- "Such vile alien necromancy is despicable. It is right that we view with suspicion any who use these illicit methods. Even if we are forced to work with them, we are not to trust them."
- — Inquisitor Khromin
A Ghost Warrior is a Wraithbone robotic construct utilised exclusively by the Eldar in times of urgent need. For the Eldar, death does not guarantee respite from war, for the race's need is greater than that of its constituent souls. With the guidance of a Spiritseer, it is possible for an Eldar spirit to separate itself from the Infinity Circuit of the Craftworlds and flow into a Spirit Stone put aside for that purpose. Such a Spirit Stone can then be placed within the robotic body of a wraith-construct, imbuing its artificial form with a living intellect. This process is abhorrent to the Eldar, and such a technique is only initiated in times of dire need, but none can deny that the resultant combination of fierce warrior spirit and impervious host is a major weapon in the Eldar arsenal.
The Ghost Warriors are among the most powerful forces that the Eldar send into battle. Each one combines a towering robotic wraith-construct with the soul of a deceased Eldar warrior. Guided by a Spiritseer, and armed with some of the most devastating weaponry in the Eldar arsenal, a host of Ghost Warriors strides across the worlds of the galaxy bringing immortal vengeance. From the stoic ranks of the Wraithguard to the towering war machines known as Wraithknights, the formidable Ghost Warriors are only used in times of desperation -- for there is a greater darkness about them. They are a walking reminder that, for the Eldar, death offers no release from war and bloodletting.
Many of the Eldar wear highly polished Waystones upon their chests. At the precise moment an Eldar dies, the wearer's soul becomes captured within this stone -- which is then known as a Spirit Stone. If the stone can be recovered, it is then customary for it to be taken into one of the Craftworld's bio-domes, where the soul is released into the Infinity Circuit -- the Eldar's source of eldritch energy, a place of rest, and sanctuary from the Warp. However, this is by no means the cessation of an Eldar's contribution to war, as under desperate conditions, an adroit Seer can be forced to withdraw a spirit from the Infinity Circuit and into a Spirit Stone once again. This newly imbued Spirit Stone can then be bonded with the wraithbone of a large robotic construct. The merging of an Eldar soul and machine results in the birth of a powerful Ghost Warrior.
This union is not something that the Eldar embrace. In fact, most believe it is an abhorrent act and something to be used only when no other means of salvation presents itself. Eldar wear the Spirit Stones because they believe that if their souls make it into the Infinity Circuit then they will be safe in death from the hunger of Slaanesh. It is therefore considered a great sin to draw these spirits from out of their ever-lasting sanctuary into the real world once again, where there remains a risk of their Spirit Stones being shattered in war and their souls forever lost to She Who Thirsts. But for the Eldar to reach out into the afterlife in such a way marks the gravity of their situation. Such is the plight of the Eldar -- such is their position as a dying race in the galaxy -- even the spirits of the dead are needed to fight once again for their people.
The Forms of the Ghost
- "I long to examine a wraith-construct with the Spirit Stone still intact. Alas, I have studied only fragments of an empty shell and nothing more. It is lifeless and full of mystery. I very much doubt we can understand such dangerous technology with our conventional understanding. In the wrong hands, one can only imagine the danger it presents to Mankind."
The wraith-constructs in which the Spirit Stones are housed are made from no common material -- they are crafted from wraithbone. At least as strong as ceramite, wraithbone is an organic material -- grown, not forged, and able to self-repair over time. This incredibly resilient material enables the Ghost Warriors to stride across the most violent of battlefields and weather Bolter blasts from Traitor Marines or sizzling bio-plasma from dreaded Tyranid Hive Fleet creatures. Only in times of dire need, when large armies are required to avert disaster, and the living are not sufficient to fill the Eldar's ranks, do the Ghost Warriors march into battle as a single force, for it is considered blasphemy to disturb so many Eldar souls. Should an impenetrable bastion need opening up, or swathes of Imperial troops need holding away from a sacred, ancient temple, the Ghost Warriors offer their Craftworld a whole new level of resilience and firepower. When the Ghost Warriors enter a war zone as a single force, they are a dreaded sight for any commander. Their sophisticated weaponry is beyond the comprehension of a common human soldier. Able to rip holes in dimensions, the Ghost Warriors will simply disappear whole platoons. Meanwhile, the Wraithknight grapples with tanks or monsters, or blasts apart a fortress wall so that the smaller wraith-constructs can cause havoc inside. Amidst swirls of ethereal light and destructive reality-folding vortexes, the Ghost Warriors united bring about the full vengeance of the Eldar dead. Though considerably larger than other Eldar, the Ghost Warriors come in a number of different forms, including:
