The Exodites are members of the Aeldari race that rejected the slow degeneration of their ancient civilisation before the Fall of the Eldar, exiling themselves from the core homeworlds of their star-spanning empire to newly-terraformed colony planets called Maiden Worlds. Upon their new homes, these so-called "Exodites" could isolate themselves from the Eldar's brewing corruption and hedonism -- and survive the cataclysm that would soon consume their people.
The Exodites are those who, a millennium before the Fall of the Eldar, predicted the coming of the Great Enemy, She Who Thirsts, Slaanesh, born of the growing decadence of the Eldar. Some of the more far-sighted noticed this. These few "dissidents" from the dark path began to tread openly, criticising the lax morals of their fellow citizens in the homeworlds, warning them against the hedonistic effects of limitless pleasure cults. Those who cried for restraint were often seen as deluded puritans at best, their calls for action mostly ignored. Soon the general collapse of Eldar society into hedonistic excess convinced even the most resolute that their species was racing towards an inevitable disaster. Fearing this, some Eldar decide to abandon their homeworlds and colonize new planets so recently formed that they were completely free of the creeping corruption. These Eldar, like their counterparts of the Craftworlds, remained untainted by the all-consuming change, what later generations of the Eldar would call, the Path of Damnation. Though by the time of their homeworld population's destruction, the Exodites would represent only a small fraction of the Eldar.
These dissidents had then come to be known as the Exodites, uniquely far-sighted and pragmatic members of their race, and reviled by fellow Eldar as dour fanatics obsessed with misery and self-denial. In fact, some were driven insane -- their dire premonitions ceaselessly haunting their every dream -- most likely an effect of the psychic ability all Eldar innately possessed. Other Exodites were genuine survivalists who firmly chose exile over degradation and destruction. All of those who sought new life began their exodus in an assortment of various Eldar spacecraft. Many died during the course of their long journeys, some reached new worlds only to be slain by marauding Orks or their chosen colony planet's natural predators. But many more persevered and survived, heading into the galactic east, as far from the Eldar empire's core worlds as they could reach.
The Exodites settled upon worlds within the fringes of the Milky Way Galaxy as early as the 26th Millennium. Many of these savage worlds were harsh and life was inescapably brutal for a people unused to all forms of extensive physical work and self-denial. When the final cataclysm of the Fall erupted in the 30th Millennium and the psychic birth pangs of Slaanesh consumed the Eldar homeworlds, the majority of Exodite colonies were far enough away from the psychic epicenter, and survived. The resultant psychic implosion wiped out the remaining doomed of the race, leaving a yawning hole in the fabric of space, a Warp rift which later came to be known as the Eye of Terror. While many Eldar Craftworlds survived, able to ride out the resulting psychic shock wave, the Exodites were already relatively safe -- or else they perished, their souls consumed by She Who Thirsts along with the rest of their race.
Since the beginning in which they first settled, the current Exodite homeworlds have not changed a great deal. These Eldar live a more primitive and austere life than that of the Craftworld Eldar and even their surviving corrupted kin, who lived in the Webway before the Fall and are known as the Dark Eldar, or the Drukhari. Exodites learned to cultivate crops and harvest other natural resources, their societies adapted to a more rigorous and physical culture compared to those of the Craftworlds, who still make use of the Eldar's advanced technology to maintain a labour-free existence. Where the Craftworld Eldar cling to the past of their race and preserve all they can of their fallen civilisation, the Exodites have turned their backs, away from ancient tradition in favour of a simpler, harder way of life. Their psychic defenses are now tougher and more straightforward but not as subtle and thus ultimately less effective than those of their Craftworld cousins. They have proven until now to be capable of surviving, and of all the Eldar they seem the most likely to continue to do so.
The Craftworld Eldar regard the Exodites as rustic and simple folk -- vigorous and wild compared to their own introverted and often hermetically sealed societies. The system known as the Eldar Paths do not determine the way of life for an Exodite Eldar unlike those of the Craftworlds. The wilder and individualistic Exodites are more independent-minded and adventurous, able to live out in this austere fashion because of their extreme distance from the Eye of Terror, which still acts as a psychic focus for the destructive influence of the Eldar's most virulent enemy, Slaanesh. Unfortunately, distance alone does not protect them from the Chaos God's desire to consume all souls, and thus remains a significant priority concerning the Exodites' survival.
The worlds of the Exodites are savage and untamed, their meager settlements coexisting with wild beasts of all kinds. They are too few and far enough between, scattered and disruptive to the delicate balance of nature. Many are only occupied for a few months of the year, because on many worlds the Exodites are nomadic, moving with the seasons and the herds. They time their migrations according to when they must collect and plant their crops, remaining only long enough to gather what they previously planted in the spring, and staying until it is time to plant the following year's crop and set off once again.
Creatures that inhabit these worlds are numerous and varied. Most of the Exodite worlds are home to large herds of Megadons and other gigantic reptilian beasts the Exodites refer to as "dragons." These creatures are not native to their regions, as the early Eldar settlers intentionally spread them throughout all their worlds so that they are now quite common. The Exodites follow these herds as they graze, carefully managing them for food. Not only partaking of their flesh but of their blood as drink, skins as clothing and leather-work, and bones and horns, which act in part as substitute for psycho-plastic substances such as the Wraithbone used by the Craftworld Eldar.
