Imperium of Man: Founders, Adeptus Astartes (Chapters, Characters, Primaris Marines), Astra Militarum, Adepta Sororitas, Inquisition, Mechanicus, Other factions
Forces of Chaos: Chaos Gods, Chaos Primarchs, Heretic Astartes
Xeno Races: Aeldari (Asuryani, Drukhari) | Necrons | Orks (Characters) | T'au Empire | Tyranids
The Aeldari, commonly known as the Eldar, are Warhammer 40,000's race of Space Elves, haughty and sophisticated aliens who were nevertheless laid low by their hubris and forced to cede control of the galaxy to lesser creatures.
Though superficially similar to humans, Aeldari have Pointed Ears, are lanky and long-limbed, and move with a speed and grace that others find unnerving. They are one of the oldest races in the galaxy, and their technology reflects this, as they have mastered anti-grav engines, devastating energy weapons, and even more wondrous technologies. Their race is inherently psychic, moreso than any other race in the setting. As a result, many Aeldari devices are based on psychotropic engineering, while their psykers are among the most potent beings in the galaxy. However, with this mental power comes a mind capable of far greater extremes, passions and obsessions than other species, and this is what doomed the Aeldari.
The history of the Aeldari is ancient, poorly understood, and didn't survive the downfall of their galactic empire. What little remains is passed down through oral tradition, allegory and song, mutating their history and making it more fanciful with each retelling. All the Aeldari know is that they were long, long ago created by an ancient race to combat the Necrons and their C'tan masters, but both their creators and their enemies fell, and they were left as the dominant force in the galaxy, before mankind had even mastered fire. Their civilization evolved to a nigh-utopian level, but with no real challenges facing them, they grew decadent, and began amusing themselves through increasingly extreme acts as they searched for new sensations to savor. Some far-sighted individuals warned of disaster, and many, disgusted by the depravities they had witnessed, fled for the hinterlands of their domain, but it was no use. The psychic energy produced from this millennia-long orgy of debauchery coalesced into a new Chaos God of Excess, Slaanesh, whose birth devoured the souls of much of their race, killed most of their pantheon, and left the Eye of Terror as a permanent blight upon the galaxy. In the blink of an eye their empire was completely gutted, and the Aeldari found themselves on the brink of extinction, struggling to survive at any cost.
The Age of Technology saw humans spread across the galaxy in the Aeldari's shadow, but near its end the number of human psykers began to rapidly expand. Their inherent instability combined with the psychic feedback in the Warp from the savage hedonism of late Aeldari society, creating vast storms that made the Warp impossible for humans to traverse, contributing greatly to the Age of Technology's collapse into the Age of Strife which almost wiped out humanity. Ironically, Slaanesh's birth expended a titanic amount of energy in the Warp, calming it enough for human psykers to begin to navigate it again, paving the way for the Emperor's Great Crusade and the rise of the Imperium as the Aeldari became a fragment of their former power. In the current setting, humanity's relationship with the Aeldari could generously be called tumultuous. Neither side likes or trusts the other, and much blood has been spilt between, but temporary alliances can and do happen as circumstances arise, as many of the other factions threaten both species equally and the Aeldari's enigmatic scheming does allow for trading with and fighting alongside the upstart mon-keigh when it's needed. The rise of the Ynnari has thrown a new monkey wrench into this equation, as their emissary Yvraine was a key player in the resurrection of Roboute Guilliman.
In the tabletop game, while the various Aeldari factions play in very different ways, they are all fast and hard-hitting but are also relatively fragile with weak armor, and playing them well requires more finesse and strategy than more straightforward factions like the Space Marines or Necrons.
More about these enigmatic aliens can be found in Path of the Eldar books.
- Abnormal Ammo: The technological level of the Aeldari means that even their basic weaponry can fire unusual ammunition such as hundreds of mono-molecular psycho-plastic shuriken or shards of glass impregnated with virulent and painful toxins. Their more specialist weaponry takes this even further with strands of monofilament wire, all-consuming spheres of Warp energy or hyperdermic needles containing a bacteria that makes those struck explode.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: As usual for the setting, Eldar swords are described as having monomolecular edges and "micro-crystalline blades."
- The Aesthetics of Technology: Every aspect of Eldar technology is built around flowing curves and, for the Craftworld Eldar and Harlequins, an almost organic appearance. Dark Eldar technology is similar but much more focused on blades, hooks, and other more cruel touches. Compare, for instance, the sleek, curved profiles of the Falcon grav-tank and the various Wraith golems to the lumbering, smoke-belching tanks and mecha of the humans. Craftworld Eldar and Harlequin vehicles look more like armed speedboats and jetskis than conventional war machines, while Dark Eldar skimmers resemble flying, sharp-edged sailing skiffs.
- Slaanesh, who the Aeldari refer to as She Who Thirsts, developed quite a taste for Eldar souls during the Fall and seeks to feast on the survivors.
- The Eldar were created by the Old Ones as tools against the Necrons, and in the modern setting they see the Necrons as horrifying abominations by the nature of their very existence, fighting them with the same fervor as they fight Chaos.
- Balkanize Me: The Eldar once ruled over the vast majority of the galaxy. Then their empire fell when the Eye of Terror swallowed their homeworlds and the birth-scream of Slaneesh killed most of their race, except for those safe in the Webway or far enough from the homeworlds to avoid the psychic backlash. The major Eldar settlements in the Webway eventually fused into the Dark City of Comorragh. The Eldar who crewed the Empire's massive, self-sustaining and semi-nomadic trading ships still drift along the cosmos in their mutually independent Craftworlds. Still others, such as the Harlequin cultists of Cegorach, the Exodite colonists on the edge of the galaxy, and the roving Corsairs, survived by either method and formed their own independent factions. Each group underwent a fair degree of cultural evolution, and now they bear little similarity to each other or the old Eldar Empire.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Before the Fall, some of the Eldar actively sought to create a new deity of pleasure. They got Slaanesh.
- Berserk Button: Alien invaders despoiling maiden worlds can drive the Aeldari into a murderous rage as such worlds represent the possible rebirth of their lost empire. When using the Maiden World Theatre of War rulesnote , the Unspoiled Paradise rule has a chance to increase an Aeldari characters Strength and Attack characteristics if an Aeldari Vehicle or Building unit explodes as they unleash their fury.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Though outwardly resembling lithe humans with Pointed Ears, Aeldari have several unusual physical qualities:
- Eldar skulls have an unusual structure. Their teeth are outgrowths of the jawbone. The texture and formation of their bones suggests it is a form of solidified organic resin that allows a compromise of flexibility and durability, while being much lighter than human bones.
- Muscle tissue is extremely dense and structured with spiralic fibres, like a coiled spring. This suggests enormous tolerance for high-speed movement, and physical strength far in excess of what their small frames would suggest.
- They have no body fat or other analogue. When cut or wounded, their blood forms small crystalline structures instead of scabbing like human blood does.
- Their inner organs are almost identical to a human's, but possess an unnatural "tidiness". There is a bony plate that rests under the abdominal muscles and acts like a secondary ribcage.
- The brain has multiple lobes and unknown ganglia. Cerebral matter is extremely dense, though it resembles human brain tissue. Eldar seem to possess an extraordinary degree of control over their neural systems and bodily functions, such as being able to consciously shut down nerve signals from damaged parts of the body and forcing a wound to close to prevent bleeding out. Given further time and psychic manipulation, they are able to access a limited Healing Factor and can even regrow lost limbs, in the same manner some lizards can regrow their tails.
- Eldar DNA has a quintuple-helix structure and twenty chemical bases. For comparison, a human's DNA is two-structure with four chemical bases.
- Cassandra Truth:
- A large portion of Eldar society ignored their seers' warnings that their decadence would destroy their civilization, and paid for it horribly.
- Because of its inherent xenophobia and the Eldar's well-deserved reputation for being manipulative and opportunistic, the Imperium more often than not ignores or outright rejects any kind of prophecy or advice the Eldar give. This has, on many occasions, burned the Imperium badly.
- Casual Interstellar Travel: Thanks to the Webway, an interdimensional Portal Network located between the Warp and realspace, the Eldar avoid the problems associated with Warp travel. This is not to say that the Webway is without its own perils, as sections of it have fallen into disrepair, while the Dark Eldar have built a horrifying civilization within its darkest passages.
- Chaotic Neutral: The in-universe Imperial perception of the Eldar as a whole. It doesn't help that humans have problems telling Eldar corsairs and Dark Eldar pirates apart, but even those who can keep the factions straight note how Eldar of the same Craftworld will aid them in one battle, then go back to killing them in another. The best you can say about the Eldar is that they consistently act in their self-interest.Commander Abriel Hume: Trust not in their appearance, for the Eldar are as utterly alien to good, honest men as the vile Tyranids and savage Orks. They are capricious and fickle, attacking without cause or warning. There is no understanding them for there is nothing to understand — they are a random force in the universe.
- Combat Aestheticist: The Eldar as a whole boast that other species "know the science of war, but not the art." The Dark Eldar take this further and try to make spectacular, hilarious or daring kills to win kudos.
- Combat Pragmatist: Although it is unquestionable that the skill of Eldar warriors, the sophistication of their technology, and the might of their psykers are all second-to-none, they lack the robust physiology of the Orks, the overwhelming numbers of the Tyranids, and the raw firepower of the Imperium, hence they cannot hope to beat them in straight slug-fests over open ground. The ideal engagement for the Eldar is an attack undertaken completely by surprise, with a great degree of air support and psyker involvement, directed at the enemy's flank or a weak point in their defenses. The Eldar warhost crushes their confused and intimidated opponents with overwhelming speed, firepower and ferocity, and then withdraws before the enemy force can consolidate or be reinforced, hopefully with very few to no casualties. Their reliance on guerrilla and asymmetric warfare earns them a reputation among the other races as cowardly and weak, but the Eldar laugh at these naive notions.
- Confusion Fu: An Eldar warhost's actions may seem baffling to outside observers, who lack the Eldar's psychic foresight and knowledge that these seemingly random or contradictory actions are furthering a single purpose.
- Crippling Overspecialization: This is a species-wide problem for the Aeldari — due to the immense psychic-power that the Old Ones gave them, they need to devote much more effort than humans do in order to control their emotions and instincts, which often leads them to focus single-mindedly on one task for a duration of time. While this does make them extremely good at whatever they are focused on, it not only leaves them wanting in other fields, but it also gives them extreme tunnel-vision: Asuryani Exarchs, for example, only think in terms of fighting and conflict, while Farseers only focus their thoughts on what could be, at the expense of what is. The Drukhari ZigZag this, and can either be seen as the result of the Aeldari losing said control, or alternatively maintaining that control, but diverting it toward gaining pleasure.
- Death of a Thousand Cuts: The basic principle behind Aeldari shuriken weapons is to shred their opponent with a storm of molecule-thin projectiles. In-game, this is normally simplified so that a burst of multiple projectiles is represented by a single ranged that hits with the equivalent power of a single explosive round fired from an Astartes' bolter, with the shuriken catapult model typically capable of firing multiple attacks each turn.
- Defector from Decadence: The surviving Eldar are all over the map on this one. The Craftworld Eldar and Exodites rejected their ancestors' decadence for the discipline of The Path or a simpler existence on a Maiden World, respectively. The Dark Eldar avert this by willingly continuing the lifestyle that led to the Fall, only modified enough to save their own souls. Corsairs walk a line between these extremes, tending to live lavish and hedonistic lives while not going to the extent of the Dark Eldar.
