps forth into the Craftworld, ready to crush all who oppose the Eldar.
The incarnation of an ancient god, the Avatar is a terrible sight to behold. Molten iron flows through his veins, bubbling up, bursting and solidifying into new armored skin, the smoke and cinders encircling him like a crown. The mythic weapon of Khaine, the Wailing Doom, is held aloft in his right hand, the glowing runes along its blade writhing as though trying to escape his vicious grasp, while his left gauntlet weeps endlessly with viscous red gore.
None but the Farseers know of the true fate of the Young King, and they dare not speak on the subject. One might hope that his spirit lives on eternally, absorbed into the great spirit of their ancient god of war. However, it is more likely that the mystic fire cremates him entirely, his soul obliterated from existence, little more than a sacrifice to the ruthless Khaine.
The Phoenix Lords
Among the Aspect Temples of the Eldar stalk the Exarchs, the most powerful of Aspect Warriors, Eldar lost along the path of the warrior. The forebears of these terrifying individuals, the most ancient and powerful Exarchs, are known as the Phoenix Lords. These demigods of battle are embodiments of the Warrior, just as the Avatar is the living incarnation of Kaela Mensha Khaine, the Bloody-Handed God.
Even among the ancient Phoenix Lords none is as old as Asurmen, the Hand of Asuryan, the Phoneix King, father and king of the ancient Eldar pantheon. At the time of the Fall, Asurmen led his people into exile, abandoning their world to the Warp. Upon the barren world they eventually settled, he founded the Shrine of Asur, the first of the Aspect Temples. From this shrine were spawned the first of the Aspect Warriors, and the path of the Warrior was opened to the Eldar people. These warriors learned well the different aspects of war from their master, and in turn they became Exarchs, and went on to teach what they had learned at the feet of the Asurmen.
Those first Exarchs were known as the Asurya, and each would go to found their own Aspect Temple, each Temple embodying the skills and specialties of its founder. Thus were the Warrior Aspects as they are known today formalized, and as the Craftworlds took to plying the stars, great shrines were built to carry forth the teachings of the Asurya.
Much like their followers the Exarchs, the Phoenix Lords are, in a way, immortal. Should one of these mighty warriors die on the field of battle, a new Eldar is chosen to don the armor and take on the identity of the Phoenix Lord, thus allowing the Asurya to be reborn into a new cycle of existence. However, while those who take up the mantle of an Exarch have their consciousness infused with those who came before them, a Phoenix Lord's mind is forever the same, as the new minds are subjugated to the powerful personalities of the first and greatest to wear the suit.
While the Exarchs of the Aspect Temples are bound to their individual shrines, the Phoenix Lords roam the galaxy, never bound to any Craftworld. In times long past, they were worshipped as gods in the shrines of their homeworlds, but this is naught but a distant memory, as all those worlds hae either been destroyed or taken by some terrible disaster. To this day, the warriors of the Aspect Temples keep alive the heroic tales of the Asurya, nurturing the legends of heros not yet lost to the Eldar. While a Phoenix Lord will often vanish for centuries or even millenia, they will eventually reappear where they are needed most, defending the Eldar against the greatest threats the galaxy has to offer.
-Asurmen, the Hand of Asuryan
The first Phoenix Lord is the sire of the Dire Avengers. In his time he founded Shrines on more Craftworlds than any of the Asurya. Soon after his disciples went out to found their own temples, Asurmen vanished from his world, though tales of his exploits continued unabated. Tales of him battling the Great Enemy from the Eye of Terror all the way to the galaxy's rim spread, and all knew the valour with which he fought.
Asurmen's armor has unique shuriken weapons attached to his vambraces, allowing him to fire with either hand without loss of accuracy. Having the catapults mounted to his arms also frees him up to grasp his power sword with both hands. Asurmen wields no ordinary blade, but the Sword of Asur, the first diresword, mounted with the spirit stone of Asurmen's fallen brother Tethesis, so he may continue to slay the foul servants of the Great Enemy until the end of days.
The DIre Avengers follow the balanced teachings of their forefather. While not utilizing extremely specialized equipment like other Aspects, the intense and disciplined training left by Asurmen for the Dire Avengers allows to rise above the limitations of their basic weaponry.
-Jain Zar, the Storm of Silence
When the first Aspect Warriors were selected by Asurmen, Jain Zar was chosen for her speed and ferocity, and thus she became the first of the Asurya. Jain Zar travelled the width and breadth of the webway, sharing her skills with the Eldar and leading many others on the path of the Warrior. Soon all of the larger Craftworlds had shrines to the Howling Banshees, with numerous Exarchs ready to teach the ways of Jain Zar to the younger generations.
While all the Phoenix Lords established shrines throughout the Craftworlds, Jain Zar remains the most devoted to the shrines. She still travels the webway, visiting all the shrines she founded and nurturing her spiritual descendants. While like the other Phoenix Lords she might disappear for centuries at a time, the Banshees know she will always return to them, and thus maintain a constant vigil for the deadly mistress.
Jain Zar is defined by her great speed and supple movement, aspects echoed by each of her Howling Banshee daughters, and she was the first to master the Scream that Steals. On the field of battle Jain Zar wields two weapons, an ornate executioner power weapon known as the Blade of Destruction, and the Silent Death, a tri-bladed throwing weapon that always returns to its master's hand in a glittering arc.
