With my recent acquisition of some very cheap Eldar models, I've been giving some thought to the Eldar as imagined by Games Workshop and how they can be made a little less gloomy!
Here's an example of one of the first pieces of artwork I can think of for the Eldar. Is from the original Rogue Trader book but presented here in glorious full colour and features some frankly funky looking aliens with pointy helmets shooting at some unknown enemy set against the backdrop of some gigantic alien space station or ship.
It's a really evocative piece and the supporting background for the Eldar at the time had them as alien pirates, prone to raiding human worlds and ships. Even in The Book of the Astronomicon, they are firmly a force of jaunty space pirates with nifty gear and lots of high tech weaponry as can be seen here:
It is only later with the articles in White Dwarf and into 2nd edition of 40k that they become a doomed race, driven to the verge of extinction by their own folly. At this point I must admit I went off the Eldar as it was all a bit too depressing to read about their constant wailing and gnashing of teeth about all they had lost and blah, blah, blah.
Ironically the Eldar have a really beautiful visual aesthetic to their design managing to appear graceful yet menacing and their brightly coloured armour somewhat sits at odds with such a frankly miserable background.
Force wise, the Eldar has a really fascinating combination of models and unit types which brings me to my current rant! Can I re-imagine them into a more upbeat version of Rogue Trader?
For example, is it possible that the Eldar have vanished from the galaxy for untold centuries following a great and terrible war fought with the Empire only to return in greater force from the Webway? None of this dying race malarkey, I see them as a vibrant and forceful culture bent on taking back their lost homeworlds and their society should be more exuberant. Imagine them like the Fae courts of myth, an immortal race, who's objectives and motivations are Machiavellian and totally inhuman.
Likewise the aspect warriors could become warrior houses, like the Red Branch of Celtic myth, trained to perform amazing feats in combat and making the most of their technological prowess too.
I must admit I suspect I'm going to go for this approach as I'm drawn to a more upbeat setting and its rather in keeping with my Budgethammer pledge. I am going to fish out my copy of No Limits as its a really good ruleset and allows for all manner of interesting force creation and see if I can't develop some interesting units too and somewhat heretically, I am also eying up some of the Privateer Press Elves for some proxies:
Hopefully this will get me motivated into completing my background setting to base my games around too which is a real plus! I, must admit that I'm finding myself drawn to making it a bit more like Starwars with a somewhat evil empire ruling the galaxy and a rebellion starting up against the tyranny of the Emperor...
Imagine if the Emperor wasn't some crusty husk hard wired into a throne but a living, breathing villain, like the Emperor Palpetine from Star Wars or even better a homicidal maniac like Empress Lionstone from the Deathstalker books!
How much more fun would it be for the Spacemarines to be genetically engineered killing machines indoctrinated to serving the empire and the lowly imperial guard being the rebel scum?
Needless to say this is probably going to be taking me some time to sort out but its keeping me entertained and will hopefully inspire me to strip and paint the Eldar collection I've got ASAP!
All the best!