- Divided We Fall: While this varies depending on the edition, the fact that each of their sub-factions is split into self-governing groups with radically different cultures, and in many cases isolationist tendencies, the Aeldari have very little tying them together beyond a desire to survive. Due to this separation, conflict between the sub-factions, particularly the Drukhari, is not uncommon and the actions on one group can often cause fatal consequences for others, such as when the Drukhari raids on T'au Septs resulted in an Exodite colony being attacked.
- Do Not Go Gentle: Even though they are a Dying Race, the Aeldari have never stopped fighting to postpone their end. All of the Aeldari's sub-cultures are willing to use almost any means to preserve the existence of their race, whether it means manipulating lesser races, dabbling in Necromancy, mobilising their entire civilian population for war or indulging in the most debase acts and sciences to prolong their lives.
- Dodge the Bullet: Aeldari process information with dazzling speed and have reaction times many times faster than those of lesser races, allowing them to dodge enemy fire and close combat attacks. The 8th Edition of the game represents this by giving all the Aeldari sub-factions access to the 'Lightning-Fast Reactions' Stratagem that reduces the enemy's chance of hitting Aeldari infantry and flying units.
- Dungeon Punk: The Eldar have sometimes been described as a Post Cyber Punk-styled take on Dungeon Punk. For an outsider their technology is inherently magical (and contains very little metal) and is highly linked to their Psychic Powers. At the same time they are in a heavily cynical setting and always on the verge of destruction but can prevail due to their technology and magic, and they are majorly racist and supremacist.
- Dying Race: The whole Eldar race must die so their saviour god can be born but Slaanesh devours Eldar souls so they choose to live as long as possible even if it means the threat of near extinction.
- Easy Road to Hell: Simply being born is enough to doom the Eldar to Slaanesh. They define themselves by how they try to avoid this fate.
- Eldritch Location: The Eldar homeworlds still exist within the Eye of Terror, but have been transformed into terrifying Crone Worlds inhabited by all manner of daemonic monstrosities. Still, many ancient artifacts remain on them (including spirit stones), so Eldar make occasional raids to recover such treasures. Many who survive such expeditions seek the solace of the infinity circuit soon afterward.
- Fantastic Racism: The Eldar were masters of the galaxy for a long time, and despite the Fall and the resulting destruction of their empire and sundering of their people, that legacy has left them with a substantial species-wide superiority complex. They generally see all other sapient species as, at best, tools to be used and discarded should the need arise (and ignored otherwise), or at worst, a blight to be eradicated. Even the Eldar racial term for humans, "mon-keigh," means "those who are to be exterminated." The 6th and 7th edition rules reflected this in the Allies matrix by having the Craftworld Eldar, Harlequins, and Dark Eldarnote considered "Battle Brothers", while any other potential allies among the lesser races were "Allies of Convenience" at best. All that said, the Craftworld and Exodite Eldar are probably the friendliest major faction to other species besides the T'au (trading with all types of aliens, helping humanity more often than they hurt it, and generally leaving non Ork/Tyranid/Necron aliens alone unless they trespass on Maiden Worlds) which says more about the other races than anything else (contrast the Imperium).
- Fragile Speedster: The Eldar, regardless of faction, are known for being extremely fast and agile fighters and having vehicles that can practically dance around those of other factions. However, this comes at a price, as neither wraithbone nor the Dark Eldar equivalent are nearly as durable as the armor used by some other factions. In-game, Eldar have several movement-enhancing rules, such as Fleetnote and Battle Focusnote ; their tanks are all fast skimmersnote ; and their jetbikes can move much further than those of other factions. However, the typical Eldar armor save is 5+, which is very weak in comparison to, say, the Space Marines (typically 3+ or 2+/5++ for Terminators), and their vehicles' Toughness is generally fairly low as well. Dark Eldar vehicles are even weaker as many of them are Open-Topped, making them easier to destroy.
- Glass Cannon: Along with their increased mobility, the Eldar have frighteningly powerful weapons which have a number of devastating effects, depending on the faction and weapon in question, but this is countered by their aforementioned weak armor and fragile vehicles. In-game, the Dark Eldar are considered one of the hardest armies to play well because, while they can cause a lot of damage very quickly, even a fair round of shooting from the opponent can take big chunks out of your forces.
- Gone Horribly Right: Before the Fall, some Eldar were consciously trying to create a new deity, believing that they would be rewarded with pleasure beyond mortal comprehension. Unfortunately they got Slaanesh, who "rewarded" them by devouring their souls.
- Götterdämmerung: Not only have the Eldar lost most of their deities, they also have their own version of Ragnarok, the Rhana Dandra, which will result in the destruction of both the remaining Eldar and Chaos, as well as the material universe and the Immaterium alike.
- Harmony Versus Discipline: The Dark Eldar and the Craftworld Eldar practice each in the extreme.
- Hidden Elf Village: Eldar settlements in general, and particularly the Exodite worlds, tend to be quite insular and xenophobic (at least towards non-Eldar). An extreme example is Craftworld Dorhai, which considers itself home to the only untainted Eldar in the galaxy and refuses to deal with any others.
- Higher-Tech Species: The Eldar have been a starfaring civilization far longer than any other currently active race except the Necrons and their technology reflects that. For the Craftworld Eldar and Harlequins, it's based on a fusion of psychic powers and conventional mechanics. Dark Eldar technology is almost purely mechanical due to their lack of psychic influence but is still just as advanced as their uncorrupted kin.
- Holographic Disguise: A variant. Rather than relying on fallible energy fields, many Eldar units, particularly among the Craftworld Eldar or Harlequins, use "holo-fields" to scatter and displace their image, making it near-impossible for the enemy to land a solid hit on them.
- Human Outside, Alien Inside: The Eldar might look a lot like humans, but are definitely different internally. A dissection in Xenology reveals that the Eldar have little to no body fat, "teeth" that are outgrowths of their jawbones, ribs in the shape of fused "wings," durable yet flexible bones in general, intermeshed elastic muscles built for speed and movement, a secondary "ribcage" of bony plates beneath their abdominal muscles, and a brain with multiple lobes. Also, the Magos Biologis speculates that their Pointy Ears are an erogenous zone. Of course like most in-universe works, Xenology may have had inaccuracies due to some slight problems on the author's part.
- Humans Through Alien Eyes: At best, the Aeldari see humans as barbaric upstarts who are repeating the same mistakes that led to the Fall, feeding the Chaos Gods through constant war and death. At worst, humans are little better than vermin infesting the Eldar's birthright (a position taken by those with more extremely anti-human sentiments), or livestock (the general view the Dark Eldar take).
- Lightning Bruiser: The Eldar don't build slow vehicles. Their super-heavy grav-tanks are just as fast as their flying transports, and their Titans move with startling agility and speed. The Revenant even has jump-jets that allow it to leap and bound across the battlefield.
- Living Ship: Eldar vessels, including the massive Craftworlds, are borderline Organic Technology due to their wraithbone bases. Other vessels are Ghost Ships with no living crew, but are piloted by the spirits of the dead.
- Mage Species: This is certainly how the Imperium refers to them, since every Eldar is born with psychic potential. Unlike the often-unstable human psykers, the Eldar unlock their powers gradually, and build up control and strength in a variety of disciplines, be they artist, healer, wright, or seer. The Dark Eldar subvert this, however, as their psychic potential has atrophied due to a culture that places more emphasis on physical prowess, and because the use of these abilities can attract Slaanesh's attention.
- Most Eldar technology is based on an interaction of Psychic Powers with more conventional elements. Virtually all of their technology uses a psychic interface, and some are directly animated by the souls of the dead.
- The infinity circuit that runs through each craftworld is, in addition to a repository for the souls of the dead, a giant database that the living can psychically interface with to ask questions to seek the wisdom of the departed, or send messages to others across the Craftworld, almost like a computer network.
- Wraithbone, which comprises the majority of Eldar technology, is described to be solidified psychic energy. It can apparently carry a current, morph to any shape, and heal if necessary, making it literally Magic-tech.
- Meaningful Name:
- The original name for the Aeldari, "Eldar", was J. R. R. Tolkien's word for elves and translates to "star-people". In addition to this, the name also sounds like "elder," a fitting name for an ancient race.
- Isha, goddess of life, health, growth and fertility, who whispers the cures to the diseases that Nurgle tests on her, shares a name with the Japanese word for "doctor" or "physician".
- Mildly Military: None of the various Eldar faction's combat forces have anything like the military discipline and structure of other races, but for the Eldar's part they do not seem to need them. Most reject things like ranks and other accouterments as unnecessary artificial restrictions, only needed by those who lack the talent to discipline and organize themselves. They tend to coalesce around objectives and mutually understood plans, often understood via Psychic Link or other means of all hewing to the same strategy. However, this does not mean that rookie Rangers and Aspect Warriors won't listen to an Autarch or an Exarch when direct orders start getting thrown around in part of an agreed-upon military campaign.
- Mirroring Factions: While they would greatly take offense to such a claim, the Eldar are very similar to the Imperium of Man: both are struggling against Chaos and a hostile galaxy, and both consider species outside their own to either be pests or things that need to die.
- Moral Myopia: When the Eldar are faced with a choice between safeguarding their own kin and the welfare of another species, and farsight doesn't say otherwise, they will pick their own kind every time. It's perfectly understandable given their Dying Race status... it's just not much fun when you're the one getting screwed in their stead, especially after the Eldar have decided that a few thousand of their lives are worth several million of yours.
- Muscles Are Meaningless: Eldar look physically frail compared to humans, but are just as strong thanks to their extremely efficient muscles.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: The Eldar language is extremely complex by most standards, where a given word can have multiple literal and metaphorical meanings depending on its placement in relationship with other words and the body language of the person saying it. Add to that the language uses metaphor extremely frequently to communicate complex ideas based on prior cultural understanding and full fluency becomes almost impossible for outsiders to achieve. Typically the best they can hope for is an extremely clipped and clumsy version of some common phrases and concepts.
- Negative Space Wedgie: The ancient Eldar are directly responsible for creating the Eye of Terror through the birth of Slaanesh, and the remaining Eldar see both it and the resulting Chaotic corruption it has helped facilitate as a mark of immense shame.
- Not Worth Killing: Played With with the Imperium's policy towards the Eldar as a whole since a war of extermination isn't too petty to take on, but not worth the potential cost. While several Craftworlds were destroyed during the Great Crusade, and as recently as 852 M41 the Space Marines of the Invaders chapter were able to besiege and destroy Craftworld Idharae, other attempts to wipe out the Eldar have not gone well. One resulted in the loss of an entire sector fleet, and a reprisal from Alaitoc reduced the Invaders to three fleet-based companies. The Imperium therefore finds occasional clashes with the Eldar preferable to the losses they would sustain in a proper genocidal campaign against them. As far as many of the higher-ups in the Imperium are concerned, the Eldar are a spent force, and they don't need to expend precious men and material to hasten the Eldar's extinction when it can be better spent on things like Ork invasions and Chaos uprisings. Whether they are right or not is questionable.
- Pet the Dog: The Eldar have been known to pull the odd Heroic Sacrifice to save humans from various threats, but these more often than not are deliberate attempts to garner sympathy for a larger purpose. On the other hand, for all their arrogance the Eldar display some respect for the T'au, and after-action reports in Dawn of War mention prisoner exchanges for both sides.
- Eldrad Ulthran: I have followed the myriad potential futures of the Tau with great interest. Though barely even striplings compared to us, I feel a strange protectiveness towards them. In time I believe they will exceed even our greatest feats and master the darkness within their souls.