-Baharroth, the Cry of the Wind
The progenitor of the Swooping Hawks Aspect Warriors, Baharroth was the youngest and most vibrant of the Phoenix Lords. There is a brotherly bond between Baharroth and Maugan Ra much like that between the sun and the moon, and untold numbers of the most dangerous foes of the Eldar have fallen to their blades. Since the days Baharroth learned the ways of war from Asurmen, he has been reborn many times. A great number of battlefields have fallen under his furious gaze, and innumerable enemies have been felled by his winged might.
Baharroth's name means the Cry of the Wind, a suiting title for this master of flight, capable of moving with the subtlety of a zephyr whilst attacking with the force of a hurricane. His weapons of choice are a wicked curved power sword and a powerful hawk's talon lasblaster.
It is foretold that the final fall of Baharroth will come fighting alongside the other Phoenix Lords at the Rhana Dandra, the final confrontation between Chaos and the physical universe ending with the destruction of both.
-Karandras, the Shadow Hunter
Of all the Phoenix Lords, none is as mysterious as Karandras. None even know where his original shrine lays, but it was perhaps on one of the many smaller Craftworlds that survived the Fall only to be destroyed soon after. Karandras is an Exarch of the Striking Scorpions Aspect, though unlike his brothers he is not the first. That honor belongs to Arhra the Father of Scorpions, the most sinister of all the Phoenix Lords, the Fallen Phoenix who burns with the dark light of Chaos. After the fall of Arhra, Karandras took his place, tempering the murderous nature of his forebear with the patience of the hunter.
Of the Striking Scorpion Aspect Warriors, none has a more potent sting than their master Karandras. Using both a scorpion claw and chainblade, Karandras can rend his target in twain before they even know they are being hunted. Karandras' helm is equipped with the Scorpion's Bite, mandiblasters many times more powerful than any used by other Striking Scorpions. Such is his mastery of shadows and his deadly arsenal that few living souls have even layed eyes upon him, at least of those that still live today.
-Fuegan, the Burning Lance
Fuegan learned the various aspects of war in the Shrine of Asur in days long past, in the ancient time of the founding of the Aspect Shrines. Fuegan went on to found the shrines of the Fire Dragons, teaching his followers to wage war with fire and flame. Legends say that when the Shrine of Asur was destroyed by the Fallen Phoenix Arhra, Fuegan refused to flee, and he was thought lost to antiquity until suddenly appearing to aid the Eldar at the final battle of Haranshemash, the world of blood and tears. After the conclusion of that great battle, Fuegan agained disappeared into the Webway, and since he has stalked through it hidden tunnels, tracking down and obliterating the ancient enemies of his people. It is said that at the time of the Rhana Dandra it will be Fuegan who calls together the Phoenix Lords for battle, and he will also be the last to die.
When Fuegan goes to war he does so armed with a massive and vicious firepike, as well as the Fire Axe, an ancient weapon that still glows bright red with the heat of its forging. Since the day it was made this mighty weapon has never cooled, and the runes along its blade still writhe in intense agony, a great pain they willingly inflict on even the largest of Fuegan's foes.
-Maugan Ra, the Harvester of Souls
Among the many Craftworlds that survived the fall, Altansar was one of the unfortunate worlds to be caught in the gravity well of the Eye of Terror after riding out the psychic shockwave that decimated the ancient Eldar homeworlds. Although they fought tirelessly against the tides of Chaos, the Eldar of Altansar were unable to escape their fate, and within a few centuries of the fall their Craftworld was fully engulfed by the Warp. Not a single Eldar escaped the terrible maw of the Warp save for the Phoenix Lord Maugan Ra, the Harvester of Souls, the greatest and most terrible Exarch of the Dark Reapers.
When the Asurya learned war from their master Asurmen, Maugan Ra strayed far from the paths followed by his brethren. He went on to craft ornate and occult implements of war; not the blades of the other Phoenix Lords, but dark and baleful artifacts capable of decimating his foes from afar. As he progressed down this path, he came to find that even the most potent weapon could be used with the precision of a scalpel. The pinnacle of his art led to the creation of the Maugetar, known as the Harvester, and eventually to the disciplines of the Dark Reaper aspect itself. To this day Maugan Ra wields the Maugetar, a great shuriken cannon with an executioner power weapon built into it, a mighty gun capable of tearing apart any who oppose the Harvester of Souls.
The most dangerous and confusing path of all is that of the Seer, as acting as a psyker involves an intimate connection to the Warp. If one advances too quickly along this path then he is most certainly lost, as the voracious beasts of the Warp will certainly hone in on such a powerful mind and consume his soul. Even if an Eldar is able to protect his mind from the Warpspawn while on this path, he can still be lost within the path itself, much like the Exarchs of the Warrior Path. An Eldar who traverses too far down the witch path will become a Farseer.
Farseers possess a great prescience, and as such act as the top advisors for those who determine the path of the Craftworld. Even while on the battlefield a Farseer can practice his divinations, using his wraithbone runestones to explore past, present, and future, directing his allies down the path to assured victory. He can use his powers to lift the veil from his enemies plans, using their own preconceptions against them to mislead them, opening them up to calculated assaults by waiting Eldar forces. Even though he is immensely useful behind the lines, a Farseer is more than capable of holding his own at the forefront of a heated conflict, watching the streams of time to gracefully flow around his enemies attacks all while preparing strikes to openings in the enemy's defense before they even exist.
When an Eldar who has previously walked the Path of the Warrior moves to the witch paths, they stand upon the Path of the Warlock, a path designed to meld their former martial training with great destructive psychic powers. In fact, the grand runic helmets worn by the Warlocks are housed within the Aspect Shrines. Thus a Warlock must partake in a ritual where he is presented his helmet by his former master before he can act as a true warrior-seer.
