The Fair Folk
Anatomy & Morphology
They are lithe and slightly shorter than humans, with similar hair growth to them and most so-called civilised biped races. There is no noticeable difference between the two genders in eldar races, at least none that is not found in most biped species. The distinction between the genders is not just visual, however. Generally speaking, eldar males have an earthy quality about them while females are often described as more ethereal, which can be ironic given their ferocity when defending their young.
Barring accidents or violence, an eldar can live forever. Though the average member of the species can live for two thousand years or more with little trouble, a few manage to reach at least three or four millennia. Old age is not normally a problem, but Eldar are still susceptible to disease, and a blade will cut them down as it would a member of any other species.
Genetics and Reproduction
While their numbers are relatively low compared to the other species, birthrates are only slightly lower than those of humans.
Growth Rate & Stages
Young eldar are considered children until they are in their third decade and, by the time they reach the first century of life, they are treated as young adults. Those older than fifteen centuries are considered elders.
Ageless and immortal, they never look much older than in their late twenties or early thirties. Despite the lack of apparent ageing, however, it is fairly easy to tell older eldar apart from the younger ones, especially when standing together. Females appear to visually age slightly slower than males, but both genders gradually become silver-haired as they approach the age of 1500.
Ecology and Habitats
Given how widespread eldar are, their architecture is often the one to heavily influence the mood for the region they are in. Usually, eldar buildings follow smooth lines and seem flawless in design, regardless of the materials used. Public buildings have elaborate designs that make them stand out even more, whether their intention is to impress, inspire or intimidate.
Dietary Needs and Habits
By nature, eldar are omnivores, just like most biped species and capable of consuming both plants and animals. Depending on the climate and the specific culture of an area, however, some may choose to remove certain types of food from their diet. Each race seems to have a preference for a single food type, but they will not shy away from eating anything that will sustain them.
Specific customs about eating vary from one place to the other, but eldar, in general, treat food as an activity meant to be shared with those they care about. Unless it is a matter of survival, most of them prefer meals that were made with some thought and rarely dive into whatever is placed in front of them. Whether or not they adhere to proper table manners is another issue altogether.
While their family structure is often similar to that of humans, there are a few differences. The union between two people is traditionally seen as personal and private, and the concept of marriage as anything formal is alien to most eldar. That attitude started to change after the return to Earth, with all the laws, privileges and regulations that surround marriage.
Parents are responsible for children, but their immediate kin is expected to help raise them. Eldar have no problem exposing their children to the realities of life. They will still protect them from most of the unpleasant ones or those they believe they are not ready to experience and appreciate. Most races maintain close familial ties, even after the young adults leave their parents to live on their own.
By tradition, eldar society was matriarchal, letting women deal with administration. Even before the five races created their kingdoms on Mithbar, the species was ruled by a queen with varying degrees of power and control over her subjects. After their separation, each race started using their own variation, ranging from patriarchy to meritocracy and from oligarchy to democracy.
Eldar are generally considered attractive by most other biped species, though there are some rather notable exceptions. They have pointy ears, with length varying between races, and bright animal-like eyes.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
Over the centuries, eldar have formed and lost vast empires and kingdoms on two planets. While they lost everything during the Sundering and the decades that followed, they managed to rebuild and thrive. After the Exodus, the eldar can be found in five worlds. They also were among the first to join humans in exploring the universe, in an attempt to stall their ennui.
Civilization and Culture
Though it is rare, some eldar choose names in their common language, especially if they believe they are meant for positions of leadership and authority among their species. A more popular use for common language names is using them as titles for various ranks and offices, which only enhances the opinion that such terms and names sound rather pompous and pretentious.
Average Technological Level
Before the Exodus, the eldar races had to deal with a variety of tools and advancement levels, ranging from stone age to post-modern technologies. Due to their long lives, eldar have the potential to be excellent scientists. Despite that, most among them show little interest in pursuing these fields beyond what is necessary for their duties.
Major Language Groups and Dialects
Like most species, the eldar have a language that is spoken by almost all members of the species. It focuses on the ideals of harmony and cooperation and was created during their first shared civilisation. The dialects of each race actually predate it and share only a small common base. The common language sounds archaic to younger members but flowing and graceful to outsiders.
Common Dress Code
For the most part, eldar follow the trends of whatever area they are in, but there are certain traits that are common in most members of the species. Utility is given as much thought as style, but Eldar prefer elegant lines and jewellery that compliment their appearance. From casual to formal, Eldar outfits are designed to perform a certain task and showcase their superiority.
