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Exploring Warhammer 40k: The Eldar

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Video transcription:

The Eldar.It's often pretty easy to see the influence
of fantasy on Warhammer 40k, especially sinceit was created as a spinoff of Warhammer fantasy.Humans vs orcs is a pretty standard fantasy
trope that is also present in 40k, but anotherrace that was brought over to some degree
are the elves, in the form of the eldar.In fact, with the works of Tolkien being such
an influence, the term Eldar was one of thenames applied to elves in middle-earth meaning
people of the stars.Eldar in 40k are similarly tall and slim with
pointed ears, long lived and superhumanlyagile, but are also an inscrutable dying race.Let's take a look at the history of the Eldar
in the milky way, their current situation,and their potential future.The early history of the eldar is perhaps
as mysterious as the eldar themselves are,and is largely lost to time.In modern times, troupes of performing eldar
called Harlequins put on theatrical showsto tell tales of the eldar beginning, but
it's tricky to determine what is truth.It does seem that the first eldar were created
by the ancient race known as the old onesin order to assist them in their war against
the c'tan and the necrons, much like the firstorks.While the original orks were created for their
physical might and savagry in combat, theeldar were created with their pyschic potential
at the forefront.The old ones of course were mostly eradicated
or scattered, and the necrons went into hibernation,leaving the eldar room to expand and take
over the galaxy.During this time, the eldar were connected
to a number of gods, or god-like beings.This is where things get a little murky, as
the exact nature of these entities and theirconnection to the eldar is pretty much lost
to time, and we're left with current eldarmythology.It's possible that the eldar were capable
of creating entities inside of the warp dueto the power of their psychic abilities, and
so they made god-like entities as servants,bent to their will.It's also possible that these gods were the
first eldar, elevated to godly status, orperhaps even specific old ones that received
the same treatment.Either way, these gods were a part of the
warp, but according to their mythology, theyalso were capable of walking among the early
eldar as well.I won't go into too much detail on the eldar
gods here, as the topic could certainly bea part of its own video, but i'll quickly
summarize.One goddess had a vision of the eldar destroying
the god of war, and so the god of war decidedto slaughter the eldar before that could happen.The slaughter of eldar was so brutal that
eventually the leader of the gods steppedin and created a barrier between the warp
and realspace, preventing further interaction.Two gods, believed by modern eldar to be the
parents of the eldar race, asked the god ofsmiths for help in bypassing this barrier.The smith god created spirit stones that allowed
the gods to communicate with the eldar.The god of war eventually discovered this,
and because they had broken the rules, theleader of the gods decided that they would
be given over to the god of war for punishment.He continually tortured them, and at a certain
point the god of smiths stepped in to makean agreement: he would give the god of war
one hundred swords in a years time in exchangefor their release.The god of war agreed to this, and so the
smithing began.In one years time however, the god of smiths
had only created 99 swords, and so he tooka normal mortal sword and hid it in the pile,
hoping it would go unnoticed.The god of war accepted the delivery, and
released his two prisoners, only to realizethe ruse afterwards.A war began between the god of war and the
god of smiths, with many other gods takingsides.The god of smiths finally finished crafting
his hundredth sword, the greatest of all ofthem, and took it to fight the god of war,
one on one.Even with the tremendous sword, he was no
match for the god of war however, and so hewas defeated.The sword was stolen away however, and ended
up in the hands of Eldanesh, the greatestof the eldar heroes.Eldanesh took up the sword and went to face
the god of war in a heroic duel, and althoughhe fought well, he too was defeated.The god of war slaughtered eldanesh, becoming
known as Khaine the bloody-handed, and theleader of the gods finally stepped in to stop
the war.Mythology aside, the eldar began to spread
across the galaxy, in part to their own psychicprowess and in part by being able to make
use of some of the old one technology.The principal piece of technology available
to them was the webway, a series of networkedportals and tunnels that allowed for faster