Warlocks learn to weave war runes just as others on the witchpath, as well as mastering the use of the witchblade. These mighty Eldar weapons pulse with the energy of living runes which draw on the mental force of the wielder, focusing it into every strike of the sword. On the battlefield the warlocks stand shoulder to shoulder with the warriors of their craftworld, using their powers to bolster their allies and soften their foes before delivering the killing blow. A Warlock is not as powerful a psyker as a Farseer, but he is more than a match for any psyker among the ranks of the lesser races.
With so few Eldar left alive in the galaxy, every citizen is needed when an outside force threatens a Craftworld. As such, all civilians are given some basic weapons and tactical training, forming into Guardian squads to protect their people in times of war. The Aspect Warriors are far too few to overcome the great hordes they must face, so the Guardians will valiantly join them on the front lines.
Though not as durable as most of the Aspect Warriors' armor, Guardians wear similar suits formed from the same flexible psycho-reactive material, allowing for fluid motion while hardening under impact to protect the wearer. The Guardians use their unrestricted mobility to take up tactical positions in preparation for the lumbering foes they must face.
Depending upon the needs of their commander, Guardians carry different types of weapons. A Guardian Defender squad act as long range support for the Aspect Warriors, carrying shuriken catapults to keep enemies away while utilizing heavy weapons on anti-gravity platforms to pick off targets of opportunity. Though less common, the members of a Guardian Storm squad carry shuriken pistols and close combat weapons, advancing with the Aspect Warriors to give weight to their assaults. It is a testament to the skill and technology of the Eldar that even their civilians are capable of engaging an enemy army and emerging victorious.
When the Eldar go to war, they are led by the Autarchs, masters of the art of war. Every Autarch has mastered several different Eldar paths, including at least one of the Warrior paths. During their time traversing the various paths all Autarchs begin to develop a passion for command and strategy.
While most Eldar seek martial excellence in swirling melees on the battlefield, Autarchs understand that true excellence involves getting a wider view of battle and directing forces together down the most efficient path to victory. The need to weave all the varied missions into a single battle plan and subsequently use those to create an overarching war plan is known as the Path of Command. Walking this path, Autarchs emulate the mythical leaders of the great Houses, such as Eldanesh, Ulthanash, and Bierellian.
An Autarch is able to intimately understand the abilities of the various warrior types in an Eldar army, allowing him an unparalleled strategic ability, something an Exarch could not achieve, being so obsessed with the one facet of war represented by his Aspect Shrine. With an Autarch at the helm, an Eldar warhost can function as a single entity, all the varied components working in perfect harmony with one another. Of course, an Autarchs mastery of war extends beyond the commander's chair. An Autarch will often be at the forefront of an assault, effortlessly decimating enemy warmachines or taking on enemy commanders in single combat. Having traveled down warrior paths in their past, Autarchs will often utilize the weapons and tools they once used to serve their Aspect Shrine, unleashing swaths of fire from Reaper Launchers and Mandiblasters, or using Warp jump generators or Swooping Hawk wings to zip around the battlefield.
The earliest of all the Aspect Shrines is that of the Dire Avengers. They represent the War God Khaine as a noble warrior, and will never stop in their efforts to defend their people against the savage races of the galaxy.
Being the oldest Aspect Warriors, Dire Avengers are also the most common among the Craftworlds. While all the other Aspects cover very specialized battlefield roles, the Dire Avengers are equally adept at pressing the attack and holding fast against a tidal wave of foes. One legend tells of a lone squad of Dire Avengers standing their ground against a torrent of vicious daemons so their brethren could escape from danger, a valorous sacrifice regularly echoed by all Dire Avengers.
Dire Avengers carry modified shuriken catapults and are trained to work together to form an inescapable storm of monomolecular blades. The Dire Avengers consider the use of these razor discs an art form, and even when outside the shrine will carry some of the blades under their robes, so even a seemingly unarmed Dire Avenger can quickly dispatch an unaware opponent.
Dire Avenger Exarchs can carry the same Avenger Shuriken catapults used by their followers, but are also known to use Shuriken Pistols and Direswords, a power weapon with the spirit stone of a fallen Eldar in the hilt, allowing the sword to burn the mind of the enemy as it eviscerate their body. They also will carry Shimmershields, an arm mounted field projector that protects the Exarch and his squad.
In Eldar myth, the banshee is a harbinger of woe and death, and their screams have the power to rip an Eldar soul right from its spirit stone. Therefore, there is little surprise the most terrifying of the Aspects Warriors would model themselves after these monsters.
Legend says that Khaine was granted the Aspect of the Banshee by the Crone Goddess Morai-Heg. Her blood contained boundless wisdom, so to partake of it she needed the aid of the one being who could harm a god. She sent her daughters, the Banshees, to torment their father Khaine with their wailing screams. the Crone promised to end this torment if Khaine would cut off her hand, allowing her to drink of her own lifeblood. Thus, Morai-Heg gained the knowledge of blood and Khaine received the Aspect of the Banshee.
Howling Banshee Aspect Warriors specialize in hand to hand combat, using their great speed and agility to close with the sluggish foes they face. The helms of the Banshees house psychosonic amplifiers, morphing their battle screams into psionic shockwaves used to crush the psyche of their foes. The force damages their target's central nervous system, causing them to be gripped with terror and temporary paralysis. With a full squad of Banshees, their screams can incapacitate an enemy squad without having to strike a single blow.