- Power Crystal: Psychic Power-enhancing technology in this setting often incorporates some kind of "mineral resonance". As the Eldar are masters of such "techno-witchery", crystals or polished stones are a recurring element among them. Either objects made of such crystals are used on their own, or crystals are incorporated into other pieces of their technology. The waystone every Craftworld and Exodite Eldar wears on their person is a common example.
- Psychic Link: Due to the highly psychic nature of the Aeldari, even the most psychically unskilled individual is able to at least receive and comprehend short telepathic messages. Many Aeldari military forces use this ability for short ranged communication during battle as it is often more secure than technological communication devices.
- Razor Floss: Monofilament, molecularly thin polymer strands that cut flesh with ridiculous ease and can be effective against even Space Marine armor. Craftworld Eldar have multiple monofilament weapons, such as Warp Spiders' Deathspinners which fire coiled wads as a short-ranged way to puree unarmored enemy troops, while Shadow Weaver artillery platforms and Night Spinner grav-tanks fire clouds of the stuff up to drift down on the enemy. The Harlequins use the Harlequin's Kiss as a close-combat application, while the Dark Eldar have the Shredder, which fires barbed monofilament to entangle and slice.
- Really 700 Years Old: Eldar typically show signs of real aging when they're around a millennium old.
- The Remnant:
- The militaristic Craftworld Biel-Tan continue to try to reconquer the galaxy.
- The Dark Eldar style themselves as the successor of the original Eldar empire.
- Resurrective Immortality: Originally the Aeldari would reincarnate with their memories intact whenever they died. Even when Khorne, Tzeentch and Nurgle were active, they came back to life whenever they died, so death had little consequence for them. This ended with the birth of Slaanesh who harbours an insatiable hunger for Aeldari souls and will devour any not safeguarded in some way.
- The Right of a Superior Species:
- The Eldar are ancient, wise, and most importantly, dying out. Humans are young, idiotic, and there's plenty of them. Therefore, the Eldar see absolutely nothing wrong with using humans as meat-shields, and will betray millions of their human "comrades" the moment it becomes advantageous to do so without a second thought.
- The Dark Eldar take this to even greater — and more horrifying — extremes:Gideon: The torture, the terror, the raiding, the killing, maiming, stealing. Everything. Why?
Asdrubael Vect: Why should I not? You are of no consequence. If you had not been captured by my servants and did not fall foul of some illness or mishap, you would still die within another twenty of your planet's short years. Why should I not use such a pointless creature for my amusement and sustenance? You are prey-species. Nothing more.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Zig Zagged over the years. Being Space Elves, most interpretations have the only thing physically separating them from tall, thin, angular humans is pointy ears. Some depictions have them being similar to humans, but more transparently alien.
- Sapient Ship: An Eldar vessel's spirit stones tend to give the ship its own personality.
- Self-Inflicted Hell: The Aeldari have no pleasant afterlife waiting for them; having created Slaanesh, their souls are destined to be devoured by the insatiable god. One of the main things that separates and defines each of the surviving factions is how they avoid this fate.
- Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Compare the outfits of the Craftworld and other Eldar to those of the Dark Eldar, and you will see quite the difference. The outfits of the other Eldar, while tight-fitting, tend to be relatively modest, and Farseers often wear elaborate robes over their clothes and armor. In sharp contrast, the Dark Eldar, particularly their Wych-cults, prefer to show off their bodies, as it's a mark of renown and prowess to be able to survive lethal battles while wearing minimal armor/clothing.
- Shiny-Looking Spaceships: Due to wraithbone's self-healing properties, materials made from it will almost never show long-term wear and tear, and thus the ships of the Craftworlds look relatively pristine even after millennia of use.
- Solar Sail: Eldar vessels use these for sub-light travel. This makes them tricky to play in Battlefleet Gothic, as you have to keep track of which table edge the sun is shining from, and Eldar ships move at different speeds depending on their angle to it.
- Space Elves: The Eldar race as a whole, but in different directions:
- Craftworld Eldar are types I and II combined.
- Dark Eldar are a particularly nasty blend of types I and III.
- Exodites are type I.
- Averted with the Corsairs; they're just Space Pirates that happen to be elves.
- Space Pirates: Even Craftworld Eldar are known to turn to piracy, and many of their outcasts form mighty Corsair fleets. The Dark Eldar are basically this on a racial scale, and some of their skimmer transports even have gangplanks for boarding actions.
- Spock Speak: Eldar who speak Gothic do so in a very elevated, careful register; their own language is often translated the same way. This leads to a Funny Moment in Path of the Warrior when a Striking Scorpion makes a masturbation joke without breaking this tone.
- The Stoic: Pretty much all Eldar are this, although Not So Stoic comes into play quite frequently.
- Straw Hypocrite: The Eldar will never skip a chance to point out how violent, irrational, foolish and decadent humans are. Says the race who Squicked a Chaos God into existence, not to mention the existence of their monstrous Commorite brethren.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Not the "modern" Aeldari but the Aeldari before the Fall.
- In one book detailing an expedition to a Crone World, the characters come across a publicly accessible terminal that could grant "wishes" and alter reality with no limitation on the number or scope of the wish. Unfortunately the terminal was corrupted by Chaos into a Jackass Genie and the characters opted to just destroy it.
- During the Horus Heresy, John Grammaticus was gifted an Aeldari artefact by the Cabal that allowed him to "cut" spacetime and materialise near the ruins of Ababa Hive on Terra, crossing the length of the galaxy almost instantly.
- It is often mentioned that the Aeldari could move and quench suns at the height of their power and majesty.
- The Phoenix Lords books introduce jewellery that can project personal shields around the wearer. In their heyday, the Aeldari used these to surf solar flares. Somebody wearing one of these could take a direct hit from the Nova Cannon on a Dominator-class cruiser and emerge completely unharmed.
- Superior Species: Eldar possess the usual racial advantages of stock fantasy elves. Their eyesight and reflexes are excellent to the point where humans look like they're moving in slow-motion by comparison, they're super-intelligent (in theory, less so in practice), they live for at least a thousand years and have many means to extend their lives to well beyond, and they're psychic.
- Technopath: Due to most Eldar technology being constructed out of psychically-sensitive materials such as wraithbone. Bonesingers are an even stronger version, since they bring wraithbone into being and shape it with song to grow and heal wraithbone technology.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Eldar-Imperial team-ups are more likely to be this than anything due to the factions' mutual dislike.
- Terraform: The ancient Eldar mastered the art of subtle terraforming. Using farsight, they could figure out what minor elements to introduce to a world that would eventually lead to that world growing into a lush habitable planet with few dangers. This naturalistic terraforming takes millennia, but the Eldar were patient. However, since the Fall, the Eldar have not had the numbers to settle these so-called "Maiden" worlds, or even necessarily police them. As a result, many of those now-habitable worlds were settled by other species ignorant of their origins. The Eldar consider this no less than theft and invasion, and this is the most frequent source of conflict between the Craftworlds and the Imperium.
- Time Abyss:
- Eldar tend to live at least a thousand years, though their lifespan generally correlates with psychic potential and training.
- Between the arts of the Haemonculi and their vampiric lifestyles the Dark Eldar are functionally immortal, though this is also their curse, as their souls may decay from sheer age.
- Trapped in Villainy: The Eldar do enough messed up stuff to qualify as villains, if to a lesser extent than other factions. The thing is, they don't have a choice, because the fate they will suffer after they die is just too terrible to risk.
- Twin Telepathy: Though quite rare, Eldar twins share such a bond that they can sense each other's location, mood, even thoughts, and if one dies the other often fades away as well.
- Uncanny Valley: Deliberately invoked in earlier editions. They looked like humans at a glance, but their gaunt features, lithe frames, pale skin, and unnatural grace made them very creepy looking. This approach is mostly gone in later editions, in favour of making them an Inhumanly Beautiful Race.
- Vestigial Empire: The undisputed masters of the galaxy for fifteen thousand years, now reduced to a handful of nomadic survivors.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
- The inverted case. Interestingly, various sources show that some Eldar do consider this question, but in almost all cases pragmatism wins out and when faced with the choice of saving one of their own or a number of humans, they'll pick their own kind every time.
- Although the Eldar hate the Orks, one philosopher, Uthan the Perverse, spoke very highly of them.The Orks are the pinnacle of creation. For them, the great struggle is won. They have evolved a society which knows no stress or angst. Who are we to judge them? We Eldar who have failed, or the Humans, on the road to ruin in their turn? And why? Because we sought answers to questions that an Ork wouldn't even bother to ask! We see a culture that is strong and despise it as crude.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?:
- One of the big reason why Exarchs are particularly feared by other Eldar is that, unlike many others who become trapped in their path, Exarchs are not allowed to join the infinity circuit upon their death, lest their Blood Lust taint it. Instead, each Exarch will have their soul stored in their armor, and that soul will join with whomever takes up the armor next after their physical body dies, reincarnating in a cycle of violence until the end of time, in a bloody existence consisting of nothing but waging war and training for more war. The only way any Exarch can escape this fate and find some measure of rest is if they are ritualistically sacrificed as The Young King to awaken the Avatar of Khaine.
- The Eldar in general do very much want to live for as long as possible, or more accurately avoid the afterlife, because they know Slaanesh is waiting for them on the other side.
- Wild Card: The Eldar have no allegiance besides themselves, they hold no planets, and they only meddle in the affairs of other races for their own long term agendas. Hence, from a narrative perspective, they are a handy tool for maintaining the status quo. Case in point from Dawn of War: if the Eldar win Dark Crusade, they not only eliminate all the other factions but their interests in the planet as well, leaving the planet a lawless, independent backwater. Considering that every other faction use it as a staging point for further campaigns/crusades/expansions/WAAAGHs if they are successful in claiming it, it's probably a smart decision.
- Xeno Nucleic Acid: Eldar have triple-helix DNA, and their method of reproducing involves the males repeatedly adding their genetic material.
Mythology is highly important to the Aeldari, tying strongly to their culture and language, and their deities had a presence in the warp. With the events of the Fall and the birth of Slaanesh, the majority of the Aeldari pantheon were destroyed by the new Chaos God. With the persistent rumours about those gods who survived the birth of She Who Thirsts and the rise of Ynnead, the god of the dead who was not a part of the old mythology, an increasing number of Aeldari are coming to believe that their pantheon can be reborn before the Rhana Dandra, the final battle against Chaos.
The Phoenix King Asuryan was the leader of the Aeldari Pantheon and the oldest of all the gods. Brother of the War God Kaela Mensha Khaine and consort of the goddess Gea, he was known as the Father of the Aeldari and the ultimate ancestor of all living things. In the Aeldari myth cycles, Asuryan was responsible for creating the barrier between the realm of the gods and the mortal universe as well as delivering Isha and Kurnous into the clutches of Khaine for their continued contact with the Aeldari. Like most of the other Aeldari deities, he was consumed by Slaanesh during the Fall.
- Body Motifs
- One Craftworld adopted the evil eye of Asuryan because he can kill with one Death Glare.
- Asurmen, Phoenix Lord of the Dire Avengers, is called The Hand of Asuryan.
- Divine Intervention: Asuryan was very helpful to the Eldar.
- God Is Flawed: Asuryan admitted having Khaine punish Isha and her husband Kurnous for continuing to communicate with the Eldar was a mistake.
- Top God: He was the leader of the Eldar pantheon.
The Laughing God Cegorach is the Trickster God of the Aldari and the only deity to survive the Fall relatively unscathed, having fled into the protection of the Webway while She Who Thirsts battled Khaine. The patron of the Harlequins, Cegorach is also known as the Great Harlequin and has led his people in a ten thousand year dance to oppose Slaanesh.
