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Posted 27 March 2020 - 03:45 AM
Is the "Exarch" concept (which includes the Phoenix Lords) limited solely to those that are lost on the Path of the Warrior? Lore already says that the Farseers are similar in that they are lost on the Witch Path. However, unlike their Warrior Path counterparts, the Farseers don't have a cycle of death and rebirth. Instead, their spiritstones are taken to the Dome of Crystal Seers so that their spirits can be linked to the infinity circuit forever as their physical bodies become psychocrystal statues. Is it possible for those that get lost on other paths to have some sort of special fate, whether a death/rebirth cycle such as the Exarchs, a transformation such as the Farseers, or some other fate?
Going further, is an Exarch-like fate possible to other (non-Asuryani) factions of the Aeldari? We know that the Drukhari and the Harlequins don't use spiritstones. The recent lore for Drazhar from the Psychic Awakening updates, as covered in this topic, leads some to believe that, despite his [apparent] lack of a spiritstone mechanism, Drazhar appears to have a death/rebirth cycle that offers something akin to the Exarch/Phoenix Lord "immortality." It's too soon to tell with the Ynnari, though it might be speculated that their treatment of death might indicate that they won't have Exarch-like counterparts. The Aeldari Corsairs appear to use spiritstones (many of the images have them, at least). The Exodites are known to use spiritstones. Neither of these Aeldari sub-factions has the rigid paths that the Asuryani follow, so the question shifts from a death/rebirth cycle focused around those that get lost upon a particular path to a death/rebirth cycle of particular entities via their spiritstones. Could the Aeldari Corsairs/Exodites potentially have Exarch-like entities (possibly even some comparable to the Asurya Phoenix Lords)? We've been focused on the "Phoenix Lords" that are the Asurya (and I'll include Karandras in this) precisely because those are the only Phoenix Lords that Games Workshop has identified; and the official lore referring to "Phoenix Lords" has always been about those warriors. What if there are other non-warrior Phoenix Lords (even if they're not called by that title)?
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Posted 27 March 2020 - 07:19 AM
I always thought that the paths are a cultural thing specific to Craftworlders to curb the obsessive tendencies of all Aeldari by obsessing on a single thing in a structured manner and then shifting that obsession from time to time to avoid losing themselves on that path. The other flavors of Aeldari deal with this obsessive tendency in different ways, here are my thoughts on them one by one.
The Exodites deal with it by living in a very primitive, survivalist lifestyle and thus they are not able to lose themselves to an obsession because the day-to-day demands of survival mean that they need to be adaptable to accommodate for whatever challenges come their way or they will end up dying out. For an Exodite to be able to lose themselves and to become an Exarch-like prisoner of a path would require for an Exodite to be in a situation where such an obsession could develop with no harm to the rest of the Exodites. I guess it would be possible in an Exodite community that has developed far enough from subsistence-level existence, but I would imagine that they would try to reject that, because their whole thing is living at that subsistence-level to maintain a more primitive and pure existence. Basically to my mind if an Exodite manages to lose himself in an obsession would require that the whole community have failed in what they are trying to do or for one of them to do it in secret, leading to exile upon discovery. What such an individual would be like would probably be pretty dependent on what their obsession is, since it probably wouldn't follow the somewhat rigid paths available to the Craftworlders.
Drukhari just ignore the whole problem by continuing to be obsessive (and horrible) people, but they are constantly dancing on a knife's edge by indulging in their bottomless appetites out of a 50/50 split of liking it and being terrified of what would happen to them if they wouldn't. I would imagine that some of them do lose themselves to their obsessions, but I don't know if their society permits one to just focus on one thing. You always need to be at least somewhat interested in subterfuge and plotting and revelry to stay alive, even if you are obsessed with becoming the perfect flayer.
Corsairs are probably somewhere between Exodites and Drukhari: they live a more limited existence and thus require adaptability while also living in a more dangerous environment both by participating in raids and by surviving in a cutthroat band of pirates.
Harlequins are an interesting puzzle, because I think a case can be made that they are all somewhat lost to their obsessions, theirs being dancing / Aeldari theatre, but I know too little of them beyond that to make heads or tails of them.
