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Inquisitor Engel
27-11-2007, 06:13
I've had to bring the Eldar Gods into a couple of threads recently and given my former position as the authority on the Eldar Deities, I thought I'd bring up a few points of interest I've had to think about in my time off from the hobby. (Who really takes a break?)

I work on the principle that the Eldar Gods are, in fact, ascended Old Ones. This comes as a compromise between my own ferverant belief that the Eldar Gods were Warp Entities.

Why? Well, there's signficant evidence that they are Warp Entities, the allusions to them having an existence in a realm outside our own rather than another world or planet, which is a distinction the Eldar language would make.

There's also a good portion of 3rd person (ie things written without an in-universe perspective) evidence that they're the Old Ones. A lot of the text in Codex: Necrons refers to the Old Ones up until the Eldar enter the scene and then the Eldar Gods take on much the same role (although there are references to the Old Ones going back to their homeworld to think slowly) even though it initially began as the Old Ones' war, it seemingly becomes the Eldar's War fairly quickly and ends with Eldar victories (Khaine and Nightbringer, Vaul and the Void Dragon, and Cergorach and the Outsider).

So how to reconcile these two seemingly independent theories? It's known Old Ones had perhaps the closest relationship with the Warp that any species could create and given that Daemon Princes are forcefully elevated mortals, its not too much of a stretch in my mind to believe that something within a relatively calm warp could take its own warp presence, once aware of it and leave the mortal realm and effectively combine their entire existence (Warp Presence and Life Essence) into one side of reality or the other.

We also know the Eldar Gods are fundamentally somehow different from the Chaos Gods in that they physically manifested themselves in the materium, multiple times. Not Avatars, not Daemons, actual Gods. I believe his differences stems from the fact that since the Eldar Gods have a defined personality and life essence, they maintained a stronger tie to the materium and were a more cohesive (albeit smaller) Vortex of emotion within the warp.

We know the Emperor is capable of doing the exact same thing, its his inability to combine both his warp presence and his life essence (kept alive by the Golden Throne) due to the Golden Throne, thus, no Numen.

So why not the Old Ones?



Also, side notes:

If the Old Ones were also capable of combining LE and WP on the material side, they might become immortal, leading to the long life they apparently experienced. Half the race became obsessed with immortality one way, half the other.

Ynnead is clearly more akin to the Chaos Gods in terms of its creation, that of souls and emotion rather than personality and life and so would be unlikely to be able to manifest in the same manner as the old Eldar Gods did.



These are fairly rushed thoughts, so feel free to pick holes. One doesn't refine theories without having them first challenged and thought out. ;)

Discuss. :)

Iracundus
27-11-2007, 07:26
There isn't any evidence to think the Eldar gods were fundamentally different from the Chaos gods. The Avatars of the 40K present only represent a small fraction of Khaine.The manifestation of Khaine during the War in Heaven could just as easily be explained as a more powerful Avatar, containing a greater portion of Khaine. To the Eldar, and as told in their tales, a sufficiently powerful Avatar of Khaine might well be taken for Khaine in his entirety. Even if the Eldar were aware, they might still call the Avatar Khaine for the same reasons that Nurgle followers call Great Unclean Ones Nurgle.

LordXaras
27-11-2007, 09:35
I , too, am a supporter of this theory of Old One Ascension. They were the first race to master the Warp, and at the time of the War in Heaven the essence of the Warp was still relatively calm.

Now, regarding their physical manifestations during the War in Heaven, only Khaine and Vaul are described as interacting with matter directly. I believe that these two gods saw that their skills would be needed to assist the Eldar in their growth, so they prepared a means to continue interaction with the Materium after their ascension. It is possible that they created psychomechanical bodies for themselves (around this time they also gave the Eldar the Wraith constructs), or even that Vaul himself created a vessel not only for himself but also smithed a number of Avatars for Khaine.

The strongest evidence for the ascension theory I feel is when Xenology is taken into account. The Old Ones are quite clearly identified with the deities of several young races (notably the Eldar and Hrud), and at the same time other sources reference Slaanesh and Khorne's claims to Khaine's essence.

