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 Help me piece together what pre-fall eldar society might have been like

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Ynneadwraith
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PostSubject: Help me piece together what pre-fall eldar society might have been like   Sun Nov 06 2016, 13:00

Although it's not directly described (apart from directly before the Fall in the Asurmen books), there are generally more hints dropped about pre-Fall Eldar than DAoT mankind so we should be able to piece together a reasonable amount through hints.

I've got a couple of references that i can think of, but i'd greatly appreciate anyone else weighing in as doubtless there's tons i've missed!

Apologies for the oncoming wall of text! Anyone who gets through it shall get a medal Wink

First off, i think it's fairly clear that both CWE and DE eldar society is radically changed from what the Eldar were like pre-fall. In the Asurmen book, it shows that the Eldar Aspects and the Path system as a whole were created as a postfall coping mechanism. Secondly, the Dark Eldar are described as being closest to pre-Fall eldar of the two main factions (with Corsairs being described as closer still), but they're described as 'closest' rather than 'close' and so much has changed in Dark Eldar society post-Fall that i'd be willing to bet it's mostly unrecognisable (replacement of the noble houses with kabals etc.).


To map things, i'll fairly arbitrarily split pre-Fall history into early (during the War in Heaven), middle (after the War in Heaven but before the slip into hedonism) and late (during the hedonistic period).

Immediately pre-Fall and the Haemonculi
We know that during late pre-Fall eldar society there was rampant violence, pleasure cults and various other nasties running alongside more traditional aspects of the eldar culture.

From the old Dark Eldar codex we know that there were individuals known as Dark Muses, which subverted power in late Eldar society. Commorragh was also formed in the early days of this period as a refuge from the law for the earliest pleasure seekers. We're also told that the Haemonculi have their origins in the masters of pre-Fall eldar society. Are they the descendents of these Dark Muses?

Pre-Fall Eldar warfare and the nature of Khaine
We know that the Eldar themselves didn't really partake in warfare during the late period, their battles being fought by legions of psychomatons which i picture as sort of close to wraithguard, but powered by summoned daemons derived from their gods (probably the war god, Khaine). What if the eldar myth of Khaine declaring war on the Eldar is a racial memory of an uprising of these psychomatons?

In their early period during the War in Heaven, the eldar are described as fighting the Yngir (Necrons) alongside Khaine himself. Could that actually be mortal Eldar fighting alongside these psychomatons infused with the daemons of Khaine? Or, if the concept of Khaine originated as an Old One (or more likely an Old One race/faction), were they fighting alongside the warriors of the Old Ones in this battle?

Also, my vision of the very early War in Heaven eldar warhosts is based on the concept of the Old Ones 'weaponising the warp'. In my mind, eldar hosts were primarily very powerful psykers summoning vast numbers of daemonic beings to fight, alongside powerful roiling psychic storms and bokts of energy. As their technology progressed, they developed shells of psychoactive materials (wraithbone) to bind these summoned beings into to create the psychomatons.

The description of eldar characters fighting the Yngir, the Hresh-Selain and the Autochtinii (all described as ancient enemies of the Eldar) indicates that early Eldar warfare was actually conducted by the Eldar themselves, possibly meaning that the reliance on psychomatons for warfare was probably a later development.

Eldar vehicles, both civilian and military
We also know that they likely travelled around in skimmers. Dark Eldar Raiders are described as being derived from/reminiscent of the old pleasure yachts that Eldar used to cruise around in. It's also not a great leap to assume that Eldar Jetbikes were once civilian craft. If the eldar didn't really go to war themselves, then i doubt they'd have eldar-piloted armachines in ready supply. This probably means that all eldar vehicles are likely either converted civilian craft, or post-Fall inventions.

Eldar societal structure
Also, Saim-Hann's culture is described as being similar to pre-Fall eldar society, meaning that they were likely a clan-based society with strong family ties. Also, we're told of noble houses that ruled Commorragh before Vect came to power, so as a society the had a royal elite.

We also know that Vect was born a slave in Commorragh before the Fall, indicating that slavery was present, at least in the dark corners of the webway, beyond the jurisdiction of the eldar high council (another snippet into eldar society).

We know that there was a significant religious aspect to pre-Fall eldar society, with priests and temples to their gods being present.

