The Exodites are a kindred of the Aeldari species that rejected the slow degeneration of their ancient civilisation several Terran millennia before the Fall of the Aeldari, seeing that the Aeldari were already courting disaster long before their fellows.
Upon their new homes, these so-called "Exodites" could isolate themselves from the Aeldari's brewing corruption and hedonism -- and survive the cataclysm that would soon consume their people.
Exodites live startlingly pre-industrial and primitive lives compared to other Aeldari kindreds like the Asuryani and Drukhari, having chosen to abandon the automated, labour-saving technologies that long defined Aeldari life in return for the spiritual health brought by pursuing the hard labour of survival for oneself.
Their worlds are crisscrossed by a network of crystalline stone circles and menhirs that act as World Shrines where the Exodite fallen can have their souls merged from Soul Stones after death with what is known as the "World Spirit."
The Exodites are those who, several Terran millennia before the Fall of the Aeldari, predicted the coming of the Great Enemy, "She Who Thirsts," the Chaos God Slaanesh, born of the growing decadence of the Aeldari civilisation. Some of the more far-sighted among the citizens of the Aeldari Empire 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 Aeldari society into hedonistic excess convinced even the most resolute that their species was racing towards an inevitable disaster. Fearing this, some Aeldari decided to abandon their homeworlds and colonise new planets so recently formed that they were completely free of the creeping corruption.
These Aeldari, like their counterparts of the craftworlds, remained untainted by the all-consuming change, what later generations of the Craftworld Aeldari known as the Asuryani would call the "Path of Damnation." However, by the time of their homeworlds' destruction, the Exodites would represent only a small fraction of the Aeldari.
These dissidents had then come to be known as the "Exodites," uniquely far-sighted and pragmatic members of their race, and reviled by fellow Aeldari dedicated to the pleasure cults 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 Aeldari innately possessed. Other Exodites were genuine survivalists who firmly chose exile on low-technology, hardship-strewn wilderness worlds over personal degradation and destruction.
All of those who sought a new life began their exodus in an assortment of various Aeldari 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 ancient Aeldari Empire's core worlds in the galactic northwest as they could reach.
The Exodites settled upon worlds within the fringes of the Milky Way Galaxy as early as the 26th Millennium of the Imperial Calendar. Many of these savage worlds were harsh and life was inescapably brutal for a people unused to all forms of extensive physical labour and self-denial.
When the final cataclysm of the Fall erupted in the 30th Millennium and the psychic birth pangs of Slaanesh consumed the Aeldari homeworlds, the majority of Exodite colonies were far enough away from the psychic epicentre of the new Chaos God's birth, and resisted its incessant pull upon their souls.
The resultant psychic implosion wiped out the remaining doomed members of the Aeldari species, leaving a yawning hole in the fabric of space, a Warp rift which later came to be known as the Eye of Terror by the Imperium of Man.
While many Aeldari craftworlds survived, able to ride out the resulting psychic shock wave by travelling far enough from its epicentre, the Exodites were already relatively safe -- or else they perished, their souls consumed by She Who Thirsts along with the rest of their people.
Since the time in which they were first settled, the current Exodite homeworlds have not changed a great deal. These Aeldari live a more primitive and austere life than their kindred among the Asuryani of the craftworlds and even their surviving corrupted kin, who lived in the Webway before the Fall and are known as the Drukhari.
The Exodites learned to once more cultivate crops and harvest other natural resources by hand like their ancient ancestors, their societies adapted to a more rigorous and physical culture compared to those of the craftworlds, who still make use of the Aeldari's advanced automated technology to maintain a labour-free existence.
Where the Craftworld Aeldari 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 defences are now tougher and more straightforward but not as subtle and thus ultimately less effective than those of their craftworld kindred. They have proven until now to be capable of surviving, and of all the Aeldari they seem the most likely to continue to do so.
The Craftworld Aeldari 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 Asuryani Path does not determine the way of life for an Exodite Aeldari 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 Aeldari's most virulent enemy, Slaanesh.
Unfortunately, distance alone does not protect them from the ravenous Chaos God's desire to consume all Aeldari souls, and thus spiritual protection remains a significant priority for the Exodites' continued 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 local 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 Aeldari 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 Aeldari.
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 called "Dragon Knights" 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 Aeldari to the ground, lifeless.
Such 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 Craftworld Aeldari 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 Asuryani of the craftworlds.
Although this lifestyle is in many respects a primitive, pre-industrial 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 Aeldari.
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. Thus, the Exodites make use of the same psychoactive crystalline technology as the Asuryani to protect themselves from the continued soul hunger of Slaanesh.
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's crystalline World Shrines 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 that serve as the physical World Shrines. The "Spirit World" (the Immaterium) 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 that serve as World Shrines are made from psychically interactive crystals. These towering stones are essentially gigantic Spirit Stones that anchor the World Spirit's psychic power into the planet. The links between these stones form a part of the Aeldari Webway, but the paths from the Webway into the different World Spirits are well-hidden and closely guarded.
This enables Aeldari 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 factious tribalism is the natural state of the Aeldari (evidenced by what little information is known to the Imperium of the Drukhari).
The life of the Exodites is thought by these thinkers to bear the closest resemblance to the Aeldari 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 few causes for territorial disputes. Open wars between tribes are rare, though skirmishes between rival young warriors known as 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 Aeldari 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 Aeldari 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 Asuryani Outcasts since they are notably less hostile to outsiders and those who forsake the Asuryani Path than the Craftworld Aeldari. Often these rogue Asuryani 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 Aeldari.
- Codex: Craftworlds (8th Edition), pp. 7, 9, 14, 26
- 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
- Codex: Harlequins (8th Edition), pp. 8-9
- White Dwarf 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
- Psychic Awakening: Phoenix Rising (8th Edition), pg. 22