Monday, 18 November 2019

Craftworld Iyanden 20 // Aspect Warriors - Dark Reaper Shrine

Welcome back Aeldari travelers. The call of Khaine and Ynnead is growing stronger throughout the webway and more Aeldari wear the masks of war. Today I am going into the fluff and lore of Dark Reapers. Hands up this detail is all over the codex and the web, so if you are long time Eldar fan you don't really need to read this. This is being written purely for my own hobbying pleasure. The first part will be known lore, the second part will be Shrine Names that will become links once I build and paint a unit to match the entry. Then this whole section will be linked to the Eldar Encyclopedia for future path walkers to find one day. Let's dive in.

The Dark Reapers

The Dark Reapers are the most menacing of the Aeldari Aspect Warriors. They exemplify the Aeldari War God Kaela Mensha Khaine in his aspect as the Destroyer, and their skull-masked costume echoes that of their founder and Phoenix Lord, the "Harvester of Souls," Maugan Ra. They specialise in the use of highly-destructive, long-range heavy weaponry.

When Asurmen taught his brethren the arts of war it was Maugan Ra that fell furthest from the fold. He fashioned baroque weapons of occult nature; not the blades of his brethren but dark and malefic artifact that could slay his foes from afar.

As his craft progressed, Maugan Ra learnt that even the mightiest weapon could be wielded with surgical precision. This led to the creation of the deadly Maugetar, the Harvester, and later to the disciplines of the Dark Reaper aspect itself.

The origins of the Aeldari Aspect can be traced to Craftworld Altansar and the Fall of the Aeldari, following the birth of the Chaos God, Slaanesh. Altansar rode out the psychic shock-waves that destroyed the Aeldari realms but was subsequently caught in the gravity well of the Eye of Terror. Although the Aeldari of Altansar fought valiantly against the encroachment of Chaos, they were unable to escape their inevitable doom, and within 500 Terran years of the Fall their Craftworld was swallowed by the Warp.

Nothing remained of Altansar except for Maugan Ra, the mightiest Exarch of Altansar's Shrine of the Dark Reapers. The Dark Reapers represent the War God Khaine in his role as the Destroyer. They are perhaps the most sinister and lethal of all the Aspect Warriors and their dark armour is adorned with symbols of death and destruction.

The Dark Reapers' Aspect Armour is the colour of midnight, and incorporates a complex set of interlocking plates. Although the Dark Reapers are comparatively slow-moving compared to other Aeldari warriors as a result of their heavy armour, this is of little consequence, for their role on the battlefield is to serve as long-ranged heavy weapons fire support for the more mobile Aeldari units. The Phoenix Lord of the Dark Reapers, Maugan Ra, teaches that the kiss of death can be delivered from afar. It is this credo that is central to the way of the Reaper.

Their sacred weapon is the Reaper Launcher, a long-barrelled missile weapon that can create a blistering firestorm of small missiles with a single salvo. The small armour-piercing missiles the Reaper Launcher fires are powerful enough to take down all but the most heavily protected of foes.

The Dark Reapers pride themselves on their accuracy. To absorb the recoil of firing the Launcher and maintain a steady firing position, the powered limb supports include lower leg armour and boots fitted with stabilizers and clamps to secure the Dark Reaper to the ground. Their helmet incorporates specialized range finding sensor vanes which extends out of the helmet of their Aspect Armour and allows a Dark Reaper to achieve target lock on even fast-moving vehicles.

This also creates a mind-link with the Dark Reaper's weapon, allowing them to "see" out of the muzzle of the launcher. The resulting increase in their already deadly accuracy means it is almost impossible for a Dark Reaper to miss his target. Their superb aim enables them to dominate the battlefield, pinning down enemy forces and destroying their chosen targets at will.

The downside to all of their extra equipment, along with the weight of their heavy weapon, is that Dark Reapers are slower and less mobile compared to other Aspect Warriors. However, as their primary tactical role is to provide long-range fire support, this is not seen as significantly detracting from the Aspect's combat effectiveness.

Exarch

Operating in squads of three to five Dark Reapers, one of which may be an Exarch, these units are usually positioned in cover behind the main Aeldari battle line, where they can best support the advance of friendly troops and target the enemy's heavy assets. For added mobility the squad can also be mounted in a Wave Serpent transport.

Every Aspect Shrine of the Aeldari is led by an Exarch, an Aeldari who has been called permanently to the Path of the Warrior. An Exarch has traveled so far down the Path of the Warrior that he or she can no longer leave it and so dedicates him or herself fully as a high priest of Khaine in service to the Aspect of the War God that he or she represents.

Exarchs wear more elaborate and ornate versions of Aspect Armour which incorporates the spirits of their past wearers, granting an Exarch not only wisdom and knowledge stretching across the millennia but a raw pool of potent psychic energy that can be used in combat.

This permanent acceptance of the Aeldari's "war mask" provides Exarchs with enhanced skill and dedication to their craft and entitles them to access their Shrine's oldest and most advanced wargear. As a result, an Exarch of the Dark Reapers wears a more formidable form of Dark Reaper Aspect Armour and instead of a Reaper Launcher, can wield a number of different special weapons, including an Aeldari Missile Launcher, a Tempest Launcher and a Shuriken Cannon.

The skills and wargear of a Dark Reaper Exarch exemplify the already deadly firepower and accuracy that defines their Aspect. A Dark Reaper Exarch's inhuman combat abilities surpass even the talents of regular Dark Reapers, as a Dark Reaper Exarch is perfectly capable of laying down a lethal hail of fire more rapidly without loss of accuracy from any weapon they wield, and of landing pinpoint shots so accurate they can bypass cover and hit targets who thought themselves fully protected.

Notable Dark Reapers Shrines

Shrine of the Broken Storm
Shrine of The Crystal Grave
Shrine of The Forsaken Obelisk
Shrine of The Jade Scythe
Shrine of The Last Midnight
Shrine of The Three Deaths


Sources
Codex: Eldar (7th Edition), pp. 108-110
Codex: Eldar (6th Edition), pg. 36
Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pp. 34, 66
Codex: Eldar (3rd Edition), pg. 16
Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition), pg. 10
White Dwarf 172 (US), "The Eldar: The Path of the Warrior - Dark Reapers", pp. 5-16
White Dwarf 138 (US), "Alaitoc Craftworld Eldar Army - Dark Reaper Exarch", pp. 20-29
White Dwarf 127 (US), "Eldar" by Rick Priestley, Jes Goodwin, William King & Lindsey D. Le Doux Paton, pp. 13-52
Games Workshop Online Store - Eldar Dark Reapers

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***Please note this was written before the big release reveals on May 23rd, which is so cool I really enjoy seeing a new edition and how the...