Wraithlords are lithe but mighty nobles that dwarf even their Wraithguard cousins. These statuesque robotic constructs are extremely precious to their Craftworlds and, due to their wraithbone construction, have a supernatural toughness that surpasses even that of adamantium. Summoned into being by the necromantic processes of the Eldar Seers, only a true hero of the Eldar race has spirit enough to animate the massive wraithbone shell of a Wraithlord. An Eldar army may be accompanied by several of these heroes of ages past, but, like all of their kind, they are dependent upon the presence of living Eldar for their sense of purpose. The mind of an Eldar warrior or Seer is like a bright beacon in the murk of realspace, a guiding light which enables a Ghost Warrior to perceive the world around it. It is common practice for a Wraithlord to be accompanied in battle by a Spiritseer, an expert in matters ethereal who steers the Ghost Warrior to ever greater feats of destruction. There are many different forms of Wraithlord, most of which have been devised by Craftworld Iyanden to better suit the warrior spirit inside. If the animating force within the Wraithlord specialised in close assault when it was alive, it will seek to tear apart its enemies with great energised fists or cleave its foes with a swing of the sentient scimitar known as a Ghostglaive. If the animating spirit specialised in fire support, the Ghost Warrior's energy core will instead be rerouted to power a devastating array of heavy weapons that sprout from its shoulders or are carried in its huge fists with all the ease that a Dire Avenger wields a Shuriken Catapult. Either way, a single Wraithlord can turn the tide of battle, the legends of the fallen hero animating its shell continuing to grow even in death.
Looming Ghost Warriors many times larger than even the mighty Wraithlords, the war machines known as Wraithknights are still dextrous enough to run through the ruin of a shattered city, leaping from pillar to spar as their arcane weapons bring oblivion to the enemies of the Eldar. Each carries either a pair of heavy Wraithcannons, their lengthy forms capable of sending their targets straight into the hell-dimension of the Warp; a Suncannon, powerful enough to obliterate a platoon of human soldiers in a single blast of roiling fusion-generated plasma; or a great Ghostglaive and Scattershield with which to engage even the Daemon Lords of Chaos in single combat.
In many ways, the Wraithknights embody the cyclical symbols of the Eldar, the curving discs of the Eldar Lexicon that display a portion of death within life and a portion of life within death. Their contoured shells house the spirits of the wakeful dead in much the same way as lesser Ghost Warriors, though their armoured chests each hold a living Eldar pilot within. These pilots are not normal steersmen such as those at the helm of Eldar grav-tanks and aircraft, but rare and unusual warriors who were each born a twin. The psychic link between an Eldar and his identical twin is like no other. Whilst alive, these gifted individuals can sense the proximity, the mood, and even the thoughts of their counterparts with the ease that a normal Eldar could feel the sun on his skin or the wind in his hair. The bond is so strong that should one of the twins die before the other, the surviving brother or sister will often fade away in sympathy.
The clarity of thought provided by the living twin ensures that the construct moves with the speed typical of the Eldar race, whilst the psychic link between the pilot and his departed sibling allows him to commune with not only the animating forces of the twin, but also the spirits of former incumbents that once controlled the construct's long-limbed form. The great measure of control afforded by this gestalt mind gives the pilot mastery over the construct's psychically-powered weapon systems and affords the war machine an acrobatic grace that belies its massive size.
It is well that each Wraithknight is capable of such feats of heroism, for it is they who are at the forefront of the quest for new Spirit Stones. By passing through forbidden portals and traversing the shattered multidimensional spars of the Webway, Wraithknights can emerge onto the surface of the Crone Worlds, where the nature of realspace shears with that of the Warp. Those mortals who embark upon such perilous missions risk not only their life but also their eternal soul. Only the Wraithknights have the power and resilience necessary to harvest a clutch of Spirit Stones and still escape from the nightmarish denizens of the Crone Worlds.
The predominant type of Ghost Warrior in use among the Craftworlds is the Wraithguard. These giant robotic warriors are shaped from the immensely resilient substance known as wraithbone, and tower above the Spiritseers that accompany them upon the battlefield. They have the same exquisite design and flowing organic shapes common to all Eldar constructs, and are often decorated with stylised runes and gemstones. However these war-constructs contrast sharply with their living counterparts, for the vitality and alacrity of the Eldar is absent. Instead, the Wraithguard stride purposefully forward with the inevitability of death, the sepulchral silence of their advance punctuated only by the sound of reality itself being torn apart by their Wraithcannons and Distortion Scythes. The over-sized weapons of the Wraithguard allow each of them to focus a portion of their psychic power upon a fixed target. The arcane beams of these weapons open a localised rift between Warpspace and the material universe for a fraction of a second. If this rift opens within the ranks of the enemy, the results range from catastrophic trauma to full bodily displacement into the Warp.