- The Chessmaster: The Laughing God is one of the best ones in the setting, using the Harlequins as agents to disrupt the forces of Chaos and protect the Aeldari. In particular, he arranged for the resurrection of Roboute Guilliman and the rise of the Ynnari through indirect means (by guiding Cawl to the Armor of Fate and ensuring he and the Ynnari escaped Cadia), and then helped Guilliman reach Terra and survive his battle with Magnus.
- Cryptic Background Reference: Many of the actions, pranks and jokes (such as the "Wedding of Screams") perpetrated by the Laughing God in Aeldari mythology haven't been fully detailed and are known only by their names in the background material and the battle tactics of his Harlequin followers.
- Great Big Library of Everything: He created the Black Library of Chaos, which takes the shape of a shadowy Craftworld within the Webway, guarded by the Harlequins and serving as a repository for the Eldar race's accumulated knowledge of Chaos and its workings, including works acquired after the Fall, such as Magnus the Red's Book of Magnus.
- King Incognito: Many of his followers believe that Cegorach travels the Webway disguised as a regular Harlequin player to personally fight against the forces of She Who Thirsts.
- Physical God: Cegorach is said to disguise himself as a Harlequin from time to time.
- Rebel Leader: Cegorach and his Harlequins harass and hamper Chaos when and where they can.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: During the Fall of the Eldar, when a newborn Slaanesh was busy eating the Eldar pantheon, Cegorach escaped into the Webway.
- Trickster God: The Laughing God has a strong predilection for achieving his goals by tricking his enemies into doing his job for him. For instance, it once tricked the Outsider, a C'Tan, into eating its fellows. In one stroke this killed off numerous C'Tan and drove the Outsider itself quite insane.
Isha is the mother goddess of the Aeldari and is associated with healing, fertility and the harvest. Isha was one of the most compassionate of the Aeldari Pantheon and it was her wish to protect her mortal children that caused Asuryan to separate the mortal realm from that of the gods. One of the three deities to survive the Fall, Isha was captured by Nurgle and is imprisoned within the Plague God's mansion.
- Body Motifs: Craftworld Ulthwe uses Isha's weeping eye as its symbol.
- Chekhov's Gun: Isha's spirit stones made from her tears so she can communicate with the Eldar (after Asuryan separated the heavenly and mortal realms to sate his brother Khaine's anger) would help the Eldar avoid having their souls claimed by Slaanesh.
- Damsel in Distress: Isha was "rescued" by Nurgle from Slaanesh, and now resides in a cage in the Chaos God's pestilential garden, serving as a guinea pig for Nurgle's plagues.
- Healer God: She's a goddess of healing and rejuvenation. After her capture by Nurgle, she continues to help her children by sending them cures for Nurgle's diseases in their dreams whenever the Plague Father is distracted.
- The Hecate Sisters: The Mother to Lileaths Maiden and Morai-Hegs Crone. All Aeldari are the children of Isha and she cares deeply for them above all others, teaching and guiding them secretly even when forbidden to do so by Asuryan.
- "Just So" Story: Isha's captivity by Nurgle explains why diseases have remedies.
Kaela Mensha Khaine
The bloody-handed god of war and murder, Khaine was once second only to his brother Asuryan in power and importance. It was Khaine who murdered the Aeldari hero Eldanesh and who defeated the Ctan Aza'gorod the Nightbringer during the War in Heaven. When Slaanesh consumed the majority of the Aeldari pantheon during the Fall, Khaine fought valiantly against She Who Thirsts but was ultimately defeated and cast into the mortal universe where his shattered essence became the Avatars that sit at the centre of each Craftworld.
- Body Motifs: "Kaela Mensha" means "Bloody-Handed", as he was cursed to drip blood eternally from his left hand for his murder of Eldanesh, something that carries over to his Avatars.
- Destroyer Deity: The Eldar worship Khaine as a God of War and Destruction, as Khaine is responsible for slaying the single greatest hero the Eldar had and was responsible for torturing another of their gods. In the present, he is revered as their god of war and ruin by the Aspect Warriors, Eldar warriors who have lost control of their hunger for war. He also crosses over with Physical God by having broken into countless millions of pieces, which can only be activated by a sacrifice, to become a fragment of his utter potential as a force of complete fiery decimation.
- Great Offscreen War: Khaine sparked the War In Heaven to stop Lileath's prophecy of his demise because of the Eldar.
- Human Sacrifice: How the Dark Eldar worship Khaine. Craftworld Eldar only prescribe this when they sacrifice an Exarch to awake an Avatar.
- Jerkass Gods: Khaine is the most violent and aggressive of the Eldar Gods. There's a reason he's the God of War and Murder. Most notably, he murdered Eldanesh, the greatest hero of the Eldar, just to cause more strife.
- My Blood Runs Hot: Fire is Khaine's blood. Same goes for his Avatars.
- Name of Cain: The word Khaine signifies the essence of murder.
- Physical God: Khaine was shattered by Slaanesh but shards of his spirit can be called and given form as an Avatar of Khaine.
- Screw Destiny: Khaine went to war with the Eldar because he heard of a vision where he would be torn to pieces by the Eldar. He might however have misheard "by" instead of "because of".
- This Is Unforgivable!: Khaine's murder of Eldanesh was so heinous that Asuryan cursed him to have Eldanesh's blood forever drip from his hands.
- War God: Honourable and proud but harsh and unintelligent, Khaine personified the best and worst qualities of the warrior class.
Lileath the Maiden was the Aeldari goddess of dreams and visions, and represented the smallest and most beautiful of the Aeldari homeworld's three moons. It was Lileath who prophesied that the mortal children of Kurnous and Isha would cause the destruction of Khaine, therby starting the War Gods massacre of the Aeldari. Lileath was consumed by Slaanesh during the Fall.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Lileath is the goddess of psychic visions.
- Kill the Cutie: She was a fair Maiden who would end up being the first divine victim of the Great Enemy Slaanesh.
- The Hecate Sisters: The Maiden to Ishas Mother and Morai-Hegs Crone. Lileath was the youngest and most beautiful of the Aeldari gods, and represented the future of the Aeldari with her ties to the Maiden Worlds, the paradise worlds terraformed before the Fall for future colonisation.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Lileath was the first Eldar god that Slaanesh devoured.
The Crone Goddess Morai-Heg was once the consort of Khaine, mother of banshees and the Aeldari goddess of fate. During the War in Heaven, Morai-Heg refused to tell Asuryan the ultimate fate of the gods and was eventually consumed along with the rest of the pantheon during the Fall.
- An Arm and a Leg: Morai-Heg had Khaine cut off her hand so she could drink her own blood, which contained the essence of wisdom.
- Body Motifs: Craftworld Iybraesil use Morai-Heg's hand as their symbol.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Subverted. Morai-Heg claimed she could not answer Asuryan's question of their future. Instead she said only Eldanesh knew.
- The Hecate Sisters: The withered, ancient and blind Morai-Heg is the third of the three major Aeldari goddesses, representing the Crone to Lileaths Maiden and Ishas Mother.
- "Just So" Story: Morai-Heg and Khaine's story explains the origins of fire and the Howling Banshees Aspect Warriors.
The Aeldari god of smiths and craftsmen, Vaul was responsible for creating the most beautiful powerful artefacts of the pantheon. Crippled and bound to his anvil by Khaine for his attempted deception of the War God, Vaul was a great ally of the mortal Aeldari who still honour the master smith with their war machines collectively being known as Engines of Vaul.
- Cool Uncle: Vaul was happy to help Isha and Kurnous.
- Disabled Deity: After Khaine crippled him.
- Doomed Moral Victor: Vaul's defeat by Khaine represents the urge to create getting crushed by the need to destroy.
- Expy: As the blacksmith of the gods with physical disabilities, Vaul is essentially the Space Elf version of the Ancient Greek deity Hephaestus.
- Forged by the Gods: Vaul is the god of smithing and is credited with forging weapons from swords to the Blackstone Fortresses, arcane Space Stations with the power to destroy stars.
- Guile Hero: Vaul tricked Khaine by hiding a mortal sword among his gift of 100 divine swords. It didn't work.
- Ultimate Blacksmith: Aeldari mythology credits the smith god Vaul with the creation of some of their legendary weapons and it is said that a mortal who wields such a blade could stand against a thousand regular weapons.
Ynnead is the God of the Dead supposedly created from the collective consciousness of the Aeldari dead confined to the infinity circuits of every Craftworld. Ynnead had been prophesized to awaken and defeat She Who Thirsts once every Aeldari had died but attempts to awaken the nascent deity have resulted in the Whispering God begin to stir and his followers, the Ynnari, have begun a quest to allow Ynnead to fully manifest.
- Ambiguously Evil: There is much debate amongst Aeldari scholars as to whether the Whispering God represents the best hope for the survival of their race, the vain hope of the desperate or the tool of their extinction. There are even a minority that believe the entity to have been corrupted by She Who Thirsts and those that follow him will be damned for eternity.
- Ascended Extra: Ynnead was first mentioned in a piece of Flavor Text from the 3rd Edition codex supplement Codex: Craftworld Eldar and remained a minor part of the lore until the 6th Edition Codex Supplement: Iyanden fleshed out the concept. At the end of 7th Edition, however, the Whispering God started to become a more important part of the background material with the Warhammer 40,000: Death Masque starter set and the second Gathering Storm campaign book focusing on the rise of his followers and the eventual creation of the Ynnari faction.
- The Chosen One: It has long been prophesised that Ynnead is the last hope of the Aeldari, uniting the souls of the race's dead to defeat She Who Thirsts. The followers of the Whispering God, the Ynnari, are actively trying to bring about this prophesy without the need of their races extinction.
- Good Counterpart: Ynnead is an antithesis of She Who Thirsts. Both deities were created by the Aeldari and are empowered by the absorption of their souls yet, while Slaanesh is the Doom of the Aeldari, the Whispering God represents the best hope for the race's salvation.
The Aeldari who survived the Fall have splintered into a variety of very different ways of life to avoid the attentions of Slaanesh.
- Craftworlders: Also known as the Craftworld Aeldari or the Asuryani, the Craftworlders travel the galaxy in their Planet Spaceships living a life of discipline and self-denial.
- Drukhari: Sometimes known as the Dark Aeldarinote , the Drukhari are the piratical raiders and unrepentant hedonists who have created a depraved civilisation within the webway.
Descended from the first Aeldari to flee their increasingly decadent and depraved empire, the Exodites settled on isolated, primeval planets where they adopted a more primitive, tribal lifestyle devoid of much of their races advanced technology. When the Fall finally came, the Exodites survived the birth scream of She Who Thirsts largely untouched.
In the millennia since the Fall, the Exodites adapted well to their new situation, taming the massive Megadons that populate their worlds and embracing a nomadic existence following these saurian herds. In order to escape the clutches of Slaanesh, the souls of the Exodites are absorbed into their planets World Spirit, a system of menhirs, obelisks, and stone circles similar to the infinity circuits at the core of the craftworlds. Many Exodite communities have forged close ties with their kin on the craftworlds, trading raw materials and food for waystones, manufactured goods and defence. Biel-Tan in particular sees in these Exodite worlds the seeds of a new Aeldari empire and will quickly come to the aid of any Exodite world that comes under attack from an alien race, even after the craftworld's recent catastrophic fracturing. Exodite communities are also welcoming to Harlequin troupes and those from the craftworlds following the Path of the Outcast.