There is obviously a duality here: Slaanesh has dibs on all Eldar souls, and apparently felt he had rights to consume the Eldar Pantheon as well. All the same, in his ascension - Khaine became War Personified, thus up for grabs by Khorne.

I suppose one could see it as if, after the Ascension, the Old Ones had surrendered to be dependent on Eldar worship, and that the Eldar abandoning their gods for hedonism was what really killed them all...

I could ramble on, but I'm not sure of how relevant to the topic it'd be.

DantesInferno
27-11-2007, 11:15
To run a compromise line between Iracundus and Inquisitor Engel's differing versions:

Suppose that the Eldar Gods started out as Old Ones, existing in the physical universe. A particularly warlike one became Khaine, a cunning one became Vaul, and so on. However, once they ascended to become Warp entities in the proper sense, claims of personal identity get a lot more complicated (as they do for similar reasons with the Chaos Gods, but that is perhaps an issue for another topic).

For once you become a Warp God, formed by the swirling masses of emotion and soul-energy in the Warp, is it really useful to talk about a "you" anymore? The very stuff that "you" are comprised of is the emotions of sentient races, and they produce "your" character, "your" actions and "your" impacts on the physical world in a very deterministic way. To assign free will to a Warp God in this way seems a bit like assigning consciousness to the Internet. If they started out as Old Ones, it becomes a bit of a moot point once they're being shaped, and their actions being determined, by the emotions of sentient life.

So, to put it another way: once the Old Ones ascended to become Warp Gods (if indeed they did), it would have started up a continuous cycle of feedback: the emotions of the Eldar affect the constitution of the Warp, which affects the characters and dispositions of their Gods, which affects the actions they make, which affects the realspace situation, which affects the emotions of the Eldar, and so on.

Temmy
27-11-2007, 15:56
I believe that the Old Ones formed the psychological seed around which the Eldar Gods were created. Stories about the Old ones created a commonality of mind within the highly psychic eldar. This created discrete curdles of energy within the warp that developed into the eldar gods. Thus memories of the deeds a certain Old one created a commonality of mind which lead to the creation of a warp power based on the legends of this Old One. In time, the deeds of this old one and the deeds of the warp power would become co-mingled in the minds of the Eldar until they become one in the same, even though they are seperate entities.

Mechanicus
27-11-2007, 16:09
I also follow this line of thought, though for me the first thought leading to this was the "Greatest of the Soul-Dancers" quote, in reference to Cegorach in the GW Dawn of the C'tan article. Obviously, the Liber Chaotica Slaanesh supports the idea of warp entity gods, so no problem there!

I have to admit that Inquisitor Engel, LordXaras and DantesInferno have all described it better than I ever could. :D

I have also considered the idea that (as implied in Xenology) perhaps the 'Eldar' pantheon was shared by the majority of Old One second generation races (Eldar, Rashan, K'nib, Hrud, etc) whilst the third generation races (Orks, Jokaero, etc) had one or two of their own (First generation being merely the 'uplifted' races before the War). The second generation races would each have one or two of their number ascended into warp entity form, around which the collected souls and emotions of the Eldar agglomerated (conglomerated?). The third generation would have had just those one or two warp entities rather than the many, though I am undecided whether this theory has enough merit to it.

Inquisitor Engel
27-11-2007, 20:45
The second generation races would each have one or two of their number ascended into warp entity form, around which the collected souls and emotions of the Eldar agglomerated (conglomerated?). The third generation would have had just those one or two warp entities rather than the many, though I am undecided whether this theory has enough merit to it.

I was, unfortunately, unable to get a copy of Xenology which tears my heart to bits. :(

I don't think the Second Generation races would have had had their own numbers raised, but by the time they were created the Warp was a much more tempestuous place than before, probably making it easier for their own species to create Gods of their own. I also think that if they were indeed forcefully elevated, they'd be more like daemons than gods proper. (But then again, sufficient technology is akin to magic, ergo...)

Of course this boils down to the old RT Era idea that the Chaos Gods are human-specific Gods, with the minor exception of Slaanesh, who formed apparently because there was no ready-made Eldar God of excess and debauchery. That's another question entirely and has, apparently, been abandoned as an idea - as well as the minor Chaos pantheon. :( (Even the Chaos Raptors reference was dropped this time around)

Hellebore
27-11-2007, 22:37
I don't see them as ascended, because I don't think they would need to be. If the eldar soul can survive in the warp conscious and intact, and the human shamans of old could do the same thing, why not a puissiant Old One?