Dragons are diverse and contain different kinds of species, some of which are unique to specific worlds and used in different ways according to their size and nature. The massive herbivores known as Megadons, are slow-witted and easy to manage, although deadly if panicked or mistreated. These creatures provide most of the material resources used by the Exodites. Smaller Megadons are used to transport cargo and people across the great plains of their worlds. A large Megadon on the other hand, is capable of carrying a massive structure on its back, bearing the most enormous weights without concern. The smaller, carnivorous dragons ridden by the Exodite warriors are used to herd and control the herbivorous Megadons. These warriors are so adept as to be practically born into the tall dragon saddles -- consummate riders, wielding their long lances with ease. A stab with one of their lances will turn or stop a Megadon without causing it any harm, but the same blow would knock the most hardy Eldar to the ground, lifeless. Warriors are an integral part of Exodite societies. They play an important role as protectors of each community as well as acting to safeguard their valuable resources from predators and the like.
The psycho-plastics like Wraithbone that are the cornerstone of Eldar technology are rare and precious on these remote planets, so the Exodites utilise other substances and rely upon simpler methods for certain tasks and constant physical labour that is all but unknown to the Eldar of the Craftworlds. Although this lifestyle is in many respects a primitive one, the Exodites still possess many advanced technologies and remain familiar with the sophisticated materials used on the Craftworlds. It is by choice that they live as they do, and their way of life has proven every bit as successful, if not more rewarding than those of the other Eldar.
Every Exodite homeworld has its own equivalent to the Craftworlds' Infinity Circuit which they refer to as the World Spirit. This immense store of psychic energy is where the minds of the dead Exodites are preserved forever after their passing from the physical world. Like their Craftworld kin, the Exodites also wear Spirit Stones, and when they die they are taken beneath the earth into one of their great tribal barrows. There, they are laid to rest; their Spirit Stones broken upon the altars of the World Spirit so their souls may become a part of that potent psychic collective.
This complex psychic energy grid extends over the entire planet, stretching between the tribal barrows, stone circles and standing stones. The Spirit World (the Warp) and the Material World (realspace) can interact at these special places; the spirits of the dead flowing together as one network of pure psychic energy, a vortex of power where the living can talk to the dead if they possess the psychic ability to interact with the World Spirit. The stone circles and standing stones scattered all across Exodite worlds are made from psychically interactive crystals. These towering stones are essentially gigantic Spirit Stones that anchor the World Spirit's psychic power into planet. The links between these stones form a part of the Eldar Webway, but the paths from the Webway into the different World Spirits are well-hidden and closely guarded. This enables Eldar to move between the Craftworlds and the Exodite Maiden Worlds by means of the Webway, with interlinking paths over the Exodite worlds themselves. Because their worlds are home to their departed spirits and shelter them from the predation of Chaos, the Exodites will fight fiercely in protection of their planet. To abandon a settled world is akin to abandoning the souls of their ancestors to the Warp and She Who Thirsts, for without constant replenishment, World Spirits diminish slowly and are rendered vulnerable.
While individual Exodite societies vary, across worlds as well as between them, common to almost all of those known is a social structure based around small, independent tribal communities. The reasons for this are unclear; it is a commonly-held belief amongst the scholars of the Imperium of Man that tribalism is the natural state of the Eldar (evidenced by what little information is known to the Imperium of the Dark Eldar). The life of the Exodites is thought by these thinkers to bear the closest resemblance to the Eldar societies of their lost interstellar empire before the Fall began. Exodite society is a tribal one, each group owing allegiance to a local ruling tribe which in turn owes fealty to the planet's king and his royal tribe. Despite the claims of Imperial scholars, this social structure more than likely developed out of necessity, as small, scattered communities were the most efficient way to utilise the sparse natural resources of the newly settled Maiden Worlds. Due to the relatively few number of Exodites, there are causes to a few territorial disputes. Open wars between tribes are rare though skirmishes between rival young Dragon Knights are known to be common. Although not openly warlike, the Exodites are a robust, self-confident people and still possess the legendary pride -- some would call it arrogance -- of the Eldar race.
Dragon Knights in particular, frequently try to steal away a rival's beasts or may attempt to move their herds over the grazing areas of other tribes. Such matters are seen as part of a Dragon Knight's training, and the dangers of death or serious injury are an accepted part of a young warrior's life. These raids and occasional deaths do not embitter the tribes to one another, and regardless of how hard-fought their battles might be, an Eldar would not despoil or steal the crops of a rival tribe, even as these lie unprotected for months at a time.
The Exodite societies are a common destination for Eldar Outcasts since they are notably less hostile to outsiders and those who forsake the Eldar Paths than the Craftworld Eldar. Often these rogue Eldar seek the patronage of one of the Exodite tribes. In return, they fight alongside the tribe's warriors and, for a while at least, enjoy the freedom of mind which is often impossible to find on the Craftworlds. To the Exodites, the Outcasts are strange, romantic figures, masters of a hidden lore and way of life which is arcane and archaic. They bring skills the Exodites value highly, and so are always made welcome at the courts of the tribal Eldar.
- Codex: Eldar (6th Edition), pp. 7-8, 11-12, 14, 20, 46, 48
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pp. 4, 7, 11, 14-15
- Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition), pp. 16-17, 30, 76
- Codex: Harlequins (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 3
- White Dwarf Magazine 126 (UK), "Space Marine - Knights," by Andy Chamber, pp. 28-29
- Promethean Sun (Novella) by Nick Kyme
- Path of the Renegade (Novel) by Andy Chambers