The most feared of all the Wraithguard are usually referred to as Wraithblades -- few Eldar will speak their true name in the Eldar Lexicon, Klaivaulch, for fear of inciting the wrath of Khaine. Tradition has it that each Craftworld keeps these vengeful constructs apart from other Ghost Warriors so that the immortal anger that pervades their wraithbone shells does not taint those who might one day attain peace. When the call to war is heard, these beings are awakened by the most gifted Seers. Their Spirit Stones glow hot as the slow-burning anger of the dead flows through their cores. Once kindled, the wrath that animates their wraithbone bodies becomes an unstoppable fury that can only be quenched in the blood of their foe. Wielding twin Ghostswords that leave glowing traces in the air, the Wraithblades cut down their foes with both merciless precision and the great might afforded by their long-limbed forms. Some of these constructs instead bear elegant Ghostaxes and glowing Forceshields, which deflect enemy fire as they advance and misdirect the desperate blows aimed at them at close quarters. In deadly melee, the Wraithblades take the lives of the foe just as their lives were taken in the ongoing battle against the extinction of the Eldar race.
- "Gather the dead for war. Let them join our ranks, lest we are forced to join theirs."
Though every Eldar Craftworld will at some point be forced to call upon the souls of their fallen heroes to fight once again, one of the Craftworlds particularly noted for using large numbers of Ghost Warriors and Spiritseers is Iyanden. The once-populous Craftworld's history is littered with great deeds and noble victories, but the Craftworld is perhaps most famous for the profound tragedy that struck it in 992.M41. It was besieged by Hive Fleet Kraken on such a scale that a staggering number of its populace were slain. Against the many millions of Tyranids, thousands of Eldar souls were drawn back from the Infinity Circuit in order to stand against the Great Devourer. To this day, there remain just a small number of mortal warriors able to fight for Iyanden. Consequently, those living few are accompanied to battle by a large number of the souls of the dead, and it is not uncommon to see vast armies of Ghost Warriors striding to war at their behest. Indeed, Iyanden now depends upon the actions of the dead in order for the remaining living Eldar of the Craftworld to survive.
Ghost Warriors perceive the physical world only dimly, and can be slow to react to -- or even acknowledge -- instructions issued by non-Seers. For the armies of Iyanden, which rely ever more on their wraith-constructs to win victory, such delays can prove catastrophic if they occur in the crucible of battle, where even a second's tardiness can transmute a hard-won victory into a bitter and costly defeat. It is to guard against this danger that an Autarch of Iyanden seldom engages in battle without at least one Spiritseer at his side. By maintaining a telepathic link with both the Autarch and the Ghost Warriors, an Iyanden Spiritseer can ensure that the wraith-constructs react swiftly to changes in the battle-plan; more swiftly, sometimes, than the Aspect Warriors and Guardians who make up the remainder of the host. Of course, the more Ghost Warriors there are present in the host, the greater the strain this places on any individual Spiritseer. Thus, in larger campaigns, an Autarch might well be accompanied by an entire council of Spiritseers -- known as a "Shadow Council" -- each of whom is responsible for overseeing the actions of a different Ghost Warrior strike force.
This arrangement, which originally arose out of necessity, has over time become an established practice and one of Iyanden's greatest strengths, allowing elements of the Craftworld's Ghost Warrior host that are scattered across the battlefield to operate with a coordination that far outstrips that of the living. As tireless beings with no need for rest or sustenance, Ghost Warriors can remain in silent ambush for days at a time, if need be, patiently waiting for the order that will begin the killing.
Though much of Eldar history is so old as to have become myth, there are more recent events in which the various Craftworlds have been known to deploy their dreaded Ghost Warriors:
- A Dark Enemy (232.M41) - In the aftermath of a battle on Cullrak, in which the Eldar of Mymeara successfully fight off a daemonic incursion, a huge raiding party from the Dark Eldar Kabal of the Fiend Ascendant threatens a clutch of the Eldar's Spirit Stones. It is greatly feared that the Kabal will retreat to Commorragh and debase the souls of Mymeara's dead. With their numbers already considerably depleted from the previous battle, the Eldar of Mymeara have little choice but to command their Spiritseers to unleash the Ghost Warriors in their defence. The wraith-constructs launch one of the most vengeful strikes in the Craftworld's history and numerous Kabalite Warriors and their Raiders are incinerated by searing Wraithknight plasma blasts.