than light travel.This gave them a tremendous advantage over
every other species in the milky way, andthey easily pushed back other species to the
fringes of space.Nothing threatened the eldar empire, and in
time, concepts of physical labor became completelyforeign to them, utilizing robots to perform
all of their basic tasks.Nothing was beyond their reach, and the galaxy
was filled with countless utopian planetswhere eldar could experience any pleasure
they could conceive of.When an eldar did die, their souls went into
the warp, which was much more peaceful thanit is now, and they were eventually reborn.Unfortunately, pride goeth before a fall,
and the eldar certainly did fall.With many eldar left with no purpose other
than fulfilling their own indulgences, theirtastes for pleasure began to become wilder
and darker.Countless small cults began to pop up across
the galaxy devoted to different aspects ofdark pleasures.Order began to fall apart as trends of sadism
spilled out into the open, murderers prowlingthe streets looking for victims to satiate
their desires.Many eldar did however oppose this new trend,
seeing the corruption for what it was, andso they fled the eldar civilization into the
fringes of the empire.Life was difficult for these groups however,
as they were unused to physical labor andlooking after themselves.For years, the eldar had been plagued with
visions from the warp of a sleeping entityand the seers knew that the eldar were heading
down a path of darkness and suffering.The depravity of the eldar and their natural
connection to the warp continued to causethis entity to stir.Finally, after thousands of years of descent
into darkness and depravity, the dark godcame into being.Slaanesh, god of chaos and dark prince of
pleasure was born, a mirror of the eldar'sfall into perverse delights.Slaanesh's birth was not a quite one either,
as it roared into existence, causing countlessterrible warp storms to break out across the
galaxy.Every eldar heard the psychic cries of slaanesh,
and each suffered because of it.Although there were some that managed to survive,
trillions of eldar had their souls rippedfrom them and sucked into the warp.Every eldar within a thousand light years
of the epicenter of slaanesh's birth was lefta lifeless husk, but there were those eldar
that managed to survive the fall of the empire.Most of the eldar gods are also said to have
been devoured by Slaanesh during this event,with only three survivors.Most of the surviving eldar found refuge on
the massive craftworld spaceships flying throughdeep space.Craftworlds are vast self-sufficient ships
generally thousands of miles long, capableof sustaining billions of individuals for
indefinite periods.Each craftworld possesses its own culture,
some more traditional, others more aggressivetowards other alien races, others aggressive
towards even other eldar craftworlds.The craftworlds are built using a material
called Wraithbone, a substance rather uniqueto the eldar.Wraithbone is essentially solidified warp
energy, taken from the immaterium and givenshape by specialized eldar called Bonesingers.Aside from its innate psychic capabilities,
wraithbone is extremely durable and strong,and is also capable of repairing itself of
damage.The Eldar use wraithbone for many purposes,
including their ships, buildings, weapons,constructs, and more.Wraithbone's psychic capabilities allow it
to carry psychic energy like a current, allowingeldar to use it as a communications network
or to control objects remotely.Additionally, it was this psychic connection
that protected the inhabitants of the craftworldsfrom the deadly psychic scream of slaanesh.And so, fragments of the Eldar empire lived
on, with many of them turning away from thedebauchery that spawned Slaanesh in the first
place, but not all.The eldar living in a dark city located within
the webway continued their depraved way oflife, eventually becoming the drukhari, or
dark eldar.Slaanesh still hungers for the souls of every
living eldar, savoring the taste of each one,leading the eldar to refer to slaanesh as
She Who Thirsts.By this point, other races such as humans
and orks have continued to conquer parts ofthe galaxy, leaving the surviving eldar as
just a small part of the larger puzzle.The eldar are simply too scattered and too
few to compete with species that spread likewildfire.That being said, the eldar are cunning, sophisticated,
and proud, and so they're not defenseless.Eldar technology is not what it once was,
as before their fall they were among the mosttechnologically advanced species to ever exist,
but after the fall of their empire this changed.Part of this was simply the mass scattering