Writing these thoughts down made me realize that the Craftworlds are rather unique in enabling such obsessions because they are an advanced enough society that is also built on trust between individual Aeldari. A craftworlder can become obsessed with becoming the best sculptor and lose himself to that path and he will still live in a society that gives him food and shelter even though his statues might not be what the craftworld needs right now. As to whether there is an ur-sculptor phoenix lord-type that is The Sculptor, I don't really see why not? We will probably never see him/her in miniature form because that is not really all that interesting from a wargaming perspective, but that doesn't mean (s)he can't exist.
"Loyalty is it's own reward." -Lion El'Jonson
Posted 27 March 2020 - 12:40 PM
The ones I know about are inherently dangerous and so are extreme enough to result in getting lost
Path of the Warrior - Exarch - war being inherently dangerous
Path of the Seer - Farseer - using their psychic powers is one the most dangerous things an Eldar can do
Path of the Outcast - Pathfinders - Operating outside if the Path’s safety net.
Of course there are the ‘Bards of Twilight’ which I imagine come from the Path of the artisan, but I don’t know much about them
Posted 29 March 2020 - 11:14 PM
It depends what we mean by Exarch-equivalent. It seems the meaning sought in the initial post is whether there are other groups that have a death-rebirth cycle outside of Wraith constructs.
We know the Exodites have their own Infinity Circuit equivalent in the World Spirit, but they seem to lack an equivalent of Wraith constructs entirely, and seem to me to be philosophically opposed to having such constructs. I could see some sort of "noble" that wears a suit similar to what the Exarchs have, but that may be getting a bit too similar to Imperial Knights.
The Ynnari are interesting in that, in a sense, every one of them is a mini-Exarch, in that the teachings of their god allows each and every member to act as an infinity circuit, taking the souls of the dead within themselves, but unlike the Drukhari who seem to consume them in some way (although the fluff is unclear over whether the Drukhari do actually consume the souls, when most depictions involving the actual absorption describe only feeding on pain), in the case of the Ynnari the absorbed soul stays self-contained, existing inside the "host body", and with communication possible. While we haven't seen the Ynnari developed enough to allow for an actual "rebirth" like the Phoenix Lords, they seem to basically create Exarchs without the need of a suit or soul-stone, each time they take in another soul.
The Drukhari we already know are capable of resurrection, as well as growing multiple bodies operating with a shared soul. I doubt there's many concepts involving what can be done to a soul that one Archon/Haemonculi or another hasn't perfected in one way or another. "Bodies containing multiple souls? Why, can I interest you, my generous Archon, in my newest strain of Grotesque? Instead of one body grown to extreme proportions, I obtained multiple 'donors', rendered their bodies down to their base elements, and used that to fleshsculpt the specimen of perfection that stands before you. Each soul was bonded to their constituent parts, so if you examine closely you can feel each individual soul calling for release from within, but due to the careful balancing during creation, no one soul has dominance, leaving each unable to control the body, forced to witness the slaughter they carry out. If it pleases you, Archon, I can have another score created by the end of the cycle..."
The Corsairs are weird in that they don't particularly seem to be their own thing, but rather a hybridisation/mixing of various other philosophies. In particular, we know that some Corsairs who are regarded as just being Craftworlders on the Path of the Outcast, who are separate now but may one day return to the fold. These seem to be the ones who retain their spirit stones, as they aren't rebelling against the Craftworld philosophy/thanotology, but the restrictiveness of the rest of Craftworld culture, and may go back someday. The more extreme ones either keep their spirit stone but never return, or discard it and eventually gravitate to the Drukhari in order to maintain what remains of their soul. As such, the Corsairs as a social group are really just either Craftworlders playing pirate to ease their ennui, or Drukhari that just haven't admitted what they are yet.
An interesting idea for the Bards of Twilight, though. We know a Haemonculi managed to transform himself into light itself, and given the Bards are, well, what the name suggests, what if in becoming a Bard of Twilight you become a memetic construct, leaving your physical body behind? As the Exarchs become the embodiment of their fighting style, the Bards become the poem or song. That song that's been stuck in your head all week? "Darn it, Bard Steve, get out of my head, that's the last time I'll tell you!"
"And then Horus landed on the Moon, which looked like the moon. Funny that, isn't it?"
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