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XEN28 - Testing out the idea
Topic Started: 12 Apr 2017, 11:22 AM (13,719 Views)
Ynneadwraith
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Hey from a newbie to the forum!

Like tons of other people, I absolutely adore the theme, scale, style and general atmosphere of INQ28. However, one thing I've noticed is that it feels very humancentric. Xenos are represented, but primarily as oddities attached to the retinues of radical Inquisitors. A lot of people have applied the gritty, gothic, grimdark aesthetic of INQ28 to their own xenos armies, but I haven't yet seen anything dedicated to the idea. What we need is a snappy buzzword in the mold of the excellent AoS28 movement ;)

So, I came up with the idea of 'XEN28' (the principles and atmosphere of INQ28, as applied to xenos cultures) and thought I'd test the waters here and see what people thought :)

First off I've got a couple of choice conversions cherry-picked from my exodite army to form a warband :)

A bit of background to the the exodites of Selesti. As a lover of creepy grimdark stuff as well as Eldar, I was always felt the whole 'amish space elves' thing was missing a trick. So, I thought I'd try and re-cast exodites into something a bit more fitting. Thinking about the Eldar's history, their situation is very similar to the Imperium's. Previously held a glorious empire, but 10,000 years ago experienced a catastrophic event and have been clinging onto a downward spiral ever since. In the years immediately following the Fall, I'd expect there to be a similar (or perhaps even greater) period of turmoil to the Age of Strife. You'd expect a similar level of cultural regression.

What would that cultural regression look like for a bunch of technologically capable but fanatical-minded aliens isolated on a primal world on the fringes of the galaxy?

Eldar Technobarbarians is what you'd expect :) so that's what I've aimed for :) I'll post up some key models from my exodite hunting party with some fluff background to flesh them out a little (as well as some other neat ideas I've had when I've got models for them). I hope you like them!
Selesti
It was high priests of the temple of Isha that originally called for the exodus of Eldar to the maiden world of Selesti. Their new worlds were built in her honour, and all life upon them flourished.

However, the healthy splendour of these worlds was too much for Papa Nurgle to resist, and the Plaguefather unleashed one of his many gifts upon this world. Only by excising the infected tissue and replacing it with wraithbone could the Selestini hold back the inevitable decay of their world.

Their salvation came in the dreams of their seers. Isha, held captive by Nurgle, had heard her children's plight. She whispered the cure to her daughters, and saved their kingdoms. However, the cultural scars of this event are still evident among the Selestini. To this day, any impurity or imperfection in their bodies is replaced with wraithbone, and great forests of petrified trees lie on barren soil. The gifts of the Lord of Decay are generous in their destruction.


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Thaegr, Huntfather, Flutterkin, Son of Kurnous

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The Catachan platoon hacked its way through the undergrowth, monomolecular machetes carving effortlessly through bough and branch, silently progressing forwards in environs they found most familiar. Death world they called it. Hah! Had they never been to Catachan? Transport a Catachan Devil here and it would clean up the local wildlife in a week!

Even still, the platoon was on guard. One of the Cadian patrols had come this way and were never heard from again. The weapons expert hovered his finger over the hair-trigger on his heavy bolter, and troopers scanned the trees down the barrels of their lasguns. Suddenly, the sarge froze, raising his hand to halt the platoon, his finely honed death-world instincts telling him that something wasn't right.

Suddenly, swarms of chittering insects burst from the trees, engulfing them in a thick fog of tiny wings and bodies. Lasgun shots rang out, but the sarge bellowed that it was no point wasting charges on insects when a flamer would clear them in seconds. It was at that point that an intense burst of heat exploded the tanks on the back of the flamer. The lasgun fire began in earnest, troopers diligently double-tapping their triggers to eke out every shot possible. However, individually cut off and enveloped by the swarm there was no way to tell which direction they were firing. Muffled grunts rang out as errant shots found the wrong mark.

The methodical thudding of the heavy bolter cleared great swathes of the bugs, its rounds set to detonate after a set distance of travel. It was only when the wretched insects clogged the feed mechanism that the weapons expert saw what their true assailant was. The swarm parted just enough for him to see a great, horned xenos warrior bury its crackling power axe into his sarge's shoulder before the cloud of insects closed in again.

