What are the Eldar? A Powerful Guide for Understanding Warhammer 40k

Aeldari Farseer

What are the Aeldari? A Comprehensive Overview

The mysterious Aeldari, also known as the Eldar, are an ancient, highly advanced alien race whose vast empire once spanned the Milky Way galaxy. Today, they are a dying people clinging to survival after a terrible catastrophe nearly wiped out their entire civilization millennia ago. In this article, we will explore the history, culture, society, and military forces of the enigmatic Aeldari.

A Brief History of the Rise and Fall of the Aeldari Empire

The Aeldari are one of the oldest intelligent races in the galaxy, with a history stretching back millions of years. At the height of their power, the Aeldari reigned as the undisputed masters of the stars, dominating the galaxy with their advanced technology and potent psychic abilities. Their empire was without equal, spanning both realspace and the labyrinthine dimension known as the Webway.

The Aeldari built paradise worlds across the stars to indulge every pleasure and desire. With their advanced automation and psychic mastery, they eliminated all need for manual labor or agriculture. Aeldari life was dedicated to intellectual, artistic and hedonistic pursuits. Over time, many Aeldari became increasingly decadent, turning to ever more extreme sensations and vices. Dangerous pleasure cults gained power across Aeldari society.This descent into depravity would ultimately doom the Aeldari empire.

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In the Immaterium, the psychic reflection of the Aeldari’s dark obsessions coalesced into a new Chaos God – Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure. Slaanesh’s birth unleashed a psychic shockwave that consumed the souls of almost every Aeldari, toppling their empire in an apocalyptic event known as The Fall

Only those Aeldari farthest from the epicenter survived the birth of Slaanesh. Some had settled frontier worlds called Exodite Worlds, while others fled aboard massive starships called Craftworlds.

The Aeldari that remained in the Webway also endured. From the ashes of their fallen empire, the survivors rebuilt their culture in different ways, becoming divided into several factions including the Asuryani Craftworlders, the Exodites, the sinister Drukhari, the mysterious Harlequins, and the newly risen Ynnari.

The Major Aeldari Factions

The Asuryani Craftworlders – The largest faction, the generally benevolent Asuryani inhabit continent-sized Craftworld ships that travel the stars. Their rigid culture revolves around the Asuryani Path, a discipline to safeguard their minds and souls. Asuryani use Spirit Stones to protect their souls from Slaanesh after death. Each Craftworld has its own unique culture, tactics and colors. Famous Craftworlds include Ulthwé, Alaitoc, Iyanden and Biel-Tan.

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The Exodites – Exodites inhabit verdant Maiden Worlds on the fringes of the galaxy. They lead primitive, tribal lives with little advanced technology. World Spirits psychically protect Exodite souls after death. They ride reptilian beasts into battle and aid Craftworlds against threats.

The Drukhari – Cruel Drukhari inhabit the Dark City of Commorragh deep in the Webway. They engage in piracy, enslavement and torture to stave off Slaanesh, feeding on the suffering of others. Ruled by Archons, the Drukhari are highly advanced but also deeply sadistic and corrupt.

The Harlequins – Devoted to the Laughing God Cegorach, the Harlequins serve as keepers of Aeldari myths and history. Their performance art preserves ancient Aeldari culture. Harlequins also defend the Black Library and can travel freely between Aeldari factions.

The Ynnari – The Ynnari follow Ynnead, the Aeldari god of the dead. They believe uniting the Aeldari race against Slaanesh will awaken Ynnead fully, allowing him to destroy Slaanesh and free the Aeldari from damnation. The Ynnari draw followers from all factions.

Eldar Farseer

Aeldari Physiology, Society and Culture

To human eyes, the Aeldari appear similar to humans but with taller, leaner bodies, angular features, and pointed ears. However they are as psychically and mentally alien as they are physically.


All Aeldari possess innate psychic abilities and sensitive, intellectual minds. Their thought processes and emotions are extremely intense, with the capacity for both transcendent joy and melancholia. Aeldari experience sensations and feelings much more deeply than humans.