Many are surprised to find out that Eldar are quite fond of tattoos and piercings. While the specifics change from one race to the other, all such markings are highly symbolic and rarely, if ever, done lightly. More extreme types of body modification are seen as impractical and are generally avoided. In contrast, more temporary forms of decoration are quite popular.
When it comes to their weapons and armour, style is valued as much as efficiency and most Eldar smiths will engrave their creations with various designs. Those that can afford it, often get personalised weapons and armour, marked with the symbols of their group, family or even their own sigil. Marked arms that used to belong to famous Eldar are sought-after.
Culture and Cultural Heritage
There is no single form of art or entertainment that eldar, as a species, value above others. That said, most seem to prefer activities that rely on graceful movement or quick wits. Dancing, music, painting, and mental challenges like puzzles or riddles are among their favoured pastimes. Visual arts are also appreciated, with the elegance of style being as important as the content it presents.
After their return to Earth, eldar have been quite active in sports activities of any kind, not the least of them being the New Olympic Games. Always eager to compete, they prefer events relying on speed, balance and precision, to those demanding brute force. Despite their enthusiasm, there are no professional athletes among them, and they participate for different reasons.
Eldar humour usually relies on subtlety, elegance and quick reflexes, with interactive verbal comedy being quite popular. Duels of wit are common among friends, and members of the same group are expected to tease each other, as long things do not get too far. Physical comedy, on the other hand, seems to be an acquired taste and not all races are as accepting of it.Daily life
For most eldar, the day begins at dawn and ends a bit after midnight. They tend to do things familiar to most civilised biped species but, as they get older and start fall to ennui, they devote more and more time to things that challenge them and push their limits further. For most races, the average day is split equally between work and duty, personal time and socialising.
Not shying away from nocturnal activities, eldar often forgo sleep and continue throughout the night. In most cases, the activities taking place under the moonlight are not related to their daily duties but are devoted to private dealings or social interactions. Many choose to rest for a few hours during the day, extending their activities well after dark.Medicine
There is no uniform attitude towards the physical form among the eldar, either for the living or for the dead. Some are knowledgeable in a variety of medical fields, while others know as much as an average member of another species, if not less. While they tend to be pragmatic and clinical about medicine, some superstitions about certain aspects of life and death hold.War
If there is one thing all eldar Races have in common, is that they rarely choose direct confrontation if they can help it. Be it ranged attacks, the use of misdirection and stealth, deadly poisons and traps or even the various abilities offered by Attunement, it is rare to find one of the Eldar willingly meeting an opponent head-on, at least not without preparation.
Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals
Being the first Terran species to harness the power of Attunement, eldar would forever earn a place in human myths as the magic-wielding Fair Folk. Each race had its own elite group of Attuned that called the shot, and they were equally feared and respected by the rest. By the time of the exodus to Mithbar, eldar had become more used to it and Attunement was viewed as a blessing.
When a child shows signs of Attunement, they are usually assigned a mentor to oversee their progress. The nature of this mentor varies depending on the race, but all Attuned are expected to receive formal training in their abilities. As a result, there are very few wild casters compared to Attuned of other species, while there are relatively many Grandmasters.Time
Before the Exodus, every eldar race followed their own internal calendar, though still adhering to the used by western countries for practical reasons. There are no known common holidays or important dates for the species. As with humans, anniversaries and birthdays can be important, but eldar consider the date of their naming to be of equal, if not greater, importance.Education
While not always true, most eldar are well educated in both academic topics and the lore of their race and region. It is not uncommon for older members of the species to take younger ones in apprenticeship for a few decades, passing on to them all they know. Students are expected to surpass their mentor and are encouraged to do so by their peers and elders.Heraldry
Eldar are quite fond of symbols and make extensive use of heraldry. Each group, or even family, claims its own symbols and may borrow from nature, art or lore to create their identity. In the modern world, the same attention is given when designing company logos or even gang signs and colours. Often, the various emblems worn by an Eldar give a sense of their standing.
Eyes and celestial bodies are favoured by all races, even though each colour that choice with their own ideals. Animals play a prominent role in the heraldry of larger groups, while smaller ones go for simpler designs. Proud of their personal and collective achievements, Eldar often use the tools of their trade when designing their symbols, whether for a single person or a group.
As a whole, eldar are neutral towards sexuality and do not display any distinct attitude regarding it. Monogamous heterosexual relationships are the norm among them, but any alternative is not treated as an aberration or even something worth pointing out. The only real taboo shared by all the races is children, and any offence against them is usually met with fierce retribution.
Researchers of the origins of the Eldar are often surprised to discover that the species first emerged roughly 300 million years ago, as a small synapsid predator in the area that would later be northern Europe. The discovery itself is almost as stunning as the fact a clear lineage can be traced back to these creatures, but there are several preserved fossils in underground chambers.