Thaegr sat on a bough, washing the blood from his axe in a babbling stream. Around him, a multitude of buzzing invertebrates were picking the last morsels of flesh from the skeletons of the Mon-Keigh interlopers. 'Death world' they call it, he mused. They don't know the meaning of the word.
Edited by Ynneadwraith, 12 Apr 2017, 11:46 PM.
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Garrot
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Very interesting concept, looking forward to seeing more of this. Keep it up!
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Ynneadwraith
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Thanks man! I've got quite a few more that I can show pretty quickly, but some of my ideas for other xenos will need modelling :)

Here's another for now!

The War Wyrds of the Cult of Morai-Heg perform the function of both Warlocks and Bonesingers of the exodites. Being masters of melding living tissue with wraithbone, they directly fuse their ghosthelms to their head, providing permanent protection from the winds of the warp.

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Syaeldren, Threadcutter, Strifeweaver, Daughter of Morai-Heg
The brutish Mon-Keigh gene-warrior bellowed a challenge over the din of the battle. The servos of its primitive armour whirred into action as it strode towards the slender eldar witch, activating its crackling power sword. Syaeldren stood motionless, spear in hand, eyes fixed on the astartes. With a single psychic whisper she planted a seed in its mind. A seed that spoke 'wither'.

She watched as it put down its roots in his medulla oblongata, and its tendrils reached up towards his primary motor cortex, trailing inert matter behind it. Strong though the indoctrination of this brute was, she could see it begin to fail. Its sword-arm, held aloft, began to sag. Its mighty stride grew shorter with each footfall. A few feet from Syaeldren the iron warrior stumbled, its legs giving way beneath it. The wraithbone-skinned crone circled the fallen warrior as the psychic root-ball strangled the last few impulses that governed its heartbeats.

This mind war was won, but the battle around raged on. Hefting her spear, she stalked off to seek her next quarry.
Edited by Ynneadwraith, 12 Apr 2017, 11:46 PM.
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Void Spinner
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Interesting! The new wood elf kits lend themselves to this kind of wraithbone exodite theme!
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Bronislaw Czevak
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This is a really cool idea, probably a logical direction at the same time. I may have to rummage through what I have and see if I can come up with some gribbly xenos 👍🏻
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euansmith
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This is some neat work.
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Soulblight
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Interesting idea..
hmm..
could work that into some of my own fluff..
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Ynneadwraith
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Thanks guys! I'm glad you like them :)

I'd be happy for people to post their own xenos stuff on this thread too :) sort of like a sounding board type thing to see how well the idea goes down :)

Can't wait to see what people come up with :)

Next creation :)

All Eldar, by dint of their heightened experience of the world, are vulnerable to the harrowing effects of warfare. The warriors of each eldar culture must deal with this each time they descend into battle. Through meditative training and psychological dissociation, the Craftworlders construct a 'War Mask' that can be donned and shed at will. The Commorites revel in the slaughter, and need no protection. The Exodites, through wild rituals and psychotropic drugs descend into an animalistic state, embodying the feral predators that stalk their worlds. Their battles aren't fought like the careful orchestras of tacticians, or the grinding stalemates of attrition. Theirs is a feral fury, and a cunning borne of intelligent minds put to predatory purposes.

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Myrdolaith, Hawk-Friend, Stormbringer, Daughter of Faolchu
The great hawk pierced the vale between the webway and soared out over alien skies. She felt the rush of thermals rising from the industry below beating at her feathers, and watched from on high as the humans scurried about their business far below. Vermin, she thought, infesting their ancient lands.

She perched on an outcrop, wraithbone talons finding tenuous purchase on the mountainous rock, and stared down intently at the settlement below. She spied the bright heraldic trim of the Knight World the vermin called Salazar's Rest. Their warriors were on guard at this early stage of colonisation, and clustered around a hulking mechanical creature belching vast exhaust plumes into the atmosphere.

They would take a great deal of effort to dislodge from this world. She would have to return with many warhawks to drive them back. For now, she would have to content herself with picking off a straggler to bring back to her clan as evidence of the trespass. Selecting a suitable quarry, she let out a keening cry and plummeted from her outcrop, eyes fixed on her unwitting prey.


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Ynneadwraith
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One of the things that feels very 40k is creepy bionic enhancements, and generally replacing limbs and body parts with something else. The Imperium tends to lean towards mechanical enhancements, while chaotic factions prefer gribbly biological mutations.