of the surviving eldar, but part was doneon purpose, as the eldar that lived after
the fall realized that their utopia is whatled them down a dark path.For some, this casting off of technology was
more extreme than others, as the eldar thatfled before the fall abandoned almost all
of their heightened tech.Most craftworld eldar abandonded a lot of
tech that wasn't necessary for their survival,including their advanced terraforming tools
and their most frightening weapons.Much of the webway was damaged or destroyed
during the fall, and only portions of it remainintact that allow the craftworlds to link
with one another.Much of current Eldar technology is based
on their inherent psychic abilities, althoughmost eldar are careful about their psychic
use to prevent chaos intrusion.Each eldar living on a craftworld is meant
to follow a specific path, basically a rolewithin their society that they must study
and experience.Once an eldar masters a path, they choose
another one to follow, and so on.Since Eldar tend to live a thousand years,
with some of them living much longer, an eldarcould potentially master numerous paths.Many paths are what you would expect, such
as the path of the warrior, path of the artisan,or path of command.The path of awakening focuses on analyzing
one's surroundings, the path of service focuseson serving others, and the path of the seer
focuses on an eldar's pyschic abilities, suchas handling spirit stones that carry eldar
souls, or on shaping wraithbone.Occasionally an eldar will become obsessed
with a single path, refusing to choose a newone upon mastering it, and they are said to
be lost upon the path.Other eldar that don't follow the path system
include the exodites, those who fled beforethe fall to far-flung planets, the corsairs,
basically eldar space-pirates, the drukhari,or dark eldar, and the harlequins.The harlequins recognize no authority other
than their god, Cegorach, known as the laughinggod, one of the few deific survivors of slaanesh.The harlequins are unique even among the unique
eldar, as they enigmatic, artistic, and highlydeadly.They combine both war and art into a performance,
showcasing extreme agility, balance, and dexterityinto a ballet of death.In addition to their proficiency in combat,
they are also talented storytellers and theatricperformers, and they take on the role of remembrancers
for the eldar race.They travel across the galaxy, visiting any
other groups of eldar as well as other species,and tell tales of eldar history, including
their fall.It's said that the harlequins are one of the
few that know of the location of the blacklibrary, a vast repository of eldar knowledge.When a craftworld eldar dies, their soul becomes
trapped in a spirit stone that they keep ontheir chest.This spirit stone is taken back to the craftworld,
where the soul is then deposited into a partof the ship called the infinity circuit.This component, part of the wraithbone skeleton
of the vessel, acts as a well of psychic energyand as a group consciousness of deceased eldar.Without the infinity circuit, eldar souls
would go into the warp to be devoured by slaanesh.These stored souls will occasionally be taken
out of the infinity circuit and placed intoeldar constructs, allowing a dead eldar to
psychically control them.Many eldar believe that when all of the eldar's
souls are held within infinity circuits, theirsouls will combine and form a new god, Ynnead.Ynnead, god of death, will subdue slaanesh
and allow the eldar to be reborn into a higherform.They believe this is the eldar's only hope
for the future.Obviously, many other eldar are against the
idea of their only salvation coming when theyare all dead.A new development however has led to the creation
of a faction of eldar that believe they canawaken ynnead without sacrificing all of the
eldar race.This faction, the Ynnari, are planning to
utilize 5 legendary swords created from thefingerbones of a goddess to do so.So far, they have managed to find 4 of the
5 swords, and have successfully awoken anavatar of the god of death called Yncarne.Whether the ynnari will be eventually successful
in awakening Ynnead and whether Ynnead willmanage to subdue Slaanesh remains to be seen.The eldar are certainly unique among the various
warhammer 40k species, being limited in number,technologically advantaged, and sophisticated
in war.Despite their existence as a dying race, they've
been clinging to life for some time now, andit doesn't seem like they're going anywhere.While perhaps not the galactic-level warmongers
that other species like the orks, tyranids,humans, or chaos forces are, the eldar manage
to hold their own alongside the others.

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