Eldaraptors, as these first synapsids are often informally referred to, were nocturnal creatures that used caverns as a shelter during the day. They were roughly the size of a dog, with four limbs and a short tail used for steering and balance. The species displayed features found in both reptiles and mammals and hinted at the diversion that would follow in the years to come.
Hunting in groups of 10 to 20 individuals, they easily dominated the areas near bodies of water for thousands of years, keeping even larger solitary predators at bay. This pack mentality against outsiders was key to their success and would remain a trait of the species from that point on, offering some validity to the perceived Eldar arrogance.
With the face of the planet in constant change, the small predators soon had to adapt to various diverse environments as their hunting grounds expanded. It was not long before the, till then homogeneous, synapsids started to show signs of diversification, with two groups emerging. One seemed closer to mammals, while the other retained more reptilian characteristics.
The first group moved further into dry land, deep into the forests and mountains of Europe. There the group would split, one half would remain in Europe, while the rest would move south. The former displayed more canine characteristics, and would eventually evolve into the wild Cuerryn. The latter, more feline in form, would gradually shift into the Tekalad.
The second group remained near water for a few thousand years before getting stranded on an island near the landmass that would become Britain. With a limited source of food, some of the animals were driven underground, braving a network of tunnels that connected the island to the rest of the continent. Those left behind would eventually evolve into the Naraned.
With a good portion of this third group remaining underground, the rest continued farther till they reached the surface once more. The descendants of the ones that remained below would become the first Saegur, while those reaching the surface would continue their journey turning north, reaching the mountains and eventually becoming the first Ystaer.Civilisation
Millions of years passed and the five races thrived, but the land was changing. Their habitats became unable to support them separately, forcing the five groups to come together. The similarities between the tribes led to interbreeding, forming powerful alliances and enmities that would hold for years to come. By the time the humans first set foot on Europe, the eldar would be fully united.
While at first, they were tribal and fairly savage, the need for cooperation quickly set them on the path to a more civilised state. A catalyst for this change was the influence of the Inner Realms that had already started to affect the five races. The outward changes were still mostly cosmetic at that point, but the mentality of each race was already starting to change in subtle ways.
In the shared culture of the eldar, the five races served the role of castes. Each race played to its strengths, with Tekalad becoming their scouts and soldiers, Saegur their assassins and ambassadors, Cuerryn their hunters and shepherds, Naraned their fishermen and sailors, while Ystaer claimed the roles of leaders and advisers to those in power, regardless of race.
This type of society survived for centuries, helping the species dominate their territory and any invaders. Other species were kept as pets, slaves or second class citizens, but cross-breeding with some of the more attractive races was not unheard of. Eldar society of the time frowned upon such unions but viewed favourably those between the eldar races, when sanctioned.
When the first Attuned emerged, they were seen as cursed or evil, and many were killed or ostracised as a result. Survivors would later return to exact their revenge. Within a few short decades, most prominent members of eldar society were touched by the Inner Realms. Their abilities were not enough to spare them from the human uprising, and many eldar leaders fell during the years of the Cleansing.
Reaching Mithbar caused a profound change to the five races, as the Inner Realms were now able to affect them more directly. Each race diverged radically in a few generations and, within centuries, they had reached their most recent state in evolution. While it is easy to trace their common ancestor, only their eyes betray the details of their evolutionary path.
Fundamentally altered by the Inner Realms, the five races parted ways, each claiming a continent of the new world for themselves and their allies. There, they thrived and built five distinct cultures, vastly different from the one they once shared. Not all eldar kingdoms were successful, with results ranging from grand continent-spanning empires to a handful of hidden settlements.
The eldar would regroup one last time during the Sundering when their armies were called upon to help reclaim Earth. Leaving behind all they held dear, the five races carried with them all their knowledge and culture, fuelled by the promise of exploration and conquest. In the decades that followed, the eldar races rebuilt all they had lost and found their niche in the world.
Common Myths and Legends
Those eldar that do not follow the spiritual guidelines represented by the Inner Realms tend to have an animistic or pantheistic worldview. Belief in anything is not mandatory, and secular eldar are treated the same as those that follow one of the many spiritual paths. Eldar tend to be sceptical but do not discount the existence of gods as outright impossible, but as highly improbable.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
Eldar are apart from the other species even when in a crowd, though specifics vary by race. While not always xenophobic, they can be mildly detached at best and do not relate well with most others. Some argue they have a superiority complex, and there may be some truth to that claim. Each race has its own way of dealing with outsiders, and that is the only generalisation one can make about the Eldar.