Despite their importance to the Eldar, the Exodites havent had rules in Warhammer 40,000 since a single unit of Dragon Riders was included as a Squad choice in the 2nd Edition Codex: Eldar, and have never had dedicated models. They did however supply various types of Eldar Knights for early editions of the large-scale Epic game system.
Notable Exodite tropes include:
- Badass in Distress: While they're a formidable foe, they're not a military power in their own right and are very vulnerable to spaceborne invasion: supplemental stories have seen Imperial invasions, Ork Waaaghs, Daemonic incursions, Dark Eldar raids, Tyranid Hive Fleets and, on one memorable occasion, the Exodite World itself turning out to be a Necron Tomb World. Needless to say, these often require a bit of outside help, with the Craftworld Eldar and Harlequins often aiding their Exodite cousins.
- Badass Native: Exodites generally live semi-nomadic lifestyles, using technology limited to pre-industrial levels. Despite the seeming primitiveness of their existence by galactic standards, they prove surprisingly deadly when threatened. In the books Promethean Sun and Feat of Iron, the Exodites of a single world fought three Pre-Heresy Legions led by their Primarchs (Vulkan, Ferrus Manus and Mortarian) and though the Astartes eventually prevailed, they were severely depleted from the casualties sustained.
- Defector from Decadence: They're descended from the Eldar who realized the horrible depravity of their pre-Fall civilization, and left to live new, spartan lives on the Maiden Worlds on the far-flung borders of their interstellar empire.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The original groups who left to colonize the furthest rim worlds who would become the Exodites brought with them a variety of large, dinosaur-like creatures they call dragons. The Exodites use them as beasts of both burden and battle. Their best-known warriors are the Dragon Knights, bands of warriors who ride smaller dragons as cavalry and wield laser-lances.
- Genius Loci: Exodite Maiden Worlds are outright stated to be sentient, due to The Lifestream.
- Jousting Lance: The traditional weapon of Exodite Dragon Knights is the laser lance, a powerful, if short-ranged, laser that can be discharged when the weapon strikes its target. During the 2nd Edition of the game, the Dragon Knights could use these weapons on the turn they charged into combat but had to switch to other weapons in subsequent rounds as they were too unwieldy to use otherwise.
- The Lifestream: The "Planet Spirits" of the Exodites are directly equivalent to the infinity circuits of the Craftworlds, being a repository for the spirits of their dead. The Planet Spirit grows thin crystalline tendrils through the crust of the planet, encompassing the entire world. In this regard, it is larger with more total psychic power than the infinity circuit of a Craftworld. However, because of this size that power is much more dispersed and thus less able to be guided and harnessed by living Eldar into purpose. This also makes Exodite Worlds very tough to invade, as when hostile troops land on the surface, the entire planet turns from a verdant paradise to a Death World. Luckily, for themselves, the Imperium has a solution to this.
- Home Field Advantage: What makes attacking Exodite planets so difficult. Not only are the Exodites personally great fighters themselves, honing their knowledge of their home planet and skill at war over centuries, but as depicted in the book Deathworld, the planet itself stirs its ecosystem like an immune system response to destroy the invaders. The Orks and Catachan on the world found themselves on a planet that turned rivers into boiling acid at their presence, and mobilized hordes of alien predators deliberately trying to wipe them out.
- Humongous Mecha: During very early editions of the Epic-scale game system, the Exodites piloted a number of mecha, of a similar scale to Imperial Knights, such as the multi-armed Towering Destroyer and the centaur-like Bright Stallion. While the concept was later reused for the Wraithknights fielded by the Asuryani, the Exodite Knights haven't made an appearance in the game or the background since that time.
- Recycled In Space: They're the 40K equivalent of Warhammer Fantasy's Wood Elves.
- Redemption Earns Life: When the Fall happened and the Eldar empire was obliterated, the Maiden Worlds escaped the cataclysm due to being so far away.
- Schizo Tech: They only forbid technology that eases their way of life, not military hardware with which to defend themselves. However, lacking the industrial base of other powers means that most of their military hardware has to be imported, usually from craftworlds, which means they have less of it to go around. This results in things like one of their most iconic units being lizard-riding cavalry clad in chainmail and armed with lances that shoot high powered (though short ranged) laser beams.
- Space Amish: The Exodites choose to forgo the technological conveniences that enabled the decadent lifestyle that led to Slaanesh's creation and which are typically seen in Craftworld society. They are considered to be somewhat backward, but otherwise decent people by the Craftworld Eldar, and are frequently visited by Outcasts from the path. Webway trade between them and the Craftworlds is also common, which means that when situations become dire Exodites will still field advanced Eldar weaponry. It is by choice that they live more simply otherwise.
Devotees of Cegorach, the Laughing God, the Harlequins are mysterious, nomadic players who travel between the craftworlds of the Asuryani, the Dark City of the Drukhari and the maiden worlds of the Exodites to share tales of the Aeldari mythic cycle through spectacular performances of acrobatic skill. Masters of the webway, the Harlequins know many of the labyrinth dimensions hidden ways and protect the fabled Black Library, a hidden craftworld that contains the knowledge collected by the Aeldari on the forces of Chaos and the myriad mysteries of the galaxy. Seeing no distinction between art and war, the Harlequins are also great warriors who oppose the forces of Chaos, and Slaanesh in particular, with deadly routines known as saedath, battlefield strategies that combine the deadly skills and weaponry of the Harlequins with mythical allegory. With the opening of the Great Rift, the masques of the Harlequins have become more active than ever, performing an altered version of the Tale of the Fall and incorporating a new character into their acts, Ynnead, the God of the Dead.
Though seemingly fragile, the Harlequins' wargear and unique psyker abilities render them difficult to target, they can navigate difficult terrain with ease, and their weapons make them lethal at both range and in close combat.
Although they have had models since the 1st Edition of Warhammer 40,000, the Harlequins have rarely been treated as a standalone forcenote , instead being included as a part of the army lists for other Eldar factions. In 2015 the Harlequins received their first solo codex and an updated model range. The 8th Edition Codex: Harlequins was released in May 2018.
Notable Harlequin tropes include:
- Absolute Xenophobe: While many Harlequin Masques will at least tolerate the presence of other races if they help in the fight against Chaos, the Masque of Frozen Stars view all the other races of the galaxy as nothing but vermin to be exterminated alongside the forces of the Great Enemy. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving the Frozen Stars a Masque Form, Stratagem and Warlord Trait that enhance their abilities in close combat.
- Arch-Enemy: The Masque of the Dreaming Shadow are dedicated to preventing the rebirth of the Necrons, putting just as much effort into the destruction of this ancient race as their fellow Masques put into opposing She Who Thirsts. Some amongst the Harlequins believe this commitment to be a waste of resources that could be better used opposing Slaanesh.
- Beware the Silly Ones: At first glance, the Harlequins look like a troupe of circus clowns who have become tragically lost — they wear colorful jester's motley instead of armor or uniforms, dance and pirouette into battle, and obsessively view everything they do, including warfare, as an elaborate stage performance — but they're some of the most skilled and lethal combatants in the entire galaxy. In one story, a single Harlequin carved a bloody swathe through entire squads of Custodes with contemptuous ease before finally being overwhelmed and captured; in another, a Shadowseer duelled Ahriman in single combat and fought well enough to force the ancient Chaos sorcerer into a retreat.
- Blade on a Stick: The zepherglaive is an elegant and perfectly balanced polearm used by those Harlequins who fight from the back of a skyweaver jetbikes. These weapons are wreathed in a molecular disruption field that allows them to cleave through flesh and armour with equal ease.
- Born Lucky: The Harlequins believe that those with exceptional luck are blessed by the Laughing God and such individuals often rise to become Troupe Masters. The 7th and 8th Edition rules represent this with the "Luck of the Laughing God" Warlord Trait that gives the Warlord re-rolls for some dice rolls that result in a roll of 1note .
- A Commander Is You: Elitist/Technical. If you play Militarum or T'au then these guys are a joke (Never better said!) at a distance but bad news if any of them reach you. Incredibly mobile with an average of 8" movement, flip belts that allow them to ignore intervening terrain and enemies, each one puts out a flurry of attacks in close assault that will chew through whole ranks of infantry in no time, armour-piercing weapons and leadership-targetting abilities and invul saves all over the place... but they still will falter under concentrated fire, and have very little long-range firepower themselves to retaliate. They also do not have much in the way of variety, relegating them mostly to Aeldari allies rather than a stand-alone force.
- Commedia dell'Arte: A huge out-of-universe influence on their design, copying their bright patterns and use of the same characters carried over between different performances.
- Cool Mask: All Harlequins wear masks to conceal their identity and evoke the features of characters from Aeldari mythology. Moreover, these masks can automatically shift their shape, color, or display different patterns. It is even said that the masks can take the appearance of a foe's greatest fears to unnerve them.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The Harlequin's Kiss not only involves piercing the target with the tip, but liquefying their internal organs as its monomolecular whip spins around inside them. Those who aren't killed instantly have a very painful bleedout after.
- Crystal Weapon: Harlequins use a number of weapons that incorporate psychically-reactive crystals in their designs. Prismatic cannons are centered around a shaped shard of psychocrystal surrounded by laser arrays, which produce and shape a powerful energy beam, while neuro disruptors consist of a gun's handle and trigger with a large piece of psychocrystal entirely replacing the barrel, which fires beams that bypass armor entirely and instantly burn out their targets' nervous systems.
- Cultured Badass: The Harlequins literally see no difference between breathtaking performances and life-or-death fights.Leman Russ: Harden your soul against decadence. But do not despise it, for the soft appearance of the decadent may be deceptive. One need only consider the Harlequin dancers of the Eldar to see the truth of this proposition.
- Dance Battler: Harlequins act as dancing entertainers, horrifyingly lethal shock troops, or both at the same time.
- Enemy Mine: The Harlequins will aid anyone fighting Chaos, regardless of preexisting conflicts.
- Glass Cannon: While almost all Aeldari factions are Glass Cannons to some extent, the Harlequins Exaggerate this by giving their basic troops a close combat statistics similar to many named characters, and have numerous high-powered, close-range shooting and armour-piercing weapons. Their defences, however, are weak, relying on speed, reflexes and misdirectionnote that will still see the fall easily to concentrated fire.
- Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: Many of the Harlequins seem to prefer to speak this way in the novels (Path of the Eldar, for example). Perhaps living a life as perpetual method actors influences them to work performance into their everyday conversation, or perhaps they just like the sound of rhyme.
- Highly-Conspicuous Uniform: The Harlequins have bright patterns on their clothes to intentionally make them more visible on stage. However, as they also incorporate holo-fields which scatters their image about to conceal their numbers and exact location, this might not be as much of a liability on the battlefield as it first seems.
- Horrifying the Horror: The Harlequins are allowed to come and go through Commorragh as they please, because they are the only people in the Materium the Dark Eldar are afraid of.
- Intangibility: The Harlequin's Caress is an arcane weapon that covers the hand of the wielder in a phase field that allows it to pass through solid matter so that they can directly damage their enemy's internal organs. In 7th Edition this was represented by a chance of inflicting an automatic wound and ignoring regular armour while the 8th Edition rules simply gives the wielder a Strength bonus and a reasonable Armour Penetration characteristic.
- Invisibility Cloak: Downplayed. Harlequins wear skintight holo-suits that project holograms to distort their outline, making it hard for enemies to see their true position. In-game, a Harlequin's holo-suit grants an Invulnerable Saves.
- I Know What You Fear: Harlequins' masks can show an opponent their deepest fear.