Also, it may be that at some point in their history the eldar were divided into two factions. In myth and legend, two warring families or individuals or gods are often proxies for historical warfare between two ancient factions (see theories of greek myths as indicative of cultural and military invasion). The houses of Eldanesh and Ulthanash could be two such factions, which according to myth were at war with one another before uniting against common enemies on two separate occasions (the Hresh-Selain first, and Khaine second).

Lastly, we know that the craftworlds were once massive trading vessels that plied the breadth of the eldar empire and maintained a differing culture due to their time away from the core worlds of the empire (allowing them to see the extent to which the eldar had changed). These craftworlds picked up survivors/refugees bith before and after the Fall, so current craftworld cultures are likely fusions of the original craftworld's cultures and refugee populations from different eldar worlds.

Extent of the pleasure cults and the origins of the Dark Eldar
In the Asurmen books, i also gather that immediately prior to thee Fall, the core Eldar worlds were far more in the grips of the pleasure cults than the outer worlds. Furthermore, i gather that there are the first hints of what would become Dark Eldar raiding parties during the Fall indicating that either the practice of piracy originated then, or pre-dated the Fall.

Technology
One of these proto-dark eldar is described as having wings grafted to him like Scourges so Eldar body modification likely pre-dates the Fall.

An eldar ranger interrogated by the Inperium said that 'the stars once lived and died at our command', indicating the possible ability to create and destroy stars with ease, although given the source that may well be lies and deceit to try and intimidate the interrogator.

Someone also pointed out that the process of reincarnation that the eldar could do pre-fall could be technologically based rather than an innate biological ability. The technology the Dark Eldar have now for resurrecting slain eldar is close enough to reincarnation that it could realistically be based on the ancient tech used for reincarnation, with cloning a later derivative.

We can also safely assume that the vast majority of the eldar technology tree was psychically based. All craftworld technology is psychically based, amd it's only due to the psychic atrophy of the Dark Eldar that they are forced to expand into other technologies. This would also explain why the eldar don't use their most potent weapons, legions of psychomatons and other pre-fall superweapons: they can't without attracting the attention of She-Who-Thirsts.

Any other mentions of what society was like? I haven't read the Asurmen books myself so likely there's more detail there. Does anyone have any more detail on Corsairs as they are described as being similar to pre-fall eldar. Speculation as well as existing fluff is also welcome Smile
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CurstAlchemist
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PostSubject: Re: Help me piece together what pre-fall eldar society might have been like   Sun Nov 06 2016, 20:58

According to the 4th Edition Codex for Eldar, the Eldar had the ability to shape, shift, or destroy stars at will and didn't care about the effect it would have on other races (which we also know do to the stolen stars in Commorragh). They didn't fear utilizing the warp to their own gain and their souls could "sift" through it to be reincarnated again without fear.

It is mentioned that theoretically the Eldar could live forever and their technology "far surpassed" anything seen even now in the Warhammer 40k universe. "Bodies could be rebuilt, souls refused to the physical, changed or altered at will."

Planets could be drained of resources and be reformed again by the Eldar or new ones could be formed as they wished.

While labor was not a necessity for the Eldar some still entered "servant-hood" in order to indulge in a particular skill or type of work.

The Eldar would periodically force other races into slave work.

Part of the break down, near the end of their Empire, leading to the fall was the absence of real leadership. The Eldar pretty much did what they wanted as individuals and there was no real governing body.
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PostSubject: Re: Help me piece together what pre-fall eldar society might have been like   Mon Nov 07 2016, 06:58

Perhaps the psychic constructs were taken over and dragged into the Warp by she who thirsts?
Where did you hear about them? I never knew they existed...
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PostSubject: Re: Help me piece together what pre-fall eldar society might have been like   Mon Nov 07 2016, 11:31

Very interesting points both Smile

Interesting about the psychomatons being dragged into the warp by She-Who-Thirsts. I'm sort of doing that with my idea for a Croneworld Eldar army, using Spite Revenants to represent chaos-twisted psychomatons.