They wouldn't need to do anything except prevent their reincarnation, or perhaps just let their soul become seperated from their corporeal form.

I'm not sure whether I came up with it, or I saw someone else pose the idea, but an interesting concept is that the old ones were warp entities that 'grew' corporeal forms just as a corporeal sentient creature 'grows' a soul.

That way, they've ALWAYS been warp entities, they just decided to stop appearing in avatars.

Hellebore

Inquisitor Engel
28-11-2007, 03:09
I'm not sure whether I came up with it, or I saw someone else pose the idea, but an interesting concept is that the old ones were warp entities that 'grew' corporeal forms just as a corporeal sentient creature 'grows' a soul.

Interesting idea, but given what we know about the early warp and that period in galactic history (and we know far less than we do know, admittedly) it just doesn't jive - The Old Ones are specifically stated as having evolved around the same time as the Necrontyr, the first two races in history (that we're aware of).

Also, the warp at that time was completely calm, serene. Without any warp entities (ie. vortices) existing, there would be nothing to grow into those physical bodies.

It is a neat idea though, I just think we know just too much to discredit it - not that we've had things come out and fly in the face of everything we've known previously. ;)

Kage2020
28-11-2007, 03:27
I work on the principle that the Eldar Gods are, in fact, ascended Old Ones.
I disagree with this hypothesis. :D


This comes as a compromise between my own ferverant belief that the Eldar Gods were Warp Entities.
I believe this as well. I don't see throwing up the Old Ones as Eldar Gods to be a compromise, but then again I also find Xenology's thrice damned tablet to be at best a bastardisation.


There's also a good portion of 3rd person (ie things written without an in-universe perspective) evidence that they're the Old Ones.
The gods are always ancient; old; coming before. Because they are "old" doesn't make them the Old Ones.


A lot of the text in Codex: Necrons refers to the Old Ones up until the Eldar enter the scene and then the Eldar Gods take on much the same role...
All of which can be explained without the Old Ones being actual "warp gods."


So how to reconcile these two seemingly independent theories?
For me? The same way I did the last time. ;)


...and given that Daemon Princes are forcefully elevated mortals...
There's nothing about "force" involved. With that said, it is a definite truth that a "daemon prince" is something to be considered in this whole schema, and indeed something that hasn't been substantially considered before.


We also know the Eldar Gods are fundamentally somehow different from the Chaos Gods in that they physically manifested themselves in the materium, multiple times.
No, we don't know anything. We assume. The tools that GW hand us are not that precise. After all, I can point to the term "Avatar of Khorne" in the somewhat tedious novel, Storm of Iron, as being something similar.

Thus, I disagree.


We know the Emperor is capable of doing the exact same thing, its his inability to combine both his warp presence and his life essence (kept alive by the Golden Throne) due to the Golden Throne, thus, no Numen.
Supposition again, seemingly.


Ynnead is clearly more akin to the Chaos Gods in terms of its creation, that of souls and emotion rather than personality and life...
Again, does that not seem limited...?


These are fairly rushed thoughts, so feel free to pick holes.
I disagree with almost all of the, but it's great to see one of these posts back on Warseer. Reminds me of the good 'ole days of Portent. :D


There isn't any evidence to think the Eldar gods were fundamentally different from the Chaos gods.
Except, as Engel says, they are represented as acting in a way that the 40k 'fluff' doesn't allow the Chaos Gods to act.


The manifestation of Khaine during the War in Heaven could just as easily be explained as a more powerful Avatar, containing a greater portion of Khaine.
That's how I tend to do it but, well, I'm a heretic. ;)

...I'm going to have to skip now. Too tired to coherently comment...

Kage

Hellebore
28-11-2007, 03:49
Interesting idea, but given what we know about the early warp and that period in galactic history (and we know far less than we do know, admittedly) it just doesn't jive - The Old Ones are specifically stated as having evolved around the same time as the Necrontyr, the first two races in history (that we're aware of).

Also, the warp at that time was completely calm, serene. Without any warp entities (ie. vortices) existing, there would be nothing to grow into those physical bodies.

