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Cosmocrat
07-12-2007, 01:42
I always find it a bit difficult to suspend my disbelief when it comes to the Eldar. They are just like tall, thin humans. I wish an effort had been made to make them just a tad bit more alien.

Clockwork-Knight
07-12-2007, 01:52
Well, seeing as Warhammer 40.000 is nothing more than Warhammer Fantasy Battle set in Space, and the Eldar are simply Elves in Outer Space, you'll have problems in depicting them as more alien, without going too far away from their elven inspiration.

Pandir
07-12-2007, 03:07
Well they are pretty alien being highly psychic and making stuff out of odd stuff like wraithbone they just have to look humans cause they are space elves after all.

Kage2020
07-12-2007, 03:54
The problem is never in making them alien, but in making them believably alien, which is not something that GW has ever been able to do. Well, IMHO, of course. I also believe that they've been hamstrung by their own approach (everything is an exception to everything else, you have to leave enough latitude such that every fan can create their own 'unique army', etc.)

To be able to relate to them in a reasonable fashion - other than the sidekick race that they've somewhat ironically been relegated to despite the "humans with pointy ears" approach - we also have to empathise to a certain degree. Thus we cannot make them too alien... ;)

Kage

Battle_Brother
07-12-2007, 15:13
Or maybe they are just alien enough - I mean, I think I got them figured out, but I know in my heart that I really don't, that their methods and means are quiet beyond my comprehension.

And yeah, they do just look like pointy-eared humans.

Chilltouch
07-12-2007, 15:19
I believe there was another version of the Eldar that gave them a second knee where their shin is, allowing them to flex their feet about however they wish.
Also, more ideas have been spawned of Eldar bones and hair being made out of psychoreactive compounds or even Wraithbone.

I guess it depends how you look at them. If you look at them in certain books, they seem like particularily elegant humans. In other books, they are tall, inhumanly shaped creatures with twisted angular faces and pitch black eyes.

Battle_Brother
07-12-2007, 15:26
Also, more ideas have been spawned of Eldar bones and hair being made out of psychoreactive compounds or even Wraithbone.


So if the eldar craftworlds are made out of the same compound as the eldar themselves, that would mean they are alive...

That's it! That's how the Eldar are going to win the day! The craftworlds are all different variations on Unicron!

Kage2020
07-12-2007, 15:55
I believe there was another version of the Eldar that gave them a second knee where their shin is, allowing them to flex their feet about however they wish.
You refer to Philip Sibbering's "True Eldar," his own fan creation for the 40k universe that you can find at his website: www.philipsibbering.net (http://www.philipsibbering.net). Just click on the "40k Concepts" section to see his much-improved (in terms of look) page.

The "True Eldar" never did anything for me, but I really love his interpretation of an Eldar spaceship, since I have always felt that the "solar sails" is one of those cool ideas that was never truly thought out.


Also, more ideas have been spawned of Eldar bones and hair being made out of psychoreactive compounds or even Wraithbone.
That's a common interpretation from Xenology and, while I would personally agree that wraithbone is a part of Eldar physiology (a technological basis that works hand-in-hand with the psychogenic aspects of the Waystone), I personally never went down the "artificial bone" concept. Thus, for me, Eldar flexiblity and light-weight bone essentially comes from having a skeletal structure that draws inspiration from that of shark skeletons.

But there we go. That's just me.


In other books, they are tall, inhumanly shaped creatures with twisted angular faces and pitch black eyes.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder... and whether they're quivering and scrambling in terror on the ground as an Eldar looms over them with bloody-sword in hand. ;)

Kage

Shibboleth
07-12-2007, 15:58
They only seem like 'humans with pointy ears', because they're excercising so much self control over their innate, 'alien'-ly heightened emotions.
If they don't restrain themselves to such a level, by sticking to their Paths, etc, then the consequences are dire... ;)

Cirrus the Blue
07-12-2007, 16:17
The problem is never in making them alien, but in making them believably alien, which is not something that GW has ever been able to do. Well, IMHO, of course. I also believe that they've been hamstrung by their own approach (everything is an exception to everything else, you have to leave enough latitude such that every fan can create their own 'unique army', etc.)