While these female warriors don't have the strength of some other close combat warriors, they use their speed and precision to deadly effect on the battlefield. They carry shuriken pistols to harass the enemy as they close to combat range, where they can utilize their sleek powerswords to dismantle their foes with grace and ease. Some Exarchs use massive power glaives known as Executioners instead of the power sword of their sisters, a weapon capable of rending their enemies in twain with a single swipe. The Triskele is another, more exotic weapon sometimes utilized by Exarchs, a smaller three bladed power weapon that can thrown in great coruscating arcs, slashing through any soldiers unfortunate enough to be within range. Finally, some Exarchs practice a difficult but deadly ambidextrous sword-form, foregoing their shuriken pistol for a second power sword. These graceful killers spin through the enemy, disemboweling entire squads in only a handful of swift movements.
Dragons of Eldar mythology are much like most recognized ideas of dragons, massive, sinuous, fire-breathing reptiles. These beasts represent wanton destruction, the and the Fire Dragon Aspect Warriors embrace the ideal of their namesake whole heartedly. Aggressive and warlike, the Fire Dragons are single minded in their mission to utterly obliterate whatever their current target may be. Masters of heat weapons, the Dragons take savage glee in the devastation they unleash on the foe. So strong is the fire in their souls that it is said their Exarchs exude a corona of lambent flame around themselves when the battle lust takes them.
The Fire Dragons fill an important role on the battlefield, using their mighty heat weapons to assault enemy strongholds and war machines, or igniting heavy troops and weapon emplacements like so much kindling. The standard Dragons carry compact fusion guns, short ranged beam weapons capable of reducing the thickest of armor into molten slag in mere moments. When a squad of Fire Dragons must assault a heavy target, they utilize disc-shaped melta bombs which can be attached to any surface and then detonated by a word. These bombs can easily blow a hole in a reinforced rockcrete wall, allowing the Dragon's allies to take on the newly exposed enemies inside. Exarchs have to specialized weapons at their disposal. The Firepike is similar to the fusion guns of the Fire Dragons, but with a much longer barrel, significantly increasing its range. The Exarch can also take the Dragon's Breath Flamer, a flamethrower weapon giving the squad some anti-infantry power, allowing them to be more self sufficient.
Like the Howling Banshees, the Striking Scorpions Aspect Warriors specialize in close combat. The Scorpions will destroy any enemy they meet without mercy, taking great pleasure in the both the kill and the hunt leading up to it. The Scorpions' most sinister aspect is the legacy of their former master Arhra, stealthily skulking through the shadows, a silent doom belied by the wrath with which they fall upon the target once it is in range.
While the Howling Banshees use acrobatic prowess to approach their enemy, the Scorpions wear heavier armour plates making them much slower than their wailing sisters. To reach close combat range the Scorpions instead stalk through dense terrain, skillfully moving between hiding places, every step bringing them closer to their prey. When the time is right the Striking Scorpions will fall upon their unfortunate target with shuriken pistols and scorpion chainswords, terrible blades covered with a spinning series of diamond toothed edges designed to mangle and rend the flesh of their foe.
The weapons that truly sets the Striking Scorpions apart are the mandiblasters, weapon pods mounted on either side of the Aspect Warrior's helmet. While the Scorpions are engaged in a swirling melee, the mandiblasters assault their enemy with deadly energy stings. The psychically activated weapons deliver a torrent of needle-thin implements use to conduct highly charged lasers to the target. The mandiblasters, combined with the ferocity of the Scorpions, can easily rip the heart out of any enemy force.
Exarchs of the Striking Scorpions Aspect Shrines have three weapon options not available to their lower ranked brothers. They can wear a Scorpion's Claw opposite their standard scorpion chainsword. This is a powered claw-like gauntlet with a built in shuriken catapult. Some Exarchs also train in the use of Chainsabres, a set of twin chainblades matched with archaic gauntlets each housing a shuriken pistol, turning the single Exarch into a storm of destruction. Finally, an Exarch may carry a Biting Blade, a massive two handed chain blade that tears through flesh, muscle, and bone as though it were simple parchment. The users of this weapon are often exceptionally ferocious, their adrenaline making them ever stronger as they cut through swaths of their cowering opponents.
Of all the Warrior Aspects, the most menacing is that of the Dark Reapers, incarnations of Khaine as a destroyer. They wear terrible masks made to appear as skulls in the fashion of the original Reaper, the Phoenix Lord Maugan Ra, the Harvester of Souls. They wear night-black armour covered in interlocking plates, disallowing them the speed of the other Aspect Warriors. However, their role of fire support does not require them to be as mobile as the others, while the added protection is quite useful.
Maugan Ra, father of the Dark Reapers, teaches his children that the kiss of death can be delivered from afar as well as in heated close combat. This is the ideal around which the way of the Reaper is centered. Their most sacred artifact is their Reaper Launchers, long-barreled weapons with multiple missile tubes, capable of unleashing a terrible firestorm with every salvo. It fires powerful armor-piercing missiles capable of decimating all but the most well-protected targets.
The greatest asset of the Dark Reaper is his impeccable accuracy. Intense training combines with powered limb support, advanced sensor vanes, and weapon mind-links to allow the Reapers to lay waste to any target on the battlefield, unleashing an endless stream of perfectly targeted missiles to pin down the enemy force while blowing it apart piece by piece.
A Dark Reaper Exarch can take one of several weapons other than the standard Reaper Launcher should the need arise. The Tempest Launcher is an ancient and more powerful form of the Reaper Launcher, firing powerful clusters of smaller missiles capable of bringing indiscriminate destruction to an area. He can also carry a Shuriken Cannon to war, allowing him to keep any marauding infantry at bay while his followers unleash their deadly weapons on more important targets. Finally, he can also take a hand held version of the Eldar Missile Launcher normally mounted on Eldar vehicles, allowing him unmatched firepower.