- Le Parkour: Harlequins effortlessly cross rough terrains and buildings thanks to their flip belts containing a small anti-grav generator. Thus, they are exceptionally mobile in all circumstances. In the 9th Edition rules, the flip belt allows all Harlequins model to ignore terrain when they move.
- Lost in Character: A particular risk when a troupe re-enacts the Fall. Solitaires are the only ones who can play the role of Slaanesh without genuinely going insane.
- Magical Library: The Black Library contains the accumulated Eldar history and Chaos lore, and is tucked away deep in the Webway, guarded by the Harlequin elite.
- Meta Guy: When they appear in the fiction they tend to make a lot of comments that could technically be about their performance, but work better as commentary on the story they're appearing in. Josh Reynolds is particularly fond of this portrayal, with the clowns knowing things like which characters are Saved by Canon and which are disposable bit characters. They also tend to not-so-subtley nudge events to keep everything on script. In the Fabius Bile trilogy they spend the whole time competing with some daemons to redirect the story while both sides come just short of directly acknowledging that it's a prequel. Appropriately enough, both the in-universe Magical Library of the Harlequins and the overall canon of Warmhammer 40000 literature are referred to as the Black Library.
- Monster Clown: Harlequins often affect this appearance in battle, utilizing their great speed, acrobatics, and holograms to appear everywhere at once, their expressive psychic masks reflecting their foes' own fears as they look upon them.
- Named Weapon: As with the Players themselves, even the most basic of power swords wielded by the Harlequins is named after one of the many weapons used by the gods and heroes of Aeldari myth. The hundred swords forged by Vaul for Khaine are particularly popular titles for the weapons of a Troupe.
- Only Sane Man: Ironically, they seem to be this compared to the rest of the universe.
- The Quiet One: The Masque of the Silent Shroud go into battle in absolute silence, accompanied by no sound other than the soft rustle of silk — even the sounds of their weapons are muffled and suppressed.
- Sexy Jester: They're extremely flexible and wear clothing that is usually skintight, and they're elves, so they're probably good-looking under the masks. Most people are too busy screaming in pain or terror to be Distracted by the Sexy, though.
- She-Fu: Used by both sexes. Harlequins equip themselves with "flip belts", a kind of wearable anti-gravity suspensor that lowers their effective weight. They use this to do elaborate leaps, flips, and cartwheels in combat, often jumping right over enemy's heads and out of range of their weapons. Combined with the holo-fields, an attacking Harlequin appears to be everywhere at once.
- Super Wrist-Gadget: Some of the Harlequins' melee weapons are wrist-mounted. The "Harlequin's Kiss" is a wrist-mounted weapon that functions something like a punch dagger, but instead of a blade it shoots a line of monofilament into the target then spins it around rapidly, pureeing the target from the inside. There is also the "Harlequin's Embrace", which shoots a cloud of monofilaments that tie a foe and contract around them, quickly reducing the enemy into chunks. Finally, the "Harlequin's Caress" is a small device that grants intangibility to the Harlequin's hand, allowing them to directly pluck the heart out of an adversary.
- Team Switzerland: Harlequins are welcome among all Eldar groups, and often broker truces and alliances between Craftworld and Dark Eldar.
- The Trickster: Cegorach the Laughing God, patron of the Harlequins, is one of the few of the Eldar gods to have survived the Fall. He is a trickster extrordinare, laughing at those he fools. It is said that only he knows all the secrets of the Webway, which he uses to lead his enemies on wild but fruitless chases. Occasionally he may succeed in saving a Solitaire's soul from its appointed damnation to Slaanesh, but this is rare. He is rumored in Eldar myth to even have tricked one of the C'tan to eat another. In the Harlequin codex, a newly-revealed prophecy reveals that the Harlequins are now working to set up the circumstances for Cegorach to trick Slaanesh into saving the Aeldari in the Rhana Dandra.
The heavy weapons specialists of the masques, Death Jesters are known for their macabre sense of humor and for their propensity for playing grisly jokes on their enemies during battle. In performances, they play the part of Death.
- Black Comedy: Death Jesters have a distinctly morbid sense of humor, which often manifests in battle by deliberately setting up macabrely humorous fates for their foes such as by killing enemy officers at the high point of a rallying speech or scaring sappers into running into minefields they just set up.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The Shrieker Shuriken fired by the Death Jesters contain a viral bio-weapon which expires quickly, but reproduces so fast that the target's own blood reaches a boiling point within seconds of impact after which they explode in a shower of gore, pelting their comrades with high-speed fragments of bone and secondary infections. Needless to say, this tends to be a weapon of terror as much as it is a death-dealer.
- The Grim Reaper: The Death Jesters, the few members of a troupe who play the role of death in their productions and wield heavy weapons in battle. Unlike the colorful outfits of the rest of a troupe, a Death Jester wears a dark outfit, decorated with the bones of their predecessors.
- Meaningful Name: The Shrieker Cannon used by Death Jesters fires hollow toxin-filled shurikens which make a distinct screaming noise as they fly through the air due to microscopic pores in their surfaces.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: A Death Jester's outfit is adorned with the bones of their predecessor.
The Harelquins' specialist psykers, Shadowseers use their abilities to sow fear and confusion among the enemies of the masques. They hold the distinction of being some of the very few psykers allowed to enter Commorragh. In performances, they serve as narrators and play the part of Fate.
- Backpack Cannon: The hallucinogen grenade launchers used by Shadowseers, known as pack grenade launchers in some editions, are typically worn by as a backpack, with their barrels pointing skyward over the wearer's shoulders, so that they have their hands free to wield additional weaponry.
- The Faceless: Unlike other Harlequin masks, which usually contain more or less stylized facial features, a Shadowseer's mask is always a blank, reflective oval.
- Magic Staff: Shadowseers carry miststaves, staffs crafted from psychically-reactive materials and designed to channel and augment their wielder's powers. Instead of being used to cast long-range effects, however, miststaves are intended to inflict psychic damage or influences by striking targets in melee.
- Master of Illusion: Shadowseers are particularly skilled at conjuring up phantom images, sounds, and feelings. During performances, they use this ability to create complex light shows, call up pyrotechnics, and stage miniature stories using illusory puppets and props. In battle, they instead use it conjure up horrifying sights and sow terror and confusion among enemy troops.
- Terror Hero: Shadowseers specialize in sowing terror and confusion among enemy troops, which they achieve through both their innate psychic abilities and their creidann grenade launcher backpacks, whose projectiles create holograms that can be tailored to any purpose.
Solitaires are not strictly part of the masques, and instead spend most of their long lives wandering the galaxy alone, briefly joining other Harlequins for a performance or a battle before moving on. They are seen as off-putting and taboo among other Aeldari, and only speak and are spoken to in ritualized, limited manner. The reason for this strange behavior is that Solitaires have no souls, dooming their essence to be consumed by She Who Thirsts — but also making them immune to psychic influences, and giving them the unique ability to play the part of Slaanesh in performances of the Fall.
- Meaningful Name: Solitaires are loners who only associate with troupes when their services are needed, either to perform as Slaanesh or on the battlefield.
- The Quiet One: Solitaires are typically perfectly capable of speech, but choose to remain entirely silent outside of ritualized dialogue during performances.
- Power at a Price: Solitaires surrender their souls to Slaanesh, and in doing so gain great power in return, becoming Lightning Bruisers without peer among the Eldar. Rather than be members of specific troupes like other Harlequins, they walk the galaxy going where fortune may take them, joining other Harlequin groups temporarily to enact certain rare performances or to join them in battle. Older fluff says that a Solitaire speaks and is spoken to only in ritual fashion, as their soullessness is seen as a threat to others they interact with. In performances, Solitaires are the only ones allowed to take on the role of Slaanesh, as anyone else doing so would be to invite the Chaos God's attention (which is never a good thing).
- The Soulless: Solitaires lose their souls in the process of becoming what they are. This renders them entirely immune to psychic influences, but dooms their essence to be consumed by Slaanesh on death.
- Super Speed: Solitaires are incredibly quick, able to move faster than even the pinpoint senses of their fellow Aeldari can follow. In-game this is represented by the "Blitz" ability that, in the 8th Edition rules, raises their already high Movement characteristic considerably, and increases the number of Attacks they can make in close combat.
- Walking the Earth: Rather than joining permanent troupes, Solitaires spend their lives wandering the Galaxy alone, charting courses through the stars based on their own inscrutable whims and the designs of the Laughing God.
Some Aeldari, particularly the young, often chafe at the strict discipline of the Path system and wish to experience freedom and the full range of emotions available to their race. Others fall prey to wanderlust, tiring of their everyday existence and yearning for the freedom of open space. Whether from the craftworlds of the Asuryani or the primitive worlds of the Exodites, such Aeldari leave their old lives behind to walk the Path of the Outcast, exploring the galaxy alone or in small bands.
There are two main varieties of Outcast in Aeldari society, Rangers and Anhrathe Corsairs. Those Outcasts that become Rangers remain loyal to their craftworld of origin, serving as its eyes and ears, executing missions on behalf of its Seers, or simply supplying intelligence gathered during their wanderings. When war calls, squads of Rangers will support their brothers as snipers, picking off the enemy's leaders and hampering their movements for weeks before the battle is joined. Those Rangers who are able to overcome the temptations of the Outcast yet still wish to walk the Path become Pathfinders, honing their skills until they become peerless scouts and infiltrators. The wildest Outcasts who take to the stars often form Anhrathe Corsair Coteries that plunder alien worlds and vessels, or hire themselves out as mercenaries to the highest bidder. These Aeldari closely resemble those of the ancient empire, as the life of a pirate allows the amoral and wild character of the Aeldari to surface fully. Despite this, many Corsairs retain ties to their homes and are quick to provide aid to Craftworlders or Exodites.
Many Outcasts eventually exorcise their wanderlust, returning to their home worlds and craftworlds to take up their former lives. Others feel the call of the Laughing God and join the Harlequin troupes, or fall from grace entirely and seek out the Dark City of Commorragh. Those that become enamoured with their new existence, meanwhile, remaining willing exiles until they die alone under distant stars, victims of the same self-destructive impulses that destroyed the Aeldari empire.
In the tabletop game, Rangers are a Troops choice for in Craftworlder armies and their rules can be found in Index: Xenos 1. Corsairs were the primary Eldar faction in the Battlefleet Gothic spin-off but are exclusive to Games Workshops Forge World departmentnote in the core Warhammer 40,000 game itself. The rules for using the Forge World Corsairs in 8th Edition are included in Imperial Armour Index: Xenos where they have also been given the Aeldari name, the Anhrathe.
Notable Outcast tropes include:
- Ascended Extra: As a space-based faction, the Corsairs didn't have much of a tabletop presence, until Forge World introduced an army list and a few unique conversion kits for them.
- Animal Theme Naming: Hornets & Wasps
- Dungeon Bypass: While craftworld-based Eldar use the D-Cannon as a light anti-tank weapon, Corsairs are known to use it in boarding actions where they have theirs specially tuned for careful short-range work. Its Sphere of Destruction can be used to cut perfectly round holes in bulkheads and allow them to bypass defensive strong points where attrition combat would work against them.
- The Exile: A self-inflicted example.
- Forbidden Fruit: Part of what makes the Path of the Outcast so attractive to young Eldar, and former Outcasts too disruptive if they return to the Craftworld to tell stories of the wonders they encountered in their travels.
- Guns Akimbo: The basic armament of Corsairs in their 8th Edition list is a brace of pistols. These weapons combine the rules for splinter pistols and shuriken pistols, representing the Corsair firing one of each weapon at the same time.
- Invisibility Cloak: Rangers wear chameleoline cloaks adapted from the Exodites, which help them blend in with their surroundings.