To be able to relate to them in a reasonable fashion - other than the sidekick race that they've somewhat ironically been relegated to despite the "humans with pointy ears" approach - we also have to empathise to a certain degree. Thus we cannot make them too alien... ;)

Kage

It's the whole Star Trek *everyone in the universe looks identical* unrealisticness that I completely agree with you upon. lol Still, it's never bugged me before for very long on the subject of Eldar, so, meh. *shrug*

- Cirrus

Cirrus the Blue
07-12-2007, 16:19
So if the eldar craftworlds are made out of the same compound as the eldar themselves, that would mean they are alive...

That's it! That's how the Eldar are going to win the day! The craftworlds are all different variations on Unicron!

Ah, but there-in lies the rub. GW took out all the Craftworld rules in the last codex! They're all doomed!!!! :(

- Cirrus

Supremearchmarshal
07-12-2007, 16:40
It's simple: when Warhammer 40k was created it was an almost direct port of WH fantasy to a SF universe. 40k has evolved since then and has moved away from this image (though of course fantasy influences are still strong and readily visible). If they released the Eldar now you bet they'd be a lot less human, but since they've been space elves for 11 years GW can't change it anymore without making their entire existing model range, artwork and much of the fluff obsolete.

Kage2020
07-12-2007, 17:13
Is it just about their physical appearance, though, Supremearchmarshal? I don't think it is, but rather a comment on what little hints that we've been given about their culture and, more importantly, what has been made of the information that we have. Consider, for example, the Eldar Path. It's a potentially fascinating and powerful tool in differentiating the Eldar, but for the most part it seems to be viewed as a simple "career system."

Maybe that's just me, but I don't think that the Eldar need an update in image - to do so would be to deny their origins - but perhaps a little bit (read: a lot) needs to bring the otherwise great WD 127 up to something that is a bit more... defined. More information on their culture, etc.

Kage

Chilltouch
07-12-2007, 17:45
Exactly - almost every single race in 40K is fascinating in its one way. Eldar culture, Space Marine biology, Tau organisation, etc.

I don't mind the Eldar being Space Elves, but with the right persuasion, you could make Eldar look so amazingly alien they make Tau look mundane.

Kandarin
07-12-2007, 18:33
They only seem like 'humans with pointy ears', because they're excercising so much self control over their innate, 'alien'-ly heightened emotions.
If they don't restrain themselves to such a level, by sticking to their Paths, etc, then the consequences are dire... ;)

If that's the case, the Dark Eldar need to be more alien, as opposed to being easily analogous to all-too-human sadists.

Kage2020
07-12-2007, 19:50
I don't mind the Eldar being Space Elves, but with the right persuasion, you could make Eldar look so amazingly alien they make Tau look mundane.
Again, it's not about the "look," for me, but rather moving with the culture. Humans can be just as alien even though they look exactly the same. (I'm not at all fond of Phil's "True Eldar" physiology.)

Erm, assuming that you were talking about physical appearances.

Kage

Chilltouch
07-12-2007, 19:52
I'm good with both - if you look at the Eldar culture in the right way, it's already very alien.

However with the correct description you could make the Eldar sound amazingly alien without having to change any models.

BrotherAdso
07-12-2007, 20:05
Again, it's not about the "look," for me, but rather moving with the culture. Humans can be just as alien even though they look exactly the same. (I'm not at all fond of Phil's "True Eldar" physiology.)

Erm, assuming that you were talking about physical appearances.

Kage

Kage - you might want to remember that 40k is not speculative sci-fi nor hard sci-fi, but fanta-sci-fi. As such, appearance and reality are closely related. The more alien something is, the more this is represented in its appearance.

Even though real life anthropology is fascinating and can show us the incredible range of sociocultural values that can make other humans prettydamn alien, that kind of subtley is of VERY limited use in the 40k universe.