For my exodites, that theme is carried through with skeletal wraithbone structures (as you can see on the others!), and it's something i really want to take further :)

After a fair amount of false starts i came up with this dude :)

Sardroath, Beastborn, Sunstalker, Son of Kurnous
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The exodite worlds of Selesti are populated by many clans and tribes, all under the gaze of Raodruin the High Lord of Selesti. Many tribes perished when Nurgle reigned over their lands, and those that survived were changed irreparably. Each were afflicted with differing conditions as the whims of the Plaguefather manifested over their lands, and each of these afflictions has had a marked effect on their culture.

The Selestini of the Godwoods were protected from direct manifestation by the gnarled boughs of naturally occurring wraithbone that populate their forest. However, they were continually assaulted by legions of plaguebearers, and launched ambushes from their protected glades in response. Their warriors have long learnt the value of stealth and infiltration, as well as the protective power of the adherants of the Cult of Morai Heg.

The Selestini of the Sandspires fled upwards into the mountainous spires of sandstone that riddle their lands. The Blightlord sent his Plague Drones to harvest them, to which they responded with great flocks of feathered warriors to meet them in aerial combat. Over the years, reverence of these ancient aerial combatants has become more and more ingrained into the Sandspires culture. Avian modifications are widespread in the warriors of the Sandspires.

The Selestini of the Dreaming Wastes felt the fertile plains of their lands turn to corrosive acid beneath their very feet. Those who survived were forced to replace their legs with durable wraithbone in order to wade through the acidic swamps to take the battle to the enemy. Over time, these modifications became more and more extreme as they diverged from standard Eldar physiology. In the present day, warriors of the Dreaming Wastes ritually replace their lower limbs with great 4-legged constructs that afford them phenomenal speed and toughness.


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euansmith
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These dudes are certainly dramatic.
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Ryltar Thamior
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Now THIS is really cool! I've long had an interest in the lesser-travelled parts of Eldar mythology , and was considering doing something vaaageuly similar for our own InquisiNecronMunda campaign. So it's absoliutely excellent to see somebody put in serious work of both concept and execution to really 'bring to life' a much-less touched upon part of the "Eldar" spectrum :D

Full marks, and keep 'em coming!
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Ynneadwraith
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Thanks guys! I'm really glad you like them :)

I'm also really interested in the less often viewed/creepier aspects of Eldar society. It's a place that's every bit as varied as the Imperium, but we only tend to see the flagship Craftworlds and Kabals from GW. It's like taking a picture of the Imperium from the perspective of Space Marine chapters. There's so much more to explore :)

A couple of things I'm working on at the moment (which will go up here soon!) are two slightly more cohesive smaller-scale Eldar warbands (seeing as the Exodites are a little more world-buildy and grand to truly fit the INQ28 theme). The first is a Ynnari warband, but taking them more down the 'prophet clad in rags' religious fanatic thing. The second is a Wych Cult that's used as a sort of test-bed/advertising platform for the services of a Haemonculus :)

Speaking of world-building, here's the guy that started it all (in-universe). I'm also really interested in shedding a little spotlight on some aspects of pre-Fall Eldar culture, and possibly hinting that the history of the Eldar might have been just as convoluted as humanity's.

Uneven footsteps echoed out through the ruined and creeper-riddled hall. A clank of armour, and a far heavier thud of a wraithbone replacement, slightly too long to produce an even gait. The ancient High Lord of Selesti stalked through his domain. "I am Lord of this place you tread", he spoke with an authority born of millennia of rulership, his iron voice echoing through the chasms. "Lord since before your kind rose from the depths, and Lord long after they will be consigned to dust."

"Tremble before me, worm-kin. I have watched your upstart Gods rise, and I will watch as they fall. Meet me here, plaguebringer. Meet me here and test your resolve. Your Gods are watching. Do not disappoint."