The Swooping Hawks represent vengeance and retribution like their namesake, the mighty hunting birds of Eldar mythology. The ancient Eldar believed that when an Eldar was murdered, his soul would inhabit a hawk, hovering over the killer to mark him out as guilty. While these birds were said to allow others to bring justice to the unworthy, the Aspect Warriors of the Swooping Hawks Aspect Shrine tend towards a much more active role in the doom of their foe. At any moment the Swooping Hawks may launch high into the air, as their wings are constructed from vibrating feather plates with integrated gravitic lifters. When in use these wings vibrate so vigorously they transform into a blur of color.
The Swooping Hawks carry Lasblasters, a light laser weapon far more advanced than the clumsy lasguns used by man. They also carry special grenade packs which they use to rain destruction down on foes as they soar overhead. These packs contain anti-personnel grenades as well as haywire grenades capable of disabling enemy war machines. If an Exarch needs more firepower, he can replace his Lasblaster with one of two other weapons. The Hawk's Talon is a much more powerful version of the Lasblaster, allowing him to hold his own should the enemy present heavier armor than the standard weapon can deal with. The Sunrifle, in contrast, is similar in power to the Lasblaster, but can lay down a withering hail of fire, cutting down great numbers of light enemies with the speed of a true hawk.
Within the Infinity Circuits of Eldar Craftworlds, there are small crystalline spiders known as Warp Spiders. These dazzling yet aggressive creatures will hunt down any invasive psychic entities that may threaten the sanctity of the Infinity Circuit. To accomplish this goal, the spiders are capable of melting themselves into the psychic aether of the Circuit, reappearing where they are needed. It is from these amazing creatures that the Warp Spider Aspect Warriors take their name.
The doctrine of the Warp Spider Aspect Shrine is that of the aggressive defender. All Warp Spiders wear compact warp-generators on their backs, allowing them to make short warp-jumps, shifting around the battlefield, going where they are needed. This allows them unprecedented advantages, as they can assault an enemy from any direction at any time, though there is a terrible price for this power. These Jumps require an Eldar to spend a short amount of time within the nightmare realm of the warp, where Slaanesh waits to take their souls for eternal torture. As they risk their very souls along with their lives, the Warp Spiders are considered the bravest of all the Aspect Warriors.
The Warp Spiders are a unique bunch, and this is reflected in the weapons they carry. The standard armament for a Warp Spider is the Death Spinner, a weapon which exudes a cloud of razor-sharp monofilament wires, which is then spun into a deadly web by the magnetic clamps at the end of the barrel and hurled towards the intended target. When a target is wrapped in this webbing, only the thickest armor may save them, as their own struggle to free themselves will cause the wires to tighten, slicing through flesh and bone, causing a most painful and messy demise. When a Warp Spider Exarch takes to the field, he will often carry two such weapons on mechanical arms attached to his torso, along with two powered blades attached to his forearms. If the need arises he has access to the Spinneret Rifle, a different web-based weapon which fires a single strand of the razor wire at extreme velocity, which can punch straight through thick armor and then recoil in a tight spiral, mincing the unfortunate host of said armor.
Far more rare than most other Aspect Warriors, the Shining Spears represent the mighty spear of the war god Kaela Mensha Khaine, a weapon swift as lightning yet strong enough to fell any foe in a single strike. When the Shining Spears go to war, they do so atop sleek jetbikes, the anti-gravitic motors letting the Spears freely skim over any battlefield at lightning speed. The intense training of his shrine allows a Spear to be so in tune with his mount he can effortlessly execute complex aerial maneuvers at breakneck speed, darting every which way so that not even the greatest marksman may hope to hit the Shining Spear.
The ritual armament of a Shining Spear is know as the Laser Lance, an elongated weapon capable of firing intense short range jolts of energy, the Spears firing at point blank range as they charge into the enemy. The Shining Spears use their speed and short range power to excel at hit-and-run assaults, relentlessly firing into the enemy as they zoom past before turning to attack from a new direction. The Exarchs who lead the Shining Spears carry a much more powerful version of the Laser Lance, the Star Lance, named for the weapon wielded by mighty Asuryan himself as he strode the battlefield on the back of his flying steed.
An Eldar Rangers is among the greatest scouts in the galaxy, and possesses the eye of an expert marskman. While Eldar walk the path of the Outcast to escape the rigid structure of the Eldar Craftworlds, most Outcasts will always remain loyal to their Craftworld and its traditions. These loyal Outcasts are the Rangers, and will often garner quests from the Seers of their Craftworld so they may serve their people in absentia. While exploring the galaxy, many Rangers die, alone and forgotten by their people, while some will succomb to the call of their darker side, becoming consumed by the passion that caused their race's fall. Others still will continue to be successful, eventually exorcising their wanderlust, returning to their Craftworld and the Path of the Eldar. The Rangers serve a variety of purposes, investigating alien worlds, searching for lost portals to the Webway, seeking out maiden worlds, and hunting down known threats to their Craftworld's survival. Often Seers will task Rangers with retrieving some powerful artifact, or the spirit stone of a fallen warrior. Of all the roles played by the Rangers, the most important is that of their Craftworld's eyes, keeping watch for any potential enemy, reporting back any sign of danger to the Craftworld.