Phil's Eldar Physiology, though, makes nonsense of the fall -- their souls are in little danger from the Fall, and the tempations of the Fall themselves need to be reimagined if it is true. On the other hand, trying to explain how they can look so human and act or be so totally alien is well done in his universe.

Thoughts?

-Adso

Kage2020
07-12-2007, 20:34
Kage - you might want to remember that 40k is not speculative sci-fi nor hard sci-fi, but fanta-sci-fi.
Do you not believe that the universe is what you make of it? Clearly the designers are wanting to get more "bang for their buck" by expanding into areas outside of the wargame, i.e. fiction and RPG, so it would seem that it is reaching into the speculative areas. And while 40k is "future fantasy," that is not to say that you cannot draw from the real world for inspiration, especially when the product is lacking in depth, which is clearly the case for the Eldar.

That's for me, though. I'm arguing from my own preferences, rather than necessarily the one that GW seems to advocate. It's one of the reasons that I first mentioned "Rule of Cool" (aka Style over Substance), and one of the reasons that we look through an artwork and see "gothic architecture," people carrying disproportionate weapons, etc.


As such, appearance and reality are closely related. The more alien something is, the more this is represented in its appearance.
If that's what does it for you, then great. As someone that has almost zero interest in the wargame, and indeed sometimes finds it more of a shackle to creativity than anything else, the more... cerebral approaches are where the main interest is at. For me.

Does this mean that this is going to be adopted by GW? Well, who knows what is going to happen depending on the success of their 40k RPG. In many ways, RPG demands a bit more in terms of background information than might be necessary for the wargame. At least arguably.


...that kind of subtley is of VERY limited use in the 40k universe.
For the above reasons and preferences, I'm obviously going to disagree with this. I like my product to have both style and substance. :D (Not saying that 40k is necessarily lacking in substance. It's just a phrase to try and bring over the idea that, in my mind at least, more information and less artwork with gargantuan chain axe-wielding chaos space marines is needed. Though to be fair that can be cool as well...)

Kage

Commander Dante
07-12-2007, 20:37
im assuming in the RPG you a inquisitor....

BrotherAdso
07-12-2007, 20:46
Do you not believe that the universe is what you make of it? ...reaching into the speculative areas. And while 40k is "future fantasy..."

The Universe is what you make of it in the same way that one can prepare chicken in any number of ways, but one cannot transmute it into duck. The 40k world is very flexible, but it has a certain established set of stylistic tendencies and fluff canon pieces that provide a 'baseline'. This is why one would never see Star Trek analouges in 40k -- starch uniforms, perky humanism, and clean beam weapons don't fit the aesthetic.

Similarly, a race which has a HUGE imagery-reality gap (like the Eldar you propose) doesn't fit with the aesthetic.



If that's what does it for you, then great. As someone that has almost zero interest in the wargame, and indeed sometimes finds it more of a shackle to creativity than anything else, the more... cerebral approaches are where the main interest is at. For me.


I play only rarely, and paint only slightly more. The universe is also my primary interest. However, the universe is informed by the wargame in some very substantial ways -- like the image - reality connection detailed above. This is NOT irreconcilable with cerebral approaches, or even subtle ones -- it just determines some creative limits. Think of this as analogous to why a great sonnet is more challenging but more fulfilling than great blank verse. Form gives shape and challenge.

Thus, I think working with the current imagery of Eldar and the current cultural givens, but taking them in interesting directions and depths is more rewarding than making them into an excercize in xeno-comparative-cultural-studies.



Does this mean that this is going to be adopted by GW? Well, who knows what is going to happen depending on the success of their 40k RPG. In many ways, RPG demands a bit more in terms of background information than might be necessary for the wargame. At least arguably.


Absolutely. I'm looking forward to the game quite a bit....but also don't overestimate the depth required for an RPG, or the 'universality' of that. From what I've seen, they are going for an exceptionalist approach rather than a microcosmic one.

Would you mind paraphrasing or linking YOUR version of the alien-ness of the Eldar, so we can start a substantive discussion on that?

