A Seer is a member of the Craftworld Eldar race who is currently following the Path of the Eldar dedicated to the development and extensive use of the Eldar's potent psychic powers beyond the innate psychic ability possessed by every Eldar. Those who choose to augment their psychic abilities through the continual use of Warp energies are said to walk the Witch Path or the Path of the Seer, where they will gain proper training and experience in the usage and enhancement of their natural psychic abilities. Due to the danger of attracting the attention of the Chaos God Slaanesh in the Warp, most Eldar avoid calling on their psychic powers, and highly ritualise their usage. As a result, the Path of the Seer is considered the most dangerous of all the Eldar Paths, as well as the most uncommon Path to tread. Because of the danger involved, there are very few Seers of any type to be found on each Craftworld.
Even before the Fall, the Eldar were already a potently psychic species, the depth of their emotions and perceptions being much, much keener than those of any other intelligent race in the galaxy. Each experience is for an Eldar a true feast for the senses, to the extent that a reckless Eldar can actually die from sensory overload. The extreme emotional gratification the Eldar receive from any accomplishment inexorably led their ancient interstellar empire into a downward spiral of hedonism and overindulgence marked by the quest for ever more intense sensations. This long period of hedonistic debauchery eventually culminated in the cataclysmic Fall and the birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure, known to the Eldar as "She-Who-Thirsts."
In a last-ditch effort to save his people if not himself, Asuryan, foremost of the Eldar Gods, imbued most of his powers into the surviving Eldar, heightening their psychic potential even further before he was devoured like almost all of the other Eldar Gods by the newborn Slaanesh. After the horrors of the Fall, the few surviving Eldar realised that Slaanesh would not rest until it had devoured every last Eldar soul, and that they needed some form of protection to ensure their continued survival. The Craftworld Eldar found such solace in the rigidly codified ways of life that are the Paths of the Eldar. All Paths, from the most common to the most esoteric, have a core function in common, namely to allow an Eldar to harness his or her innate psychic and emotional potential, use it safely when performing his chosen role or craft, and keep it in check when not required; all this in order to avoid attracting the unwanted attention of "She-Who-Thirsts". Most Paths limit themselves to using an Eldar's already considerable innate psychic potential, and avoid the extremely dangerous business of drawing extra power from the Empyrean as a human psyker would.
The terms "Seer" and "Path of the Seer" designate those Eldar who actively rely on drawing upon and harnessing Warp energy to fulfill their chosen function upon their Craftworld in an effort to aid their people. Each Seer explores his psychic potential in his own way. The range of a dedicated Eldar psyker's abilities are vast and largely depend on the previous Paths the Eldar explored before starting his journey down the Path of the Seer. For instance, a Seer having walked the Path of the Artisan might learn to move objects through the manipulation of kinetic forces and then adapt this technique as a Seer to create living symphonies of shape as well as movement, while another might instead develop his talents towards the use of empathic powers for healing purposes or to counsel others. The Path of the Seer is by necessity undertaken only after having already mastered at least one other Path, and often many more than that. No Eldar would ever be foolish enough to teach a raw youth who has not yet even mastered himself enough to complete one Path how to open his mind to the Warp. The visceral fear amongst the Eldar of taking any action that could draw the attention of Slaanesh is enough to frighten off all but the most self-possessed and steadfast individuals from the Path of the Seer.
Unlike psykers from the other intelligent races who crudely open their minds to the Warp directly in order to draw the necessary power into themselves to manifest their powers, Eldar Seers rely on psycho-receptive runes to draw and store power from the Warp. The runes are neither decorative baubles nor mere toys, but can be likened to keys which lock and unlock potent psychic patterns in the Seer's mind. They also work as a fail-safe against the many perils of the Warp, foremost amongst them being possession by daemons. By meditating upon a rune, the Seer both charges power into the psychically-receptive material, while mentally reaching the correct mindset to unleash the power it promises. Once this is done, the Seer can then manifest the power without risk. While individual runes are already potent, truly powerful effects are only realized when combining different runes, creating powerful rituals often much more potent than the sum of their individual parts. The power and breadth of experience of a Seer can be ascertained just by looking at the amount of runes he or she carefully manipulates while performing a ritual.
The major difficulty of working with runes comes when a Seer either must learn from another Seer how to use a rune he has not mastered yet, or worse, when no rune exists allowing him to realize what he wants. The shaping of a rune (this can refer to either learning an existing rune or creating a new one) is a dangerous undertaking fraught with peril, as the Eldar struggles to find the correct mindset allowing him to manifest his powers without risk. Often, this process is undertaken within a Craftworld's Dome of Crystal Seers, where the Infinity Circuit and the individual souls of past Farseers can offer a measure of guidance and protection to the shaping Seer. Once the perilous process is completed, the Seer can add the new rune to his collection and start using its power in his rituals.