In contrast to the elaborate and colorful armours of the Aspect Warriors, Rangers wear muted, practical costumes derived from the Exodite worlds, and will not go out of their way to polish and keep up their armor like others, the well-traveled appearance aiding in the ability to blend into their environment. However, the most characteristic, and most important, piece of their attire is the long chameleoline cloak they wear over top their armor, a sophisticated yet hardy garment allowing a Ranger to perfectly blend into his surroundings. When battle calls, Rangers from a given Craftworld will form up into small groups, taking up positions overlooking the battlefield where they can use their long rifles to deadly effect. The keen eyes of the Rangers allow the bolts from these energy weapons to find the eye sockets and neck joints of even the most heavily armoured troops.
While most Rangers who survive long enough eventually return to their Craftworld to travel the Path of the Eldar, some Eldar's destiny lies out among the wilds. These experienced Rangers become Pathfinders, walking the path of the Ranger until they can go no further. While Eldar Rangers are extremely adept scouts and huntsmen, the Pathfinders are unparalleled in these areas. they can swiftly move along even the most difficult terrain without even making a sound. They may appear anywhere they are needed, decimating a squad of infantry with perfectly placed shots from their rifles before silently melting back into the shadows. They are truly as ghosts, spectres that effortlessly transform their enemies into the same.
While most Eldar left in the galaxy ply the stars aboard one of the many Craftworlds, the Harlequins stand apart. These aloof Eldar are servants of the Laughing God, and they are mysterious creatures even to other Eldar. They draw no distinction between art and war, performing their legendary masques on the battlefield, drawing their doomed enemies into the storytelling.
When Craftworld Eldar die, their souls are trapped within soulstones to protect them from Slaanesh, waiting for a Seer to release their soul into the Infinity Matrix of their Craftworld. However, the Harlequins do not need soul stones for when they die they become one with the Laughing God. While it is unfortunate to lose any Eldar life, every Harlequin that joins the Laughing God increases his strength, so that one day perhaps he will be strong enough to return and destroy Slaanesh.
While the Harlequins call no Craftworld home, they constantly wander the Webway, and will sometimes visit the various Craftworlds, sharing the legendary tales of the Eldar through acrobatic performances. It is even rumored that the Harlequins even perform for the fallen Dark Eldar in their twilight city of Commorragh. DUring these performances, each Harlequin plays the role of one of the varied figures of Eldar legend, acting out stylized versions of the great stories.
The Harlequins always wear their exotic and colorful costumes along with shimmering holosuits known as dathedi. These holosuits are mainly defensive implements similar to the holo fields used on Eldar tanks. The suit blurs the wearer's outline, and when he moves it explodes into a scintillating cloud of tiny fragments, his image once again coalescing into a solid image when he stops. In battle these effects make it nearly impossible for enemies to draw a bead on a Harlequin. The Harlequins also wear anti-gravitic flip belts to increase their acrobatic prowess, allowing them to lithely dart along any terrain, gleefully flipping and flitting across the battlefield to meet their foes face to face where the true Dance of Death can begin.
Having devoted themselves entirely to the Laughing God and to spreading the legends of the Eldar, the Harlequins no longer show their true faces to anyone, instead wearing masks which can react to the wearer's psychic signals, changing its appearance according to his will. On the battlefield, these masks reflect the worst nightmares of any who dare look upon them.
While the more common Harlequins use power weapons and shuriken pistols like their Eldar cousins, there are two specialized weapons of note only available to a member of a Harlequin troupe. The first of these weapons is the Fusion Pistol, and weapon similar to the fusion guns of the Fire Dragon Aspect Warriors, but small enough to be held in one hand, though it loses no power for its ease of use. The second weapon is a terrifying close combat implement known as the Harlequin's Kiss. This weapon is a tube with a sharp point attached to a Harlequins forearm, inside of which is coiled a monofilament razor wire much like those used in the weapons of the Warp Spider Aspect Warriors. When a Harlequin closes with an enemy, he can punch the sharpened tube into his opponent, allowing the wire to uncoil, quickly reducing the target's insides to a gory soup.
A Harlequin Troupe consists mostly of regular Harlequins, some of which are known as Mimes, though Mimes are only different from the others in the roles they play during the great shows. Within the troupe, however, there are a few notably different positions. The Troupe Master is an older Harlequin who leads the others in performance both on and off the battlefield. Shadow Seers and Death Jesters are both specialized units on the battlefield, bringing some tactical flexibility to the Troupe. Finally, there are the Solitaires. The Solitaires are few in number, for theirs is a doomed existence.
The Solitaires travel alone, seeking out new recruits for the Troupe. However, even with this important task they are both feared and pitied by the other Harlequins, for the Solitaire's role in the legendary Harlequin tales is that of the Great Enemy, Slaanesh, and taking on this role means that his soul is doomed to pass onto Slaanesh once he dies. While there is still a chance for a Solitaire's soul to be saved through one of the Laughing God's tricks, this seldom works, so most Solitaire's must endure eternal torment at the Great Enemy's hands.
- Shadow Seers are psykers who's power is focused around confusion and fear. They use their potent psychic power along with their specialized creidann grenade launching backpacks to create elaborate hallucinations and visual effects. During the masques, Shadowseers act as the storytellers, all the while using their powers to create phantoms that dance and duel in the air. While on the battlefield, though, they can thrust their opponents into a world of unimaginable terror, or simply erase his Troupe's existence from the enemy's senses completely.