-Adso

Kage2020
07-12-2007, 20:48
Actually, no. You're a pleb -- one of the lesser minions of the Inquisitor (i.e. acolytes). You can learn more about it from the BL Publishing website, I believe.

I'm just going to have to wait for the product, though, since from what I've heard I'm not sure whether it's going to be okay, or atrocious (for what I would want). It has, however, been well received by the playtesters and, apparently, people at various game conferences. Make of that what you will.


The 40k world is very flexible, but it has a certain established set of stylistic tendencies and fluff canon pieces that provide a 'baseline'.
There are certain pieces of background that I believe to be - in Kage-verse, at least - true, and certain other pieces of background that I would consider to be unquestionable (insofar as everything can be questioned, but I probably wouldn't change anything). There are certain images from the published material that have more power for me, but that doesn't mean that I see every single starships as being grimy and oily, with flea-ridden shiprats in every corner.


Similarly, a race which has a HUGE imagery-reality gap (like the Eldar you propose) doesn't fit with the aesthetic.
I think that you're going to have to expand on what you mean by "imagery-reality" gap. It seems that you're saying that any rationalised approach to the Eldar is automatically going to increase the distance between the Imagery of the 40k universe and the final product? Thus any expanded interpretation that draws upon the real world as a means of helping to increase the depth of understanding, or even offer a framework of interpretation, with regards to the Eldar would increase this divide?

In some ways it seems to me that this comes down to the Eldar solar sail question. It's an ingrained part of the aesthetic, but it's also "rationally" silly. You're saying, though, that you can simply throw out the idea that the Eldar use the solar wind for to push their ships along because it is such an "integral" part of that aesthetic?

Hmmn... Maybe another example/question. If you didn't see the Imperium as being basically "medieval Europe in space," your breaking the imagery and therefore also arguing for not-40k?

I can see the argument, and indeed GW has used it themselves, but I find its application a bit strange since it seems that one of the reasons - or at least common justifications - for the state of the 'fluff' is that it has to remain flexible. Thus inflexibility of image seems paradoxical in that light, even though I agree that there are certain things that one assumes with the 40k universe.

Hmmn... Consider the approach to Marine physiology. Myself and Phil and have two radically different approaches with regards to this (up to and including that he actually has substantial talent at art, while I'm like an "anti-artist" - we'd probably mutually annihilate if we ever met in real life!). Phil seems to have taken the Marine model and artwork, then shaped the Marine inside to fit the armour. I, on the other hand, prefer to shape the armour to fit what I would consider a reasonable Marine.

Is this the kind of thing that you're getting at? Both are ultimately Marines, but you would be more familiar with Phil's power armour when compared against the imagery (kind of easy for him since he draws it! ;)) than "my" power armour, which is a bit skinnier?


This is NOT irreconcilable with cerebral approaches, or even subtle ones -- it just determines some creative limits.
Hey, I was just checking how extreme your argument was.


Thus, I think working with the current imagery of Eldar and the current cultural givens, but taking them in interesting directions and depths is more rewarding than making them into an excercize in xeno-comparative-cultural-studies.
And this, for me, is going a bit beyond what I would personally attempt. One has to keep within the broad "framework" of 40k, of course. Yet I wouldn't have too much problem with a bit of a better analysis of Eldar physiology than was presented in Xenology. It might even involve real world biology, but that doesn't mean that it is defined by that or anywhere "anti-imagery.")


Absolutely. I'm looking forward to the game quite a bit....but also don't overestimate the depth required for an RPG, or the 'universality' of that. From what I've seen, they are going for an exceptionalist approach rather than a microcosmic one.
Indeed. The whole narrativist theming of the game is one of the reasons that I'm less excited about the product. It's not, "Play in the 40k universe," but "Play in a limited, company defined interpretation of the 40k universe."


Would you mind paraphrasing or linking YOUR version of the alien-ness of the Eldar, so we can start a substantive discussion on that?
Hey, I make no claims about relative "alien-ness" for mine, just that it doesn't quite assume so many "human-like" qualities. But it's in the Anargo Sector archive, and there's a link to it in another thread... Cannot find it at the moment, though.

