Eldar (Warhammer 40,000)

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

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


The Fall

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

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

Upon dying, the soul of the deceased traverse the bounds of the physical realm and go to rest within the warp. As more and more Eldar died, the souls began to coalesce into a larger entity due to the higher "density" of the Eldar mind. A representation of the hedonism that had taken over their lives was created. This collection of souls gained sentience sometime in the early 30th millennium, creating the being known as the Chaos god Slaanesh. When Slaanesh came to be, an ethereal explosion occurred, with the epicentre being the Eldar homeworld. All Eldar caught in the immense blast were instantly obliterated, their souls consumed by Slaanesh. Most of the remaining Eldar gods were eaten by Slaanesh.

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

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