I'm not certain where the name actually comes from, but they're mentioned in the Torturer's Tale certainly. Shall see if I can dig it up Smile

The lack of leadership pre-Fall is definitely a thing. There's a quote from the old Dark Eldar codex that goes:

Quote :
The Ailing Pantheon c.M19-M24: The worship of the traditional Eldar gods begins to wane as new sects and societies rise to power. The Dark Muses, many of whom are synonymous with sensual vice and sin, become the unofficial figureheads of the new order.

Later, things definitely devolve into anarchy. Over on dakka, Robin5t posted this very helpful insight:

Quote :
Lemme just grab my copy of Asurmen...

Okay, so we see the several stages of decadence that the Pre-Fall Eldar fell into in this novel, over unspecified periods of time.

The first is when the decadence first begins to set in - nobody's chopping anyone up for sport or anything, but they spent all their time either chilling, thrillseeking (in a way we would recognise, we see one of their extreme sports where riders with personal shields go surfing on a coronal ejection). Everyone is relaxed all the time, there's no effort involved with anything. At this point, the only people who realise what's wrong are the ones who will become the Exodites, and are treated very much like a doom preacher on the street corner of any major city on modern earth - silly and to be ignored.

After this, we see the next 'stage' - the 'Doomsayers' have become much more common and also more politically powerful, and are able to use this political power to gain the resources required to seed the Maiden worlds. At this point, the rot is really starting to set in and we see reference to many types of sensationalist 'fanatics' - star-riders, war-thieves, void-chasers, bodyshifters, warpwalkers and turnskins amongst others. We can extrapolate from the names what many of these groups do fairly easily.

During this time-period, we also see an argument between Illiathin (one of the regular Eldar) and his brother Tethesis (one of the Exodites) that you may find interesting - in which the latter argues that they do not strive any longer and that their lives have no meaning, while the former believes that they live their pleasurable lives to honour the ones who came before and were not able to live in such a way. We see mention of 'generations who lived and died on starships to seed the world we inhabit', 'Forefathers that travelled the cold gulf between starts to harness the webway gates that stretch from one end of civilisation to the other', and 'millions that died fighting wars against countless mon-keigh species, dying to create peace for those who came after'. The suggestion is that times were certainly not so easy for the earliest generations of the Eldar.

We then, over another unspecified period of time, move up another notch - the situation when we next see it is becoming reminiscent of Commorragh. There's still a functioning society, but there are cults and gangs capturing and preying on people for pleasure and amusement. The Exodites are gone, the ones who will become the Craftworlders are in the process of leaving as well, but some of the Eldar who understand what is coming stay behind in the core worlds and form vigilante organisations called the 'True Guardians', doing what they can to stop the pleasure cults through violence.

Finally, we see Eldar society immediately before the Fall and as it happens - and there isn't one. It's just a wasteland of deranged wrecks desperately trying to get a fix of some kind of exhilaration or feeling - like what Commorragh would become if they were cut off from all sources of slaves for decades on end. Then the Fall happens, and we see how the few survivors eke out a living in the post-apocalyptic wasteland like a very futuristic Fallout game.

Someone also pointed out that pre-Fall Eldar did not have any contact with DAoT mankind.

Quote :
Each Craftworld originates from one of the ancient Eldar planets...Over the centuries the Craftworlds' occupants sought out other surviving Eldar amongst the far flung Exodite colonies, and even began to settle new worlds of their own. In this way the paths of the Eldar and mankind met for the first time and humans became acquainted with the most ancient and enigmatic of the galaxy's living races.

p. 5, 2nd edition Eldar Codex

Seems unlikely, given that it's older fluff from before the two empires were concurrent, but we can still explain it with logic. First off, DAoT mankind was still in their colonisation/expansion phase when they were laid low by the Men of Iron. This means that they can't have been galaxy-spanning. Second, by the time mankind rises, the Eldar have already begun their descent into hedonism and likely wouldn't have cared much for the universe outside of their empire.

Plus, the universe is a big place. Could easily never have met. The geography of empires in 40k is only based very loosely around adjacent physical space. Its geography is actually dictated by the proximity of stable warp routes. Thus, you could theoretically have two empires that are based around adjacent star systems very close to each other physically, but never actually meet because there's no stable warp route/webway tunnel between them.

There's also a bit of fluff from Rogue Trader regarding a xeno race called the Stryxis, who apparently loathe the Eldar so much it borders on pathological, so the two races are certainly implicated at some point pre-Fall.

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