- Journey to Find Oneself: A common motivation for Outcasts from the craftworlds.
- Landmarking the Hidden Base: Averted. Hidden bases are the preferred choice.
- Multinational Team: Corsairs can come from a variety of origins. Many are outcasts from the craftworlds and a single ship might pick up crew from different craftworlds, but there are also exiles (voluntary or otherwise) from Commorragh and Exodites who tire of their subsistence-level lifestyle.
- Privateer: Several corsairs would qualify, usually being selective about avoiding targets that their home might take exception to pillaging, or hiring themselves out as deniable assets to other powers who want their rivals weakened.
- Private Military Contractors: Several outcast fleets take contracts to raid particular parties as privateers, or hit particular targets. Especially for ambitious individuals in the Imperium who had the wealth to spend, as they make excellent deniable assets.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: If you are willing to buy the dedicated units from Forge World. Walkers as Troops? Yes. Heavy Support and Fast Attack units as Dedicated Transports? Yes!
- Sniper Rifle: The Long Rifle carried by Eldar Rangers is a misnomer, as it is a form of laser weapon, similar to the long-las used by Imperial marksmen. However, the superior focusing crystals manufactured by the Eldar allow it to maintain better penetration qualities at range and it comes equipped with a scope designed to scan and highlight weaknesses in enemy armor so that the Ranger can better take advantage of it.
- Space Pirates: A common vocation for outcast fleets. Not all of them choose piracy, but piracy can get them some of the luxuries that they would normally miss for being off a craftworld.
- Walking the Earth: Most outcasts go where the winds of fate may take them.
The Aeldari have long been a race on the brink of annihilation, but a prophesy by the Farseer Kysaduras the Anchorite gave the dying race one final hope: Ynnead, God of the Dead. Although many dismissed this prophesy as wishful thinking, the growing darkness of the galaxy caused an increasing number of Aeldari to cling to this hope. A desperate gambit by Eldrad Ulthuan to try to prematurely awaken the slumbering Ynnead failed due to the intervention of Imperial forces, but a fragment of the gods power and consciousness nonetheless emerged. This fragment of the Whispering God merged with the exiled Aeldari Yvraine, empowering her with the deitys energies. Together with the mysterious warrior known as the Visarch, Yvraine has travelled the galaxy, preaching the hope of Ynnead and combating the forces of She Who Thirsts wherever they are found. Since beginning her quest, Yvraine has gathered together Craftworlders, Drukhari, Corsairs and Harlequins who have declared allegiance to the Whispering God to form a new faction: the Ynnari, also known as the Reborn.
Introduced into the Warhammer 40,000 at the end of the game's 7th Edition, the Ynnari played a large role in the events that led up to the release of 8th Edition. The rules for using the Ynnari in 8th Edition itself are included alongside the rules for the other Aeldari factions in the Index: Xenos 1 book released in June 2017 with update rules and background released in the October 2019 supplement Psychic Awakening: Phoenix Rising.
Notable Ynnari tropes include:
- Slaanesh, She Who Thirsts, despises the Ynnari for stealing the Aeldari souls that the Dark Prince craves above all others. Slaanesh has repeatedly sent powerful daemons to destroy the followers of Ynnead and has become obsessed with devouring Yvraine and the Yncarne. For their part, the Ynnari have dedicated their entire existence to the destruction of She Who Thirsts so that they can free their race from their self-inflicted doom.
- Asdrubael Vect, the Living Muse and Supreme Overlord of Commorragh, sees the Ynnari as a whole as a threat to his power and influence as an increasing number of Drukhari turn join the followers of Ynnead. Unable to move openly against them, Vect has used intrigue and manipulation to set his followers against the Ynnari and weaken their support within his city.
- Many Haemonculi are hellbent on destroying the Ynnari as the soul-magic of the reborn threatens their monopoly on immortality and because the Yncarne has been shown to be able to permanently kill Haemonculus for good.
- Badass Cape: The Lost Shroud is a silken cloak woven from the ectoplasmic remains of Biel-Tan's shattered infinity circuit. Those that wear the Shroud receive the blessing of Ynnead and are exceptionally hard to kill. In all versions of its rules, the Lost Shroud gives the wearer special rules that make them far harder to kill.
- Blinded by the Light: The Ynnari relic known as Mirrorgaze is a wraithbone helm decorated with the mosaic shards of the mystical Crystal Mirror. In battle, enemies find themselves blinded by light reflected from these shards, something that is represented in the 8th Edition rules by enemy models suffering a penalty when trying to strike the wearer.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Be they former-Craftworlder, Commorrite, Corsair, Harlequin or Exodite, all Ynnari forces incorporate some piece of blood red into their uniforms.
- Enemy Mine: The Ynnari have formed an uneasy truce with the Imperium because, while it is corrupt and xenophobic, it is the only force able to meaningfully help the Aeldari against the rising tide of Gods Chaos. In order to form this truce, one of their first major acts was to resurrect Roboute Guilliman to give the Imperium a strong leader, and they have even been willing to undertake missions for him if they consider them to be important enough.
- Haunted Technology: The Whisper extends to Ynnari vehicles and warships, where a psionic connection is made directly between the machine and the pilot. This is opposed to the Asuryani and Drukhari, who rely on Spirit Stones and more basic mechanical control systems, respectively.
- Healing Hands: Ynnari psykers are able to use the Word of the Phoenix psychic power to channel the healing energy of the mythological bird and, in the 8th Edition version of the power, return lost wounds to nearby units or even bringing an ally back to life.
- Hearing Voices: The Storm of Whispers Revenant psychic power allows a Ynnari psyker to force all nearby enemies to hear the voices of the dead. These whispering voices drive mortals to madness in mere moments, represented in the 8th edition rules by a chance to inflict mortal wounds against enemy units as the voices cause their victims to go catatonic.
- It is heavily implied that the "Whisper" that all inducted Ynnari can hear is the original connection the Aeldari once had to the Eternal Matrix, once-severed with the birth of Slaanesh and now slowly being re-established with the birth of Ynnead.
- Hope Bringer: Since the Fall, the Aeldari have believed that they were doomed to a slow decline that would result in their extinction during the Rhana Dandra, the final battle between Order and Chaos, and even the prophesy about Ynnead talked about the entire race dying to destroy She Who Thirsts. The Ynnari, however, are the Openers of the Seventh Way, a path that will allow the Aeldari to vanquish the malevolent deity they created without total extinction, and even the possibility of returning Aeldari souls to their bodies after death to recreate the ancient Aeldari cycle of reincarnation.
- Multinational Team: The Ynnari count members from every Aeldari culture, be they Asuryani Guardians, Drukhari Wychs, Exodite Dragon Warriors or Harlequin troupes. On the tabletop, this allows Ynnari armies to be constructed from any Aeldari units except for named characters, Solitaires, the Avatar of Khaine, Mandrakes or anything from the Haemonculus Covens.
- Necromancer: While the abilities of the Ynnari tend more towards Soul Power than true necromancy, their Ynnead-granted ability to manipulate the souls of the dead can replicate many traditional necromantic abilities, such as communicating with the spirits of the deceased, bringing the dead back to life, returning full consciousness to the souls bound within Rubric Thousand Sons or Aeldari Wraith-constructs, and stripping the souls from the bodies of their enemies.
- Reduced to Dust: The Ynnari relic weapon known as the Hungering Blade, is said be so deadly that a single scratch can turn its victim to dust in a heartbeat. The 7th Edition rules for the blade gave it the Fleshbane special rule, allowing it to always have a high chance of killing its target, while the 8th Edition rules give it a chance of causing a mortal wound on those it strikes.
- Soul Power: Due to their close connection to the God of the Dead, the Ynnari are capable of manipulating souls. Once fully-inducted into the Ynnari, Craftworlders no longer require their Spirit Stones (indeed the connection between the individual and their stone is permanently severed), and Drukhari are not only freed from the soul thirst that plagues all their kind but also regain some of their atrophied psionic potential, allowing them to psychically communicate and also interact with Ynnari technologies. While only the most powerful Ynnari are able to steal the souls of their enemies or bring the dead back to life, even their least powerful members being capable of communicating with the souls of the deceased to gain advantage of their experience. In all editions of the game they appear in, the Ynnari have a number of special rules, psychic powers, Warlord Traits, abilities and Stratagems that represent them manipulating soul, such as their faction wide ability Strength from Death that gives them additional abilitiesnote after a unit (friend or foe) is destroyed nearby.
- Sword of Plot Advancement: The Ynnari believe that the croneswords forged from the severed fingers of Morai-Heg, the goddess of fate, are the keys to fully awakening Ynnead and defeating She Who Thirsts. While four of these arcane blades have been recovered, the fifth and final cronesword has been stolen by Slaanesh's daemons and hidden within the Dark Princes palace.
Yvraine, Emissary of Ynnead
Born on the Craftworld of Biel-Tan, Yvraine walked a number of Paths, including the Paths of the Warrior and the Seer, before leaving her home for the Path of the Outcast. Unable to settle into a single role, Yvraine spent some time as a Ranger and a Corsair before finally taking to the arenas of Commorragh where she had gained some notoriety as a Succubus. Yvraine's life would have ended in the Crucibael, the greatest Wych arena of the Dark City, had the slumbering God of the Dead, Ynnead, not chosen the capricious warrior as his emissary, empowering her with a portion of his deathly energies.
Yvraine now travels the galaxy attempting to bring Ynnead to full wakefulness, seeking artefacts and knowledge that will aid her in her cause. Thus she has become the founder and voice of the Ynnari, interacting with the various Aeldari factions and other alien races to further the goals of the Whispering God.
- The Ace: Yvraine's skills are exceptional, even by Aeldari standards. In battle, Yvraine is a match for Lelith Hesperax, the greatest living Wych of the arenas of Commorragh; she is a powerful psyker whose arcane abilities are only exceeded by the likes of Eldrad Ulthuan; and she is also a genius able to memorise everything in great detail. Many believe that her wide range of expertise was one of the reasons Yvraine was able to become the Emissary of Ynnead, as she was the closer in mind and body to the pre-Fall Aeldari than any other.
- Arch-Enemy: Supreme Overlord Asdrubael Vect seeks revenge against Yvraine for the insult to his pride that she inflicted when her ascension damaged his city. Vect has put a massive bounty on Yvraine's head and dispatched Drazhar, the de facto leader of the Incubi, to slay the Emissary of Ynnead.
- Aura Vision: Due to her Soul Powers and connection to Ynnead, Yvraine is able to clearly see people's soul, as well as feel the power of artefacts that have a connection to the God of Death.
- Back from the Dead: While fighting in the arenas of Commorragh Yvraine was killed at the same moment that a ritual to prematurely awaken Ynnead, the God of the Dead, failed. As a result of this fateful timing, Yvraine's soul was infused with the energies of Ynnead and she was returned to life as the High Priestess of the Whispering God.
- Battle Strip: The ornate and impressive dress that Yvraine wears over her sleek wychsuit is impractical for the Daughter of Shade's combat style and, according to some background material and an interview with the miniature designer, has been designed so that it can be quickly removed to enable her to fight unencumbered.
- The Chosen One: Due to Yvraine experiencing the life of the Asuryani, the Outcast and the Drukhari, she is closer in mentality and experience to the Aeldari from before the Fall than any other member of her race. This, coupled with Yvraine dying at the same time as Ynnead began to awaken, allowed the God of the Dead to choose her as his emissary and foremost agent in the material universe.