Kage

Idaan
07-12-2007, 20:57
It's the whole Star Trek *everyone in the universe looks identical* unrealisticness that I completely agree with you upon. lol Still, it's never bugged me before for very long on the subject of Eldar, so, meh. *shrug*
But does Star Trek universe have the original Creator Race, such as the Old Ones in Warhammer? Because the Old Ones designed a good deal of all humanoid-shaped races: Eldar, Jokaero, Orks, Hrud, Humans and probably Tau and Kroot. If all of them were designed by one race it's not that weird. When humans design robots or fictional aliens they also create them in their own image.

Though the depiction of their psyche really needs changing.

Clockwork-Knight
07-12-2007, 21:17
But does Star Trek universe have the original Creator RaceYeah, they had. They had even one episode to explain why all races in the Star Trek-galaxy looked like humans with strange noses... :p

MrBigMr
07-12-2007, 23:25
Oh, God...
I would so want to say something, but I won't. I can't. Not when Kage is here. He scares me. Half the time I can't understand a word he is saying and the the other half he is wrapping my mind around his spinning little Kage-verse, where everything should be more and better and gay (as in happy, not the other thing).
*weep*
I'll get me coat...


Screw it, I'm drunk enough, so I'm immune to reason.
So. Sometimes I don't understand this 'alien' thing. Ok, so they have different ways of doing things and all that, but what do you mean with 'alien'? What is an 'alien'? Something you cannot understand? In other words we don't know about them. When we know things, we start to understand it. One can say "I don't understand you." But then you sit them down and tell them about yourself, what makes you tick, and suddenly the knowledge makes them understand you more.

We can look at aliens do something completely weird and say "Oh, they're weird, really 'alien', man." But when we gain the knowledge of why they do it, we understand them a little better and they're not that 'alien' anymore. If an alien is intelligent and sentient, no matter in what form it comes in, there is a way to understand it in time. They have motives, reactions to various things, etc. Even single cell organisms can be monitored and behavioral charts made. It doesn't matter if they don't act like us, we can still form an understandable formula on their motives and call it on our words.

It also comes to the theories of Wittgenstein. Basicly, we form mental images to words. So if I say "a red house" you will understand it as you know what a house is and what the color red is (you have seen both) and you might even form a mental picture in your mind. If I say "a four dimensional, ultraviolet house", you'll look at me like I'm crazy. You don't have knowledge on such things. But if I explain what a four dimensional object is and what ultraviolet is, you can form a mental picture about it and understand the thing in later discussions.

By Wittgenstein, words are what limit philosophy and people, because we don't always have words to explain things. So if alien things are something for which we don't have right words, we can use the words we have to form a picture about it. It's like trying to explain a TV to a caveman without "it's a magic bix." It'll take along time, as you have to explain all about eletricity, culture, etc., but in time he'll know what a 'TV' is and all that is related to it.

So what makes aliens so 'alien'?

"Love is a word, what matters is the connection that word implies."
-Rama Chandra, The Matrix Revolutions.


...
My brain hurts.

BrotherAdso
07-12-2007, 23:26
Before I get on topic, I'll get off topic commentary out of the way:


Yeah, they had. They had even one episode to explain why all races in the Star Trek-galaxy looked like humans with strange noses... :p

Actually, that was a pretty damn cool episode. Star Trek TNG, season 6, episode 20, "The Chase". Link: http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/The_Chase.

Although it's a way more optimistic view of why all life was created than "As servants to wage a massive and apocalyptic war for us....whoops, we lose!"

OK. Offtopic out of the way.



Actually, no. You're a pleb -- one of the lesser minions of the Inquisitor (i.e. acolytes). You can learn more about it from the BL Publishing website, I believe.

I knew the player's backgrounds were restricted to humble-to-horrid...didn't know about it's reception thus far though. I'll be getting a copy. I think they're stumbling by not simul-releasing an eBook though, since I dunno how many brick and mortar stores will carry something that minor.