It is a neat idea though, I just think we know just too much to discredit it - not that we've had things come out and fly in the face of everything we've known previously. ;)

The warp was serene, but then supposedly so where the old ones. They were cold blooded and emotionless according to the necron codex, which would explain why they could manipulate the warp without causing any ripples but no one else could.

However, that also makes it very hard to justify an emotionless cold blooded old one becoming the firey god of murder and war for the eldar, or indeed any chaos god, precisely because they are built on emotions.

I'm pretty sure though that the necron codex in the section on the enslaver plague describes the warp as having 'natural' predators (suggesting an actual biota) that were altered by the influx of emotions and souls.

I don't think it literally meant that the warp had absolutely nothing in it (enslavers had to come from somewhere) but that it had no EMOTION/SOUL constructs in it.

Of course, I don't necessarily believe that they were warp entities either, but it is an interesting concept.

hellebore

Inquisitor Engel
28-11-2007, 15:14
Methinks we've discovered some holes in GW's idea of the warp. :p

Someone over in the HP Lovecraft thread pointed out that the Warp has a HPL Mythos "feel" to it, and whilst we've seen HPL's influence elsewhere in 40k I'm not sure if it does apply directly to the warp, if it did though we might be looking at something entirely different. The Gods of HPL being nothing more than highly evolved and truly ancient enemies.

I stand by my idea though. :) Kage knows I make concrete assumptions based on suppositional evidence. :p

LordXaras
28-11-2007, 18:16
However, that also makes it very hard to justify an emotionless cold blooded old one becoming the firey god of murder and war for the eldar, or indeed any chaos god, precisely because they are built on emotions.


I'll give my take on things to answer this.

I believe that Khaine was a sort of commander for the Old Ones in the War in Heaven, directing Old Ones and their child races against the Necrontyr. As the number of lesser races grew, so did the number of combatants being influenced by Khaine's leadership. Several races would have been trained under the tutelage of Khaine himself, and then he would draw them into the battle.

The use of lesser races as weapons might have seemed heartless to those races that took heavy losses, especially as this heartless general could hardly care less if you or your genetic kin died in the most horrible way possible.

As the Old Ones became one with the Warp, the feelings of the lesser races would have imprinted on their warp essences. Even if Khaine's actions were completely logical and necessary for the survival of his own race, the young races saw him as the embodiment of war and murder.

Am I making sense?

Brother Siccarius
28-11-2007, 18:26
There isn't any evidence to think the Eldar gods were fundamentally different from the Chaos gods. The Avatars of the 40K present only represent a small fraction of Khaine.The manifestation of Khaine during the War in Heaven could just as easily be explained as a more powerful Avatar, containing a greater portion of Khaine. To the Eldar, and as told in their tales, a sufficiently powerful Avatar of Khaine might well be taken for Khaine in his entirety. Even if the Eldar were aware, they might still call the Avatar Khaine for the same reasons that Nurgle followers call Great Unclean Ones Nurgle.

Then there's also the question of how the Laughing God tricked the outsider if he's only a warp entity, as he has no known avatars like Khaine does to manifest. It's also mentioned that he manifests, which was how he tricked the outsider, but, again, without an avatar.

The Siccarius "Self-Fulfilling Prophecy" Theory of Mortal Ascension: We know that, for the most part, the Old Ones could manipulate the warp. We also know that every being has a signature in the warp unless they're Pariahs (in which case they manifest in the warp as a black hole), and that those who can easily manipulate the warp (Psykers/Farseers/ect.) have a larger signature in the warp.
Now, say that someone dies for you, believing whole heartedly that you should be worshiped. What if the souls of those that died for you as their deity congregated around your soul as a response to their belief in you godhood, much as how a soul of a Chaos worshiper might be drawn to a chaos god in the warp. Now, once you get enough of the soul coalescing around your soul in the warp, it's like having your own little private spring of energy to draw on as a psyker, as all psyker energy comes from the warp, and hence it comes from the swirl of emotions and souls in the warp.
Now, while you're alive, this is simply an amazing boost to your psyker powers, and can elevate you to near godlike proportions, but when you die it doesn't stop, in fact it might actually pick up speed. When you die your soul detaches from your body and you float free in the warp, however, the souls of those that died for you as their deity are still there, and possibly still coming. As more and more souls coalesce around yours you have an amazing power potential at your grasp, leading you to become a god in your own right.