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Raodruin, Godborn, Allfather, Son of Asuryan. High Lord of Selesti. Ancient almost beyond comprehension, the High Lord of Selesti still remembers the great exodus and the Fall of his empire in the depths of his rheumy memories. Prior to the Fall, he was a member of an ancient, secretive and reviled sect of Eldar culture. Called Carrac Noill (lit. Soul Drinkers), these ancient beings practiced what amounts to vampirism. Murderously, they would prise the soul from another Eldar and encorporate it into their own. Through this, they would achieve a continuity of existence that even reincarnation could not promise. Clouded memories of the legends of his forebears told of how they were some of the earliest rulers of the ancient eldar, not long after Eldanesh himself, and how they were hunted and persecuted after their fall from grace. Whether this was truthful, or merely hubristic justification of their crimes was lost to the hazyness of countless millennia. Still, the vast experience accumulated through his unnaturally extended lifespan had seen his people through the great exodus, and the many trials they had endured in the years since the Fall. Surely that was atonement enough for his crimes. He was growing weary of life, he could feel it. Each night, the susserus of lost souls would get bolder. Each fresh hunt would sustain him that little less. Still, he thought, he must go on. Without his guidance Selesti would surely fall, and its people be swallowed whole by the aether. This is something he would never let come to pass. No matter the cost.

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The whoel thing is sort of inspired by one of my favourite little pictures in one of the old Eldar codices.

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There's so much information hinted at here in such a small little picture. The bit that set me thinking was the little rune down at the bottom right. Soul Drinker: Also scavengers, looters, parasites, vermin, dying, diabolical, daemonic and decaying. One of the most hideous rune-concepts in the Eldar language. It's connected to the Dark Eldar rune next to it, but not the same. It's also distinct (although similar) to the rune for Slaanesh.

I've always thought that having the 'Eldar Empire' as this unchanging monolithic structure existing for millions of years was unrealistic. Much more likely that there have been many, many different forms of Eldar civilisation throughout the millennia, much like humanity has gone through the DAoT, Age of Strife, the Great Crusade, and the final slow inexorable slide into ruin that's occurring in the year 40k. All of that history will have either been consigned to myth, or lost to the sands of time. Plus, this being the grimdark universe of 40k at least some of those forms of civilisation are going to be pretty nasty.

So, I came up with the idea that the concept of a 'Soul Drinker' pre-dated both Slaanesh and the Dark Eldar, and that it refers to one of these previous forms of Eldar civilisation, consigned to vague myth. Plus, it being a pretty revolting rune-concept, it probably refers to something that's both a bit nasty and importantly defeated. History is written by the victors, after all.

Drawing a bit on Fantasy Vampire Counts, I thought of the idea that these proto-soul drinkers first discovered that they could ingest another creature's soul just like the Dark Eldar do now, and used this newfound ability to rise to power over the early Eldar civilisation (possibly in the power vacuum caused by the death of Inriam the Young, last of the line of Eldanesh). However, they would have had to be deposed (probably violently) a long time before the Empire came about for their story to be forgotten in all but a single, reviled, rune-concept.

Thinking of what happens to entrenched regimes that get violently deposed, the survivors scatter to the winds and go into hiding. So, we get to the point where these 'soul drinkers' are a secretive subsect of Eldar society who are hunted by the rest of their culture, again drawing on the 'vampires and vampire hunters' trope. Raodruin is one of the descendants of this culture.

However, because 40k thrives on grey-areas, you can't have these kin-slaying murderous vampires be pure evil. The utter destruction of their civilisation would have effected them just as much as the Eldar that hunted them (if any believed they still existed outside of myth at that point). Most, I'd imagine, would be well entrenched in the debauchery that gripped the Empire. Some would likely find a home with the Dark Eldar (although I imagine that in a twist of fate, most of those would have come to a sticky end at the hands of the Haemonculi while they discovered the secrets of their soul-drinking abilities). Others I'd imagine would have the same foresight that others of their kind had, and deduce that if their civilisation died then they would die with it.

Raodruin is one of that latter group, and led the Selestini to their new home. In protecting his people he has found new purpose beyond simply self-preservation. However, this new conscience he has developed racks him with guilt, as in order to maintain the strength to protect his people he needs to hunt them down and consume their souls.

