The Eldar are an ancient race of elf-like humanoids. Once they dominated the Galaxy but are currently a dying race. With the Fall of the Eldar they lost their main homeworlds and are currently scattered among the stars.
Superficially, the Eldar appear very similar to humans, though they are generally taller and slimmer, with sharp features and pointed ears. They are long-lived by human standards, and most will live more than a thousand years unless they die from accident or disease. Eldar also have much faster metabolic rates than humans, and their cardiac and neurological systems are more advanced. These traits manifest in their vastly heightened reactions and agility compared to humans. To them humans seem to move in slow motion with a certain degree of awkwardness, while to humans the Eldar can move with distracting grace and can be blindingly fast in combat. As a race they have a high level of psychic ability, which serves as the foundation of their technology. The Eldar that actively cultivate their psyker potential seem to exhibit a much-extended lifespan as well, one proportional to their prowess. The Farseers of the Eldar can live for several thousand years. Eldar are mentally far superior to humans, and feel all emotions much more strongly, requiring the Eldar to exercise constant restraint to avoid mental break down.
Eldar seem to reproduce in stages, with new genetic material being added by the father to the developing embryo over an extended period. This process is ill-understood, but Eldar autopsies are suggestive of it.
The existing Eldar are essentially a refugee population, the scattered remains of their former strength and power. Even in such straits, however, they are still a powerful force in the galaxy. Once, ten thousand years ago, the Eldar were among the most powerful and dominant race of the galaxy, dominating a significant portion of the galaxy and secure in their prosperity. Although there were other races of advanced technology and military power, none were in a position to seriously threaten the state of the Eldar nation. When it came, the disaster was internal. Consumed by arrogance and with no need for substantial work or labour, the Eldar began to pursue any curiosity or desire. Rapidly, cults devoted to exotic knowledge, physical pleasure, and ever-more outrageous entertainment sprang up. It did not take long for many of the Eldar to take a darker path, descending into dark study, instant fulfilment and unbridled violence, beginning the Fall of the Eldar.
Many of the Eldar grew uneasy with the actions of their comrades, and the wisest of the Seers warned that the path could lead only to evil. Disgusted, some of the Eldar left the central worlds of the Empire to settle on the outlying regions, while others stayed to try and alter the path their race had taken.
While this would have been destructive within any society, it was even more damaging for the Eldar. Within the parallel realm of the Warp, the psychic emanations of these activities began to gather, strengthened by the souls of departed followers and cultists. As the Eldar vices grew, this collection did as well, until it eventually came into a life of its own. It finally came to consciousness as Slaanesh, Devourer of Souls and doom to the Eldar, for the psychic scream of its birth tore the souls from all the Eldar within a thousand lightyears of it. Its awakening was so forceful that it tore a hole between physical space and the Warp, plunging the Eldar homeworlds into a limbo of partial existence. This region is now known as the Eye of Terror, and is now the home of the forces of Chaos. Many Eldar survived the Fall and remain trapped within the Eye on the homeworlds of the Eldar, the Crone World, and are enslaved to Slaanesh.
Since this time, which is known only as The Fall, the Eldar have been a broken and scattered people, lacking cohesion and purpose. The Eldar population is constantly dwindling.
The Eldar are known to be a very spiritual people, and much of their culture is based around their mythological cycles. The most famous of these cycles was the War in Heaven, an epic conflict between the Eldar deities, in two factions lead by Vaul, the god of the forge, and Khaine, the god of war.
With two notable exceptions, the Pantheon of the Eldar is considered to have been destroyed by the birth of Slaanesh. While the Eldar still revere all the gods and preserve their stories within the mythic cycles, they do not call on them for aid or hope for their intervention any longer. Still there is a prophecy telling of the return of the Eldar gods and how they will battle and destroy Slaanesh as a unified pantheon. Whether this is anything but an old myth remains to be seen in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
Technology – Eldar Armoury
Eldar Armoury – The Eldar Armoury contains information on Eldar weaponry and wargear, including the standard Shuriken weaponry that uses gravitic forces to fire monomolecular-thin discs at the enemy. The Eldar use these weapons in the form of Shuriken pistols, Shuriken cannons, and a light carbine known as Shuriken catapults. Spirit stones – When the Eldar die, their souls are in danger of being devoured by the Chaos god Slaanesh. To prevent this, the Eldar wear spirit stones, which capture and contain their souls at the moment of death. These stones are then collected and inserted into the Craftworld’s “Infinity Circuit”, where they may rest along with the spirits of their ancestors. In times of need, the spirit stones of the Craftworld’s strongest warriors may be taken from the Infinity Circuit and placed inside Wraithbone automatons, such as the Wraithguard and Wraithlords, to once again fight for the Craftworld. Webway – The Eldar do not travel through the Warp in the same manner as other races, having long ago developed a much faster and safer method known as the “Webway”. This is a system of ancient “tunnels” through the Warp which is completely isolated from its inherent dangers. It is best imagined as a vast and tangled network of doorways between fixed points in realspace, by which the Eldar can travel far more rapidly than most races. However, if there is no Warpgate near their destination, or the one present is not big enough to permit the necessary forces, they are a disadvantage. Much of the Webway has fallen into obscurity and disrepair, with tunnels and doorways sealed or broken. This often forces the Eldar to make connecting stops on their way to their destination. Finally, it is said that the fabled Black Library of Chaos resides somewhere within the Webway, though only the Harlequins know where. Wraithbone – The main construction material of the Eldar, and the staple of their psycho-technic engineering. It is brought forth from the warp and shaped by Bonesingers through psychic power. It is used to create the Craftworlds of the Eldar, their tanks and other vehicles, constructs such as the Wraithguard and Wraithlords, and weapons and armour. It is a psychic conductor and so not only provides the structure for the things built of it, but also power distribution and communications. Wraithbone is a highly resilient material, and capable of limited self-repair. It, and the other building materials of the Eldar, will grow and react more like tissue and plants than the building materials of other races.