Now, this would still be an exceedingly rare phenomena as the psykers of most known races jump between being pitied and being abhorred. It also goes along with the idea of the Eldar Gods previously being Old Ones. Did it not seem odd to anyone that, for a race who actually met their creators, they had a god that they attributed with their creation? Seemingly justifying that the Eldar gods might be Old Ones or beings that they met and felt were worthy of worship.

DantesInferno
28-11-2007, 21:25
The warp was serene, but then supposedly so where the old ones. They were cold blooded and emotionless according to the necron codex, which would explain why they could manipulate the warp without causing any ripples but no one else could.

However, that also makes it very hard to justify an emotionless cold blooded old one becoming the firey god of murder and war for the eldar, or indeed any chaos god, precisely because they are built on emotions.


I'll give my take on things to answer this.

I believe that Khaine was a sort of commander for the Old Ones in the War in Heaven, directing Old Ones and their child races against the Necrontyr. As the number of lesser races grew, so did the number of combatants being influenced by Khaine's leadership. Several races would have been trained under the tutelage of Khaine himself, and then he would draw them into the battle.

The use of lesser races as weapons might have seemed heartless to those races that took heavy losses, especially as this heartless general could hardly care less if you or your genetic kin died in the most horrible way possible.

As the Old Ones became one with the Warp, the feelings of the lesser races would have imprinted on their warp essences. Even if Khaine's actions were completely logical and necessary for the survival of his own race, the young races saw him as the embodiment of war and murder.

This is what I was trying to get at earlier. Suppose an individual gains a considerable amount of soul-energy in the warp, causing them to "ascend" into the Warp (or alternatively an existing warp creature draws a considerable amount of soul-energy to itself. Once the individual has done so, their own identity and desires, for all intents and purposes, cease to exist. It's the warp entity whose characteristics we're interested in, and these characteristics are shaped by the quality of soul-energy which is being absorbed by the deity in question. For instance, the Imperium's Emperor has risen to becoming a warp god in the 41st millennium. However, the original characteristics of the Emperor, as he was when he was alive, are by now completely irrelevant. They've been entirely overridden by the emotions and souls of billions of humans over 10 000 years. It's this energy what determines what "the Emperor" is like in M41, and it's entirely possible that the range of emotions encompassed by the Emperor-warp-vortex has changed significantly over the 10 000 year period.

Likewise, who knows what Khorne may have started off as. But it's the emotions of rage and anger which form the Khorne-warp-vortex which give the warp god "Khorne" his angry character.

And so it's the same for the Old Ones. They may have started off as emotionless, cold-blooded creatures, but when they became Warp entities, their characters were shaped by the emotions of the races worshipping them. As the Eldar became more warlike and violent, so did Khaine, until he came to be the personification of the warlike nature of the Eldar.

El_Machinae
29-11-2007, 17:43
It's like adding memories and experiences to someone. Take a regular bloke, and put them in an environment where they're exposed to the horrors of war for an extended basis. The bloke will fundamentally change over time, even though we'd still think of him as the same person.

The influx of soul-energy into the Emperor's jurisdiction will be molded by what's already there, but the inputs will still cause a change.

Inquisitor Engel
30-11-2007, 23:14
Then there's also the question of how the Laughing God tricked the outsider if he's only a warp entity, as he has no known avatars like Khaine does to manifest.

Avatars are post-fall artefacts and have absolutely nothing to do with the War in Heaven, they are but splinters. Cergorach managed to manifest himself directly, fully. As did, in my belief, Isha, Vaul, Khaine and Kurnous.


The Siccarius "Self-Fulfilling Prophecy" Theory of Mortal Ascension:

Love it. It makes quite a bit of sense as well. With some slight revisions you have an excellent idea on your hands there.

Now, what happens if someone dies for a Pariah? ;)


Now, this would still be an exceedingly rare phenomena as the psykers of most known races jump between being pitied and being abhorred. It also goes along with the idea of the Eldar Gods previously being Old Ones. Did it not seem odd to anyone that, for a race who actually met their creators, they had a god that they attributed with their creation? Seemingly justifying that the Eldar gods might be Old Ones or beings that they met and felt were worthy of worship.