Apologies for the wall of text, but thought you might like to read some of the backstory :)
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Alan
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Well... This is really great concept (and execution definitely) and brings to the first plan an interesting view on a well established concept of Space elves.
History of the Eldar is tragic one and a lot more depressing then a human descent into oblivion. We are always shown "bright", strictly speaking good guys but we never see those angry and hateful parts of once mighty civilization.
There were for sure parts of Eldar society that despised whole pre-fall Eldars who succumbed to hedonism, nepotism and decadency. Terrified part who saw birth of a God because of acts committed by their so called kinsmen.
For sure after all those millennia descendants of that "radical" part of Eldar are not so into idea of bringing Eldar empire back.
Overall great job and keep us updated regulary :D
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childsouldier

Wow, this is a fantastic start to a blog, Sardroath is particularly cool. Looking forward to seeing messed up fleshcrafted Wyches too!
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Soulblight
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I really love the amount of thoughts you put into this!
Great work!
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Ynneadwraith
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Thanks a ton guys!

I love the idea of exploring some of the more bitter and hateful aspects of the Eldar : ) not that the Craftworlders (or Commorrites for that matter) are particularly friendly, barring some of the more ropey-quality newer fluff.

Speaking of ropey new fluff, I'm actually really excited about the whole Ynnari development. Less because I think it was handled in keeping with my vision of the 40k universe (Templars working with Eldar? Come on...), but more because of the raw potential in the phrase 'Eldar Death Cult'.

It's something that I've only just started on really, but I had the idea that these slightly mad Eldar prophets would scatter through the webway bringing their radical new religion to other Eldar populations. As radical religions in real life tend to target the vulnerable and downtrodden, it would also give me an opportunity to explore the fact that even though Eldar society is by and large better than life in the Imperium, it's still frighteningly easy to fall through the net.

Deep in the bowels of Commorragh, a metallic clatter echoed through the depths as one of Rakarth's servile units dropped its workload. Searing white light burned through its neurons as its life flashed before its eyes. Birth and early years on Craftworld Angvellaith, railing against its oppressive atmosphere. Tears of his mother as he left to follow the Outcast Path. First firefight aboard the Corsair Corvette The Shadow Lingers in Twilight. The terrible debt he accrued with the twisted haemonculi. The subtle psychological conditioning worming into his mind as he sold himself to servitude. Dullness of sensation as he carried out his masters wishes decade after decade. Death and resurrection, over and over.

It all burned in blinding clarity as memories reasserted themselves. Feeling flowed through his aching limbs. Psychic potential blossomed in his cerebelli. One face filled his newfound vision: Yvraine. He knew he had felt the kiss of death and the rush of resurrection many times before. However...this time...he was reborn.


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Khalfhirin (lit. Herald of Truth), Prophet of Ynnead

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An account of the final days of the Crone Cycle, as written by Farseer Bellatheral of the Angvai - Part 2
It was the 7th day of the Serpent subcycle when they came. Draped in rags and sporting the blank face of the dead, the prophets of the Dead God filtered through the webway portal. Miracles, they brought with them. Those gifted among them they called 'reborn' walked among the Ghost Halls. Amidst a gathering crowd, they placed a hand upon the psychoplastic bulk of a Wraith before them. The touch of the revenant's palm caused a startling change in the Wraith's demenour. Suddenly it appeared to take a juddering, desperate breath. As if it had just surfaced from icy waters. Where its fellows moved languidly through the arches and boughs of the ghost hall, this awakened Wraith stared intensely at its hands, digits moving as it tested its perception. As the revenant passed on by, the onlookers saw the awareness ebb away. The movements of its fingers that had not seconds ago appeared fundamentally alive slowed as its arms dropped listlessly to its sides. Whatsmore, the eldar could feel the change. The bright spark that had flared into light at the touch of the prophet was fading to a whispering flicker oncemore.

The seers were cautious of these pilgrims. Manifold are the strands of fate, and only a very few offer any form of salvation. Through the windswept paths of the future they cast their gaze, alien intellects interpreting the actions of a thousand chess pieces on a board that extends for centuries. Methodically, they altered variables and watched them ripple through the weave of fate. Much change this new development had wrought. It would take decades to chart these new seas. Decades, as many paths suggested, the Eldar might not have.
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Ynneadwraith
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Just added a new dude to my Ynnari :)

In his house of wraithbone, Dead Ynnead waits dreaming - Khalfhirin, Prophet of Ynnead

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Idravain thought back on the muddled centuries of his life. Way back when he was first alive, he recalled having been born amidst the terrible 500-year descent as Altansar was inexorably pulled into the depths of the Eye. His early life was a desperate and futile struggle against the colossal psychic gravity well was dragging them under. Mere moments after they were submerged, the assault began. Valiantly they fought, but the craftworld was swiftly reduced to lifelessness. Idravain had died there, among his kin. Aimlessly, the hulk drifted through that warped and twisted realm, and for millennia nothing stirred on the dead craftworld.