- Death Jesters act as heavy support for the Harlequins on the battlefield. They are sinister and terrifying warriors who stand apart from other Harlequins and even each other. Their costumes always feature skulls, bones, and symbols of death prominently, and are even sometimes decorated with the bones of fallen Jesters. In comparison to the other Harlequins, Jesters have a very morbid sense of humor, their mocking laughter a death knell for their cowering foes. They often carry the terrifying Shrieker Cannon, a shuriken weapon that fires shurikens loaded down with vicious genetic toxins, causing targets to rupture and explode in a spectactular, if messy, fashion.
Eldar War Machines
There are several impressive machines utilized by the Eldar when they go to war. Their advanced technology allows even their largest tanks to hover gingerly over the battlefield, and they can utilize the soulstones of their fallen brethren to power machine warriors constructed from the psychically charged wraithbone the Eldar use to construct all their weapons and armor.
The Eldar Jetbike is a sleek, slender machine using anti-gravitic motors to propel a single operator across the battlefield. Artistically crafted marvels of engineering, these machines are capable of such speed that only the advanced reaction speed of an Eldar allow it to be ridden safely.
While the Eldar normally try to avoid any emotional highs, mastering the jetbike is often seen as a quite exhilarating challenge. Curved aerodynamic vanes on each side of the machine allow the rider to make incredibly sharp turns, and the anti-grav drives can be manipulated to allow for startlingly sharp ascension and descension. While mastery of such a mount takes several years even for the advanced Eldar, a true master develops a bond with his steed in the spirit of the legendary Eldar horsemasters spoken of in the ancient tales.
In battle, jetbike riders serve two main purposes. They use their speed and agility to scout ahead of the main force early in a battle, but once battle has been joined the riders act as a quick response strike force, jetting towards any target threatening a more vulnerable part of the Eldar force, unleashing a destructive fusillades from their hull-mounted shuriken weaponry once in range. When important support forces are secure, the riders can use their speed to burst past the enemy lines entirely, then turning to assault the vulnerable rear flank, zooming off to safety before retaliatory fire can reach them.
While heavier than a jetbike, the Vyper is still far swift enough to outmaneuver any of the lesser races' clumsy war machines. Originally designed by Saim-Hann artisans, the Vyper is a two person vehicle designed to grant much needed fire support to swift jetbike squadrons. While it does not boast exceptional armor, the Vyper carries weaponry comparable to a tank twice its size, and its speed protects it well enough from enemy fire. While one Eldar pilots the Vyper from an enclosed cockpit, a second crewman sits atop a rotating gun nest elevated behind the cockpit. There is a strong bond between Vyper crew members that allows for near perfect coordination between the two of them, and in fact it is most common that the two operators of a Vyper are blood relatives. Vyper squadrons drill endlessly so that they may act as one on the battlefield, instantly redeploying wherever they are needed. Vyper crews will seldom close with the enemy, being at the advantage at range, so the squad will work together to continually outmaneuver interceptors while finding new angles to attack their chosen prey from until it is completely destroyed.
Each Vyper has either twin shuriken catapults or a single shuriken cannon mounted on the front of the hull. The gunner's turret can carry either an Eldar missile launcher, a scatter laser, a starcannon, a shuriken cannon, or a bright lance.
The Wave Serpent is the Eldar version of a troop carrier. These sleek craft ferry the Guardians and Aspect Warriors safely to wherever they are needed on the battlefield. Like all Eldar vehicles, the Wave Serpent uses powerful anti-gravity engines that allow it to hover over the battlefield and move much more quickly than any comparable vehicle employed by the Eldar's enemies. A Wave Serpent has some forward mounted weapons allowing it to ward off threats to its charges, but the most important feature of the Wave Serpent is its Energy Field. Several projectors around the side vanes of the Serpent project a rippling bow wave of force which disrupts incoming enemy fire from the front and sides. This technological marvel along with exceptional speed and maneuverability makes the Wave Serpent the perfect vehicle to transport Eldar warriors safely to their destination.
The weapons carried by a Wave serpent are different depending upon the battle situation. They all come equipped with either twin forward mounted shuriken catapults or a single, more powerful forward mounted shuriken cannon. There is also an optional turret which can carry either twin shuriken cannons, twin scatter lasers, twin Eldar missile launchers, twin starcannons, or twin bright lances.
As elegant a work of art as the Falcon is, its silhouette is a terrifying sight to those who must face its wrath. The Falcon is the primary battle tank of Eldar forces, named for Faolchu, consort of the Great Hawk, who brought Vaul's mighty sword Anaris to Eldanesh during the War in Heaven so that he may take on Khaine, and it is this principle of deliverance that forms the basis of the Falcon's design. A small squad of Eldar Warriors can ride inside of the Falcon's passenger compartment, allowing the Falcon to act as a quick transport for slower warriors or a beleaguered squad on the front line. In addition to this supportive role, the Falcon carries a large assortment of vicious weapons and advanced targeting arrays allowing it to unleash devastating salvos of fire as it skirts across the battlefield. Like all other Eldar vehicles, Falcons utilize powerful anti-grav motors,granting it limited flight capabilities. In fact, many Falcon pilots practice in hunting their enemy hidden in low cloud banks, eventually diving steeply toward their target blazing fire from their weapons, ripping apart the surprised enemy.
Based on the Wave Serpent chassis, Falcons also carry an underslung forward mount with either twin shuriken catapults or a single shuriken cannon. The top mounted turret carries a pulse laser on one side, with a weapon mount on the other side capable of mounting a shuriken cannon, a scatter laser, an Eldar missile launcher, a starcannon, or a bright lance.