This of course brings into question how the Old Ones presented themselves to the races they were uplifting - did they say "Oh, hey we're not gods, let me show you how to work this Shuriken catapault" or did they play along?

Brother Siccarius
01-12-2007, 00:16
This of course brings into question how the Old Ones presented themselves to the races they were uplifting - did they say "Oh, hey we're not gods, let me show you how to work this Shuriken catapault" or did they play along?

The way I figure, it wouldn't matter. People will worship and die for things and ideas that don't remotely involve themselves in worship. If the Old Ones denied divinity it wouldn't be any different than what the Emperor was trying to do by denying his divinity. People will believe it even when it's denied, disproved, or dead.

Now, there's also some additional references to the Eldar Pantheon being the Old Ones, mainly through the lack there-of. Now, in all the places you'd expect the Eldar to talk about the Old Ones and their achievements it would have been through the War in Heaven, when Old Ones fought the necrotyr. You'd expect some allusion to them being there or fighting alongside the Eldar. But there isn't, they're noticeably lacking from the Eldar's perspective of the fight. They just aren't there. However, we do see them talking about the Eldar Pantheon fighting the necrons, forging weapons, leading armies, creating warriors, and doing all of the things we'd expect to see the Old Ones to be doing in that time.

DantesInferno
01-12-2007, 02:05
Cergorach managed to manifest himself directly, fully. As did, in my belief, Isha, Vaul, Khaine and Kurnous.

Well, maybe. The Eldar certainly think so, anyway.

But for a warp god, the difference between complete manifestation and, say, the manifestation of a really powerful Greater Daemon is just a question of degree.

Or it could be something else entirely. "The Laughing God tricked the Outsider" could just be another way of saying "The Laughing God, acting in the physical world through his agents the Harlequins, tricked the Outsider".

Brother Siccarius
01-12-2007, 02:20
If the above assumption that the old ones are/were the Eldar Pantheon is correct, then it would also make it easier to explain the Laughing God tricking the outsider, as he would have been able to actually be there to manipulate him/her/it.

Kage2020
01-12-2007, 04:52
Aye, but it's not necessary. Thus you can believe in the premise of actual, physical and total manifestation of a god... or you cannot. Either works. In my mind, the former tends to require that you believe in the inherent difference between 'now' and 'then,' but given GW's proclivity for writing about the thematically (if not actual) halcyon days of the past...?

Again, for me, though? I like my gods in the heavens, manipulating the material realms. Then again, I also believe that there is a difference between a greater daemon and an avatar, but there we go.

Kage

FrankManic
01-12-2007, 07:26
The warp was serene, but then supposedly so where the old ones. They were cold blooded and emotionless according to the necron codex, which would explain why they could manipulate the warp without causing any ripples but no one else could.

However, that also makes it very hard to justify an emotionless cold blooded old one becoming the firey god of murder and war for the eldar, or indeed any chaos god, precisely because they are built on emotions.

The Eldar, early in there existence, were subject to a series of vicious and ruinous wars. War elicits strong emotion in those capable of experiencing emotion, which the Eldar are, and strong emotions shape the Warp. The eldar gods might then be the echoes of the first wars of the Eldar in the days of the Old ones.

Another thought. Tzeentch seeks to further strange and unknown goals. Khorne seeks and enternity of violence and bloodshed. Nurgle... sort of makes people feel sad, i guess. I dunno, he doesn't fit the model. Slanesh drives it's followers to seek pleasure. The Chaos gods are, more than any other force in the universe, ideally suited to the opposition and destruction of the Necrontyr and the C'tan. Their agents deal in the stuff of the warp and carry it with them into the materium. Through the warp the Gods of chaos border on omniscience. Perhaps Chaos is the result of the War in Heaven, some weapon of the Old Ones set to oppose the material C'tan throughout time?

Another question that might bear on this topic is the nature and origin of the T'au. The Tau have almost no presence in the warp and it is difficult for demons even to see Tau. The origin of the Tau is mysterious in the extreme and the question of how their Aun manage to maintain control over their society remains.