Learning the Fates
One of the greatest skills possessed by the Seers of the Eldar is their ability to read the destiny of all things and to weave the fates to better direct the outcome of the future. To the innately psychic Seers, manipulating fate is no more difficult than unpicking and restitching the weave on a loom, albeit a weave made from a billion billion different threads woven so tight as to be near-invisible. Seers make use of Wraithbone runes, casting these artefacts to make auguries before plucking at the strings of fate with their minds alone, steering the future as a pilot might steer a ship.
Variant Seer Paths
As mentioned above, there is no set role when exploring the Path of the Seer, as each Seer ultimately comes with his own past troves of experience and abilities which condition the role he will play within the fraternity of a Craftworld's Seers, and his own expression of power through the application of his mastered runes. However, there do exist certain types of Seers who carry out similar functions for their Craftworlds and so display similar powers and pursue a similar philosophy concerning the role of the Seer. These different types of Seers include:
- Artisan - Some Seers follow up on their previous careers walking the Path of the Artisan, and enhance their creations through the use of psychic powers.
- Bonesinger - Bonesingers are the craftsmen of the Eldar, and learn how to manipulate the solidified psychic material known as Wraithbone in order to construct whatever the Craftworld requires. Wraithbone is, in essence, a form of solid, crystallised Warp energy. All Bonesingers are powerful psykers to an extent, but some amongst them, mostly those serving on the large Eldar war machines like Ghost Warriors and Eldar Titans, ultimately choose to pursue the Path of the Seer in order to learn to harness and channel more psychic power into the Wraithbone, and quickly perform battlefield repairs.
- Farseer - A Farseer is an Eldar who has become lost forever on the Path of the Seer. Farseers are amongst the most potent psykers in the galaxy, but like all Eldar lost on their Path, this power comes at the cost of being utterly consumed by that role, for they will never again be able to do or become anything else, a terrible tragedy for beings with lifespans as long as those of an Eldar.
- Healers - Some Seers turn their powers to the task of healing, psychically calming the wounded, and easing trauma, stress and shock, tremendously augmenting the chances of success of the more mundane surgical procedures. Such Healers are sometimes referred to as "Servants of Isha."
- Shadowseer - A Shadowseer is a Harlequin, whose role as the incarnation of Fate in his troupe makes him the equivalent of a Farseer amongst the Craftworld Eldar, though he ultimately serves the Harlequin's Laughing God Cegorach and not a specific Craftworld.
- Spiritseer - Spiritseers are Seers who chose to specialise in forming a bridge of telepathic communication between the still-living Eldar on board their Craftworld, and the souls of their deceased kin in the mighty world-ship's Infinity Circuit. Spiritseers are often required on the battlefield to direct the actions of Eldar Ghost Warrior robotic constructs.
- Thought-talkers - Thought-talkers are Eldar interpreters and ambassadors to other intelligent species in the galaxy. They are highly specialised Seers, in the sense that they learn to detect, interpret and emulate the minute variations the mind of a living being imprints upon the surrounding Empyrean, in order to be able to communicate with them psychically in their own language.
- Warlock - Warlocks are Seers who have in their past tread the Path of the Warrior at least once, and have chosen to empower their martial prowess further by delving into the mysteries of the Warp. Having learned by pursuing the Path of the Warrior to harness their hatred and agression in a constructive manner, Warlocks can also use these volatile emotions to manifest extremely destructive psychic powers to aid their Craftworld's forces on the battlefield.
- Wayseers - Wayseers are specialist Seers who activate and maintain the Webway and its numerous portals into realspace. Their expertise allows them to set up temporary Webway tunnels, allowing for quick movement by a Craftworld's voidships or military forces when circumstances require.
- White Seers - This secretive group of Seers assist the Harlequins in protecting the Black Library of Chaos.
- Wraithseer - A Wraithseer is actually a Warlock who has died and whose soul has been entreated by a Spiritseer to temporarily inhabit the construct body of a Wraithbone war engine like one of the types of Ghost Warrior constructs in order to assist his still-living kin against their foes.
The rune of the mystic eye appears in many forms. Each design hints at the variations of discipline and foresight favoured by the wearer, who is a potent psyker.
- Codex: Eldar Craftworlds (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 38
- Codex: Craftworld Eldar (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Eldar (4th edition), pp. 13, 42-50
- Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition), pg. 13
- Codex Imperialis (1st Edition), pg. 67
- Dark Heresy: The Radical's Handbook (RPG), pg. 207
- Warhammer 40,000: Compilation, pp. 52-53
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (3rd Edition), pg. 21
- Path of the Warrior (Novel) by Gavin Thorpe
- Path of the Seer (Novel) by Gavin Thorpe
- Shadow Point (Novel) by Gordon Rennie