- An Anticipated Atrocity (631.M41) - The Farseers of Alaitoc foresee a vicious assault from an Ork WAAAGH! on the Maiden World of Alayran. With many of their Rangers too far from the Craftworld to be recalled in time, the Farseers reluctantly call upon their Spiritseers to activate a force of Ghost Warriors. The wraith-constructs are duly brought to war and hurried into concealed positions across the planet. When the attack arrives, the spirit warriors of Alaitoc make pinpoint attacks on the Greenskin leaders, quickly tearing the heart from the WAAAGH! and driving the Orks from the Maiden World.
- Chaos Thwarted (899.M41) - A vast Word Bearers Traitor Legion voidship storms out of the Eye of Terror and sets a path towards Craftworld Il-Kaithe. In response, the Eldar release their Ghost Warriors aboard the monstrous vessel. Battle rages within its cavernous corridors for several weeks, the Ghost Warriors enduring ferocious firepower from scores of Daemon Engines. Eventually, the tide of battle turns when, in one of the ship's rancid landing bays, three Il-Kaithe Wraithknights engage in combat with a debased Feral-class Titan. They finally blast it into the void of space and then begin the methodical slaughter of the remaining Chaos forces.
- Dishonourable Alliances (909.M41) - A vast Imperial force comprised of the 52nd and 124th Valhallan Imperial Guard Regiments leads an invasion of the Ice World of Klaihn. To prevent a sacred Eldar Temple of Isha from falling into the hands of the Imperium, Biel-Tan and Lugganath each field their most potent Ghost Warriors and Aspect Warriors in a unified force. Partially because of the strange, ethereal blizzards and the stubbornness of the Valhallans, what was intended to be a fast strike results in a protracted and exhausting conflict. Eventually, the Eldar reach the temple and encircle it with ghost warriors, only for a Warp-blizzard to bring new terrors in the form of a wave of Daemons. An uneasy alliance is struck between the Eldar and the Imperial forces to purge the planet of frost-blighted Slaaneshi Warp-horrors. However, the Eldar have a greater plan, and lure the Daemons and Valhallans into a bloody conflict against each other that greatly reduces the numbers of each. Though the Valhallans are finally victorious against the Warpspawn, the ghost warriors easily rout the exhausted Imperial survivors.
Ghost Warriors were introduced in the 1st Edition of Warhammer 40,000 where both they and their large counterparts known as "Spirit Warriors" served as alternates to Eldar Dreadnoughts. "Ghost Warriors" were originally conceived as being a mechanical robotic walker created by the Craftworld Eldar to carry out infiltration, assassination and sabotage missions for their military forces. Each Ghost Warrior was controlled by the soul of a dead Eldar ancestor drawn from a Craftworld's Infinity Circuit. A Ghost Warrior was smaller than the larger constructs referred to as "Spirit Warriors." These robots were controlled by the guiding intelligence of the soul housed within their Spirit Stones, while the robots themselves were constructed from a substance known as Stelhene, a plastic compound that made them invisible to most forms of active and passive sensors. This Stelhene composition combined with a form of internal energy shielding to allow a Ghost Warrior to remain invisible to all but the naked eye.
These constructs were referred to as their own class of robots, despite the disembodied sentience that guided them. They have made no further appearance as originally conceived in the later editions of Warhammer 40,000 canon and seem to have been replaced by Eldar Wraithlord and Wraithguard constructs, which operate in a very similar manner and also are controlled by the Spirit Stones of long-dead Eldar warriors. It is possible now that the terms "Ghost Warrior" or "Spirit Warrior" simply refers to any Eldar robotic combat walker or construct controlled by a spirit drawn from a Craftworld's Infinity Circuit. Variants included:
- Executioner-class Ghost Warrior - The Executioner-class was equipped with a Chainfist, Power Glove and Flamer. Its shell was coated with Cameleoline to make it hard to spot even in visible light.
- Assassin-class Ghost Warrior - The Assassin-class Ghost Warrior possessed two Power Gloves and was outfitted with a Shuriken Catapult to provide long-ranged firepower. The shell of the Assassin-class Ghost Warrior was also coated with Cameleoline and the robot possessed a Teleport Homer to allow it to make instantaneous and unexpected entrances and exits.
- Codex: Eldar (6th Edition), pp. 49-51
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pg. 46
- Craftworld Iyanden - A Codex: Eldar Supplement (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 8-9, 16-17, 25, 32, 46, 49-55
- Dataslate: Eldar Ghost Warriors (Digital Edition)
- Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymeara, pg. 182
- Warhammer 40,000: Compendium (1st Edition) "Chapter Approved - Eldar Ghost-Warriors," pg. 73