- Combat Hand Fan: During her time as a Succubus in the arenas of Commorragh, Yvraine wielded a bladefan in her off-hand. Since becoming the Ynnead's Emissary, Yvraine continues to wield the deadly and elegant weapon alongside the cronesword Kha-vir, although this isn't represented by her 8th Edition rules.
- Cool Sword: Yvraine wields Kha-vir, the Sword of Sorrows, one of the mythical croneswords. Kha-vir possesses a razor sharp edge and reduces anything it cuts into drifting ash. In-game, the 7th Edition rules gave Kha-vir the Instant Death special rule while the 8th Edition rules gave it a Strength bonus and the ability to cause multiple wounds.
- Creepy Good: While Yvraine works to defeat She Who Thirsts and ensure the future for the entire Aeldari race, there are many that find her soul powers even more disturbing than the necromancy performed by Spiritseers and so are reluctant to cooperate with her.
- Dance Battler: The first Path that Yvraine trod was the Path of the Dancer and she still fights with the fluid grace that she learned during this time. During her battle with the daemons of Slaanesh on the crone world of Belial IV, this training allowed her to reproduce the battle dance of the Harlequins, one of the few non-Harlequins ever to be able to do so.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Yvraine went from Path to Path, mastering them all, and still felt unsatisfied. Leaving her craftworld, Yvraine continued to drift as an Outcast, and then a Corsair, before finally becoming a Wych in the arenas of Commorragh. Even the life and death thrills of the arena were not able to satisfy her, however, and it is only when she was chosen by Ynnead to be his emissary that she found purpose.
- Destructive Saviour: Yvraine is leading the fight to destroy the greatest enemy of the Aeldari, She Who Thirsts, but her actions have often led to considerable death and destruction. One of the most extreme examples of this was her attempt to save the souls within Biel-Tan's infinity circuit from a daemonic invasion and claim one of the croneswords by summoning the Yncarne, the Avatar of Ynnead. This act resulted in the shattering of the craftworld itself and earned the ire of its Seer Council.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Yvraine's model, and all the artwork of her, always depict her as barefooted to emphasise her mystical nature and so that her footwear doesn't get in the way of her fighting style.
- The Face: As well as being the faction's de facto leader, Yvraine also acts as the most prominent diplomat of the Ynnari, dealing extensively with alien races who could prove useful and spreading the hope of Ynnead to the other Aeldari cultures.
- Familiar: Yvraine inherited a soul-bound Gyrinx familiar, a lynx-like creature that boosts its master's psychic abilitiesnote , from the Altansar Warlock Guentilian after she gave up her soul to Yvraine to assist the Ynnari cause.
- I Have Many Names: Even before she became the Emissary of Ynnead, Yvraine had acquired a numbers of titles and synonyms such as Amharoc (the name she used as an Aeldari Corsair Captain) and the Daughter of Shades (the name she earned while fighting in Commorragh).
- Man Bites Man: During her final fight as a Wych, a severely wounded and desperate Yvraine resorted to biting the face of her opponent, a priestess of the Crone Goddess Morai-Heg, to get enough time to strangle her to death.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Yvraine's dress incorporates a tight-fitting bodice that incorporates wraithbone designs that reference the designs of Asuryani rune armour while also emphasising her bosoms.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Yvraine wears an ornate dress that has a train almost as long as she is tall, is hung with spirit stones, decorated with wraithbone runes and incorporates a bustle held together with knives. Due to the impracticality of fighting in such an outfit, the background material mentions that it is also designed to be quickly removed so that Yvraine can fight in her wychsuit.
The Visarch, Sword of Ynnead
The champion of Ynnead and his Emissary, the Visarch is a mighty and wise warrior who acts as bodyguard, teacher and advisor to Yvraine. Formerly known as Laarian, the Visarch was once the Dire Avenger Exarch who guided Yvraine on the Path of the Warrior. After Yvraine left his shrine, Laarian kept track of his former pupil and when he discovered that she had embarked on a life in the arenas of Commorragh, his strong feelings for her led the Exarch to break with tradition and abandon his duties, casting aside his name and travelling to Commorragh himself where he became a talented Incubus of the Coiled Blade shrine. Discovering a deep connection with the God of the Dead, the Visarch led his shrine into the service of the Whispering God and now fights alongside his former student once again.
- Badass Cape: The Visarch wears an ostentatious, fur-lined cape over his armour is similar to those worn by Exodite and Corsair lords. The design notes for the model mention that the cape is also intended as a Call-Back to some of the earliest Eldarnote models.
- Beyond the Impossible: All available lore indicates that becoming lost on a Path is irriverisible for an Aeldari — once they are lost, they are trapped on that Path forever. Laarian, however, was so impressed with Yvraine's fighting potential that he managed to buck off this trend and willingly devote himself to supporting Yvraine and the Ynnari.
- Bling of War: The Visarch wears highly ornate crimson plate armour from the ancient Aeldari empire that sports intricate filigree and face designs, and is studded with dozens of spirit stones.
- Bodyguarding a Badass: It is the Visarch's duty, and wish, to protect Yvraine from all harm, despite the fact that the Emissary of Ynnead is a powerful psyker and expert warrior in her own right.
- The Champion: The Visarch is the chosen Champion of Ynnead, charged with the destruction of the champions of Slaanesh, the other Dark Gods, and all those that oppose the awakening of the Whispering God.
- Cool Sword: The Cronesword Asu-var, the Sword of Silent Screams, is an icy-blue two-handed sword forged by Vaul himself that projects an aura of silence around the Visarch. In all versions of its rules, Asu-var boosts the Visarch's Strength characteristic and affects the Leadership of the enemy to make it more likely that they will flee from combat.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": After abandoning his duty as an Exarch, the Visarch abandoned his name and now even those who knew his name normally refer to him by his title.
- In Love with Your Carnage: The Exarch Laarian became obsessed with Yvraine because of her excellent potential as an Aspect Warrior and could never accept that she left the Path of the Warrior for the Path of the Seer. It was this obsession that led to him abandoning his shrine, following her to Commorragh and eventually becoming the Visarch.
- Mentor Archetype: When he was Exarch Laarian, the Visarch mentored Yvraine as she walked the Path of the Warrior. While he is no longer her teacher, however, he still acts as one of her closest advisors now that she is the Emissary of Ynnead.
- Mind Hive: As a former Exarch, the Visarch possesses the souls of all the previous Aeldari to hold the position bound to his own and, since becoming one of the first of the Ynnari he also has the ability to absorb the souls of all those who die around him. While his own soul is dominant, the Visarch is able to draw upon the skill and experience of all these souls in battle as the situation demands.
- The Quiet One: The Visarch rarely speaks, and when he does it is usually to give sage advice about the situation at hand. While he is more likely to speak to Yvraine than anyone else, even she has been surprised when he does so from time to time.
- Sour Supporter: While he is devoted to the Emissary of Ynnead, there have been many times where the Visarch has disagreed with Yvraine over a certain course of action, and when he breaks his characteristic silence he often does so to argue with her. One of the most contentious issues between them is Yvraine's willingness to accept missions from Roboute Guilliman, Lord Commander of the Imperium of Man, with the Visarch accusing her of being the Imperium's lapdog. This naturally angers the proud Yvraine a great deal, especially since she thinks he might have a point.
- Supernatural Fear Inducer: The Visarch's cronesword, Asu-var, projects an aura of silence that steals the voice of his foe as easily as it takes their lives. This unnatural silence drives those with a weak will into fits of terror as they are enveloped by the silence of the grave. The exact effect of this ability varies depending on the edition but usually involves some sort of penalty to enemy Leadership.
- Taking the Bullet: The Visarch is utterly devoted to Yvraine and will willingly throw himself in the path of any attack aimed at her, allowing him to take, in 8th Edition, mortal wounds for every wound that he intercepts.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Despite, or perhaps because, of his devotion to her, the Visarch does not get along with Yvraine. They have drawn swords on each other several times, and the few times they speak it's usually arguing about something. The Visarch is especially unhappy with the way Yvraine keeps doing errands for Roboute Guilliman up to and including going into the Gardens of Nurgle to retriev a Chaos Artifact, accusing her of being the Imperium's lapdog. This naturally angers Yvraine a great deal, especially since she thinks he might have a point.
- Withholding Their Name: The Visarch cast aside his name when he abandoned his duty as an Exarch. When he met Yvraine, one of his former students, he refused to give her his name but she still realised his true identity due to his knowledge of her past and his fighting style.
The Yncarne, Avatar of Ynnead
The physical incarnation of Ynnead, the Yncarne is a beautiful yet terrifying figure of salvation and death. A being created from the energies of death itself, the Yncarne is surrounded by a psychic vortex of chilling power and ghostly whispers that invigorate the Ynnari and terrify their enemies. First summoned from the daemonically infested infinity circuit of Biel-Tan, the opponents of the Ynnari believe that the Avatar of the God of the Dead has been irrevocably tainted by the Great Enemy but, to the Reborn themselves, it is a figure of awe and a validation of their faith.
- Ambiguously Evil: Due to the manner of its birth from the corrupted infinity circuit of Biel-Tan and the fact that it shares many physical characteristics with the daemons of She Who Thirsts (such as the half-and-half gender and the twisted horn on the right side of its head), many of the Ynnari's detractors believe that the Avatar of Ynnead has been irrevocably tainted by the Great Enemy.
- The Berserker: The Yncarne is often described as having a particularly savage fighting style, particularly when fighting against the daemons of She Who Thirsts, even going so far as to rip foes apart with its bare hands when necessary.
- Creepy Good: While the Yncarne represents the hope of survival for the Aeldari race and the ultimate defeat of She Who Thirsts, mortal creatures still find the Avatar of Ynnead to be extremely unsettling and it has been described as "hissing and whispering in the voices of the dead".
- Ghostly Chill: The Yncarne is the physical incarnation of the god of the dead and is said to possess an aura that exudes a chilling power that leaves a trail of hoarfrost behind it.
- Horned Humanoid: The Yncarne has a long, twin-pronged horn growing from the right side of its face, a feature that many of the Ynnari's opponents point out is strikingly similar to the horns of Slaanesh's Daemonettes.
- Humanoid Abomination: The Yncarne is the physical embodiment of the macabre God of the Dead and is described as being a beautiful but terrifying monstrosity of bone and souls that exudes a Ghostly Chill and is surrounded by a whirlwind of morbid energies.
- Magic Knight: The Yncarne is an expert at dealing death with both, both physically and with its psychic abilities, possessing a statline equal to that of the Avatar of the Aeldari War God, and psychic abilities on a par with many high level psykers.
- Morph Weapon: The Yncarne wields Vilith-zhar, the Sword of Souls. This powerful Cronesword is able to transform into any weapon that suits the Yncarne's immediate needs, from a BFS to a pair of smaller blades, and anything in between. While this has no effect on the tabletop, the Yncarne model itself is able to be constructed with either a single large blade or a pair of smaller ones to reflect the background material.
- Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous: Much like the daemons of Slaanesh, the Yncarne's body is split into a male left half and a female right half. While it depends on the edition and writer, when the Yncarne appears in the lore, the narration will typically refer to the Avatar of Ynnead as "it" or by name.
- Physical God: Like the Avatar of Khaine, the Yncarne is the physical incarnation of a fraction of a gods power, allowing the slowly awakening deity Ynnead to exert a measure of influence upon the mortal plane.
- Power Floats: The Yncarne is held aloft by the deathly energies that it exudes, drifting towards its enemies at the centre of a psychic hurricane of power.
- Screaming Warrior: While it has not been shown to speak, the Yncarne is often described in the background material as unleashing loud shrieks or shouts like the howls of departed souls while in a battle.