All Eldar constructs stand apart from those of the lesser races, graceful, elegant works of art against lumpen, ugly machines, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the Fire Prism. Carrying destructive power to rival any sluggish metal beast created by the clumsy hands of humans, the Fire Prism is still a lithe, sleek, swift dealer of death, capable of flying circles around enemy tanks with its anti-grav motors, unleashing devastating blasts of energy from its Prism Cannon on its confused target. This unusual armament utilizes a two stage firing process. A medium strength laser is unleashed into a grand crystal prism which can greatly amplify the power of the shot in the blink of an eye. After the beam is amplified, it can be released either as a focused javelin of energy, punching through any armour, or as a dispersed waved of energy capable of taking out a large group of infantry or other soft targets. Even with these unique features, the most unusual capability of the Prism Cannon is the highly advanced tracking system which allows one Fire Prism to channel the beam from its cannon into the prismatic lens of another Fire Prism, the tanks working together to form one all-powerful laser blast capable of obliterating any foe unfortunate enough to be in the lead tank's sights.
As with the other large Eldar vehicles, Fire Prisms carry either twin shuriken catapults or a single large shuriken cannon underneath its hull. The Prism Cannon requires an immense amount of power and space to function, so a Fire Prism does not possess any room for additional weapons or passengers.
The War Walkers are graceful, bipedal vehicles that serve as battlefield scouts for large Eldar forces, sacrificing armour in favour of powerful weapons and maneuverability. However, every single Eldar life is a precious treasure, so a War Walker pilot is not without protection, as his machine is equipped with several force fields that blur and distort its outline, allowing it at least the same safety as a fully enclosed vehicle. The arrival of many an Eldar force has been heralded by a ripple in the horizon, followed by a blistering firestorm efficiently eliminating those who observed the visual phenomenon.
As they are far lighter than most other war machines, War Walkers must use their ranged weapons to take out threats in order of priority. This is made easier with several advanced support systems, such as spirit stones containing fallen Eldar warriors which aid the pilot in weapons operations. When a War Walker enters battle, it is said that the pilot enters a meditative state, becoming one with his machine, making the War Walker stalk through the brush and cut down foes with its twin heavy weapons as if it were his own body. With an entire squadron of War Walkers working in unison, the sheer amount of firepower they carry can decimate an entire platoon of enemy troops in a single volley.
War Walkers each have two weapon mounts, one to each side of the pilot's seat. Either may mount a starcannon, an Eldar missile launcher, a scatter laser, a shuriken cannon, or a bright lance, depending on what foes the squad may come up against.
The Eldar are a dwindling species, and every single warrior is needed to defend them from the myriad threats they face in the galaxy. Not even in death may an Eldar warrior find respite from war. The spiritseers of the Eldar may call forth the souls of powerful warriors from their Craftworld's Infinity Circuit into a soulstone, which can in turn be placed into a wraith-construct, bringing life to its artificial form. While most Eldar are abhorred by the necromancy-like process, they all recognize the potency of the combination of such a fierce warrior spirit and an impervious shell.
The most common of these ghostly warriors is the Wraithguard, solid wraithbone constructs standing head and shoulders over the Warlocks that lead them into battle. Like other Eldar constructs, these machines are crafted with flowing organic shapes, carefully designed by masterful Eldar craftsmen. Despite being possessed of an Eldar soul, these stoic warriors function very differently from their living brethren. Gone is the vitality and alacrity of the graceful Eldar warrior, replaced with an inexorable purpose, gleaming behemoths striding forward with the inevitability of death, the eerie silence only broken by the sound of reality itself being torn apart by their wraithcannons.
The standard armament of a Wraithguard, a wraithcannon is far too heavy for a normal Eldar to carry. These exotic weapons take in the psychic energy of the Eldar spirit within the connected soulstone and focuses it upon a fixed position. This focused power actually opens up a rift between Warp space and the material universe for an instant, causing damage to closeby targets ranging from catastrophic trauma to full bodily displacement into the chaotic depths of the Warp. It is best not to dwell on the fate of such unfortunate individuals.
While Wraithguards are several heads taller than their living brethren, the graceful wraith-nobles known as Wraithlords easily dwarf their more numerous cousins. Statuesque in nature, these ancient constructs are precious artifacts to their Craftworlds and possessed of a supernatural toughness due to their wraithbone construction. Ritualistically summoned forth from the Infinity Circuit by powerful spiritseers, only a truly exceptional Eldar hero has enough spiritual power to bring life to the gigantic wraithbone shell of a Wraithlord.
Though they may be summoned to aid in the defense of their people, the souls of dead warriors are never fully as individual or alert as living warriors. Their consciousness exists simultaneously in the real world and the spiritual world of the Warp, experiencing reality as a dream where thoughts and feelings are as tangible as steel and stone. However, the powerful souls implanted into Wraithlords are sometimes summoned for a war council, as they can still communicate telepathically and invariably have millennia of experience.
While Wraithguards take on a generally standardized form, Wraithlords are often constructed to fit the combat style of the warrior soul at its core, with a large portion of the various forms pioneered by Craftworld Iyanden. As a Wraithlord, a hero who thrived in the swirl of melee combat will seek to rip apart its enemies with great energized fists or rend masses of enemies asunder with a great and terrible a Wraithblade, a weapon possessing a sentience unto itself allowing it to guide the wielder's blows. If in life the legendary warrior were more accustomed to lending ranged support to his brethren with his keen eyes, the Wraithlord's energy core will be rerouted to power a devastating array of heavy weapons. Whatever configuration these god machines may take on, the presence of a single Wraithlord can greatly sway the balance of power on the battlefield, the legends of the heroic soul within continuing to grow even in death.