Aeldari are also extremely long-lived by human standards, with lifespans stretching over a thousand years. Their minds and reflexes are correspondingly swift.Culturally, the Aeldari once produced a sophisticated civilization that created legendary works of art, architecture, music, and literature.

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Aeldari society was dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, self-expression, and aesthetic perfection. The surviving Aeldari are fractured but still cultivate a shared history and culture, particularly through the retelling of ancient myths and legends. Their language and writing system is based on intricate runes which are psychically reactive.

Aeldari Military Forces and Tactics

Despite their declining numbers, the Aeldari remain a potent military force. Their advanced technology and psychic prowess allow small groups of Aeldari to overcome much larger forces.

Asuryani Craftworlders field elite specialist warriors called Aspect Warriors, each dedicated to a particular combat style and Aeldari war god.

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Famous Aspects include the Dire Avengers, swooping Hawks, dark Reapers, nimble Swooping Hawks and the psychic Warlocks. The Avatar of Khaine, the embodiment of the Aeldari war god, also leads Craftworld armies.

Craftworlds also deploy grav-tanks like the Falcon and Wraithguard/Wraithlord constructs animated by the spirits of fallen Aeldari. Small numbers of Guardians provide supporting militia for the elite Aspect Warriors.

Exodite warriors ride to battle on reptilian war beasts, especially the dragon-like Cold Ones. They wield lances and scatter-lasers while charging across plains in tribal hunting packs.

Harlequins field elite warrior-dancers who flip, tumble and slash across the battlefield with blinding speed. Death Jesters specialize in killing from afar while Skyweavers attack from above on anti-grav bikes. The Shadowseer leads with hallucinogenic psychic powers.

Ynnari often field mixed Aeldari forces, combining the elite skills of Asuryani and Drukhari with the Harlequins’ speed and trickery. The Yncarne, avatar of Ynnead, wields mighty psychic power on the battlefield.

Aeldari warfare emphasizes speed, maneuverability, technological sophistication, and psychic ability. Their weapons are elegant and deadly while their grav-vehicles skim gracefully across the battlefield. Aeldari strike fast with overwhelming force before fading away, relying on mobility and subterfuge to defeat numerically superior foes.

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The Aeldari are a mysterious, elegant and sophisticated race with a dark, tragic history. Their ancient empire is now in ruins but they cling to survival through strict discipline, protective magics and their martial prowess. United, the various Aeldari factions could rebuild their lost glory. Divided, they remain a dying people facing extinction. Yet Aeldari pride and tradition keeps them ever defiant against the growing threats and enemies that beset their scattered realms across the stars.



  1. What are the main differences between the Aeldari factions? The Asuryani Craftworlders, Exodites, Drukhari, Harlequins, and Ynnari each have distinct cultures, beliefs, and ways of life. The Asuryani follow the Path system, the Exodites live simple lives, the Drukhari engage in piracy and torture, the Harlequins serve as keepers of history, and the Ynnari seek to unite the Aeldari against Slaanesh.
  2. How do the Aeldari protect their souls from Slaanesh? Craftworld Aeldari use Spirit Stones to safeguard their souls, while Exodites rely on World Spirits for protection. The Drukhari stave off Slaanesh’s hunger through acts of torture and cruelty, and the Harlequins find sanctuary in the service of Cegorach, the Laughing God.
  3. What role do Psykers play in Aeldari society? Psykers, such as Warlocks and Farseers, are essential to Aeldari society. They use their psychic abilities to guide their people, predict the future, and defend against the dangers of the Warp.
  4. How do the Aeldari approach warfare? Aeldari warfare emphasizes speed, precision, and the use of advanced technology. Their armies are led by Avatars and consist of elite Aspect Warriors, supported by grav-tanks, wraith-constructs, and the unpredictable Harlequins. The Ynnari seek to unite the various factions in their fight against Slaanesh.

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