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With bleary eyes, Idravain had woken. Unsteadily, he had pulled himself to his feet. Many of his kin had already risen. Approaching them he finally saw the horror of their visages. They may have been walking confused as living Eldar would, but they looked like revenants. Their mortal wounds had been restitched, but incompletely. Limbs were functional, but bones exposed themselves through torn flesh and pallid skin. It was only through the dreaming of their seers that they discovered what had occurred.

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The nascent God of Death had cast a thinning veil over the craftworld, resurrecting its fallen people. However, as yet unborn her powers were incomplete. The Altansari were resurrected in soul, but not in body. In this risen state, they cowered behind the veil for centuries, or perhaps millennia, it was hard to tell. Time ebbs and flows like tides in the warp. They cowered there until their salvation came. Maugan Ra, son of Altansar, struck deep into the Eye and found his people. Blazing with soulfire, he led them back to the materium.

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Until the birth of Ynnead, Idravain had cowered still. Like the rest of his kin, he feared greatly how the still-living Eldar would react to their condition. Now though, he wore his condition as a mark of pride. Many times he had fallen as he fought for Yvraine. Each time he had risen again. Each time a little less living. He saw these defects as a blessing from Ynnead, a clear sign of her favour. He bore them with honour, for all to see. He was chosen by Ynnead, and would fight until his purpose, whatever that might be, was complete.

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The Eldar are a people for whom symbolism is not merely important, but an inescapable fact of life. Yvraine, first of her kind, Emissary of Ynnead, was accompanied on her quest at every step by the mighty Visarch. As the Ynnari set out to spread their faith among the stars, many cells found themselves gravitating to a similar model of prophet and guardian.

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A bit of background to this guy for those not up on the Eldar fluff. Altansar is a craftworld that just managed to escape the Eye when it burst open. However, they were caught in its pull and slowly dragged under and presumed lost. During the 13th Black Crusade, the Phoenix Lord Maugan Ra ventured deep into the Eye searching for his lost craftworld...and found them! He led them out of the Eye, but not all was as it seemed. In the materium, they refused to remove their helmets for unknown reasons, and were viewed with great suspicion by the rest of the Eldar. It was recently revealed in the new Gathering Storm books that it was Ynnead who had protected the Altansari while in the Eye, and the reason they refused to remove their helmets is that they looked like exquisitely preserved corpses which is one of the most spine-tingling little drops of information in the books.

So this is my take on that :)
Edited by Ynneadwraith, 6 Jun 2017, 12:28 PM.
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euansmith
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That helmet on Khalfhirin, combined with his unfussy paint job, make for a very compelling mini.
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Ynneadwraith
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Thanks! I've got a bit of a theory that while humans picture a skull when you say 'what does the face of death look like', Eldar see a blank face instead. Its a running motif of Wraith units and those related to them like Spiritseers, and you could see the Dark Eldar units with blank faces (Reavers, Wyches etc.) as basically wearing the Eldar version of a skull mask :)

Plus, they're just awesome helmets anyway :)
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Ynneadwraith
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Now, this is something I made a little while ago, but I must admit I'm so d*mn proud that I can't help but share it here :) even if a thinking fragment of a dreaming God doesn't quite fit into the scale of INQ28 so well...

Ynnead was, Ynnead is, and Ynnead shall be. Not in the tides of the warp as we know it, but inbetween. She walks serene and primal. Unseen no longer. - Khalfhirin, Prophet of Ynnead

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[IMG]https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--PnU7MIi5--/c_scale,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/mzfsbefptbuyupx5reis.jpg[/IMG
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This pic sort of gets across what I was aiming for with the paint scheme. Like a ghostly apparition:

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And a little mood shot :)

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She also helped me get an idea for some of the little themes I wanted repeated through my Ynnari cult. Things like washed-out low contrast paint schemes, deep glossy reds for anything internal that's exposed, and half-skulls and blank face-masks :)

What do you think?
Edited by Ynneadwraith, 22 Apr 2017, 11:46 PM.
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