I think that you're going to have to expand on what you mean by "imagery-reality" gap.

I agree, it's a nebulous term, sorry for tossing it at you. What I meant was that in the 40K universe, things are usually as they appear. Hence, the approach you seemed to advocate -- sure, Eldar look, dress, act fairly human, but on the cultural/emotional/social end they're beyond our comprehension -- doesn't stick to that. If the Eldar are to be made more distant from human beings, the dominant way the 40kverse is imagined would dictate their aesthetic become more alien as well.

That said, I think this could be a really cool thing. Playing up the 'techno-organic' theme, the 'witchcraft' theme, and the 'strange and incomprehensible' theme could all do well by this, distancing both the image and the ideology of the Eldar from 'pointy eared people'.


You're saying, though, that you can simply throw out the idea that the Eldar use the solar wind for to push their ships along because it is such an "integral" part of that aesthetic? [QUOTE]

Actually, I'm saying you can't toss it out...though you can certainly tailor it. I love the idea, for example, that the Eldar have special 'starseers' or 'witch-navigators' who concentrate and guide the solar winds, projecting their minds millions of miles into the void and guide the currents of the Warp and the Materium to provide a 'wind' for their vessels.

[QUOTE=Kage2020;2162903]
Hmmn... Maybe another example/question. If you didn't see the Imperium as being basically "medieval Europe in space," your breaking the imagery and therefore also arguing for not-40k?


Well, not a great example, because a big part of the well-established fluff for 40k is the internal diversity of the Imperium, and also because elements of Imperial governance, culture, imagery etc are derived from pre- and post-middle ages stuff. Perhaps a better example would be if one argued that Orks are, in fact, operating according to a greater plan for domination, or recast them in the mold of sophisticated, honorable, but bloodthirsty warriors (like, say, Warcraft's Orcs). This would be arguing for not-40k.


Thus inflexibility of image seems paradoxical in that light, even though I agree that there are certain things that one assumes with the 40k universe.


In the case of the Eldar, I would argue that one of the 'assumed' things is their relative similarity to humanity, at least in simple ways.



Is this the kind of thing that you're getting at? Both are ultimately Marines, but you would be more familiar with Phil's power armour when compared against the imagery (kind of easy for him since he draws it! ;)) than "my" power armour, which is a bit skinnier?


This is very much my idea. That some extremely consistent elements in the 40kverse, like how Marines look, act as immutable rules for the rest of our ideas to grow from. (If you've ever played Nomic, you know what I mean).



Indeed. The whole narrativist theming of the game is one of the reasons that I'm less excited about the product. It's not, "Play in the 40k universe," but "Play in a limited, company defined interpretation of the 40k universe."


Indeed. I think narrativism can be great, but it's better if it's more like a palette. Choose a style of narrative within the 40kverse, then proceed from there. I just hope there are no story points or anything...preserving your character due to special fate or 'Indiana Jones Heroism" is so not 'you will not be missed in the darkness of the far future'.


I'll have to go check out the Sector Project. I've been meaning to....just no time. Crawling towards semester's end...

-Adso

BrotherAdso
07-12-2007, 23:31
So. Sometimes I don't understand this 'alien' thing. Ok, so they have different ways of doing things and all that, but what do you mean with 'alien'? What is an 'alien'? ...
It also comes to the theories of Wittgenstein. ...

By Wittgenstein, words are what limit philosophy and people, because we don't always have words to explain things. So if alien things are something for which we don't have right words, we can use the words we have to form a picture about it....
So what makes aliens so 'alien'?


God bless you sir. I think this forum just gained about 5,000 bonus points for being the only place online a drunk man has ever, to my knowledge, coherently referenced Wittgenstein.

I don't have time now to do this post justice. But I shall return!

And, to sum up what one great author has said regarding your post...



It seems I am trying to tell you a dream...it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any epoch of ones existence. We live, as we dream, alone.
-Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness


-Adso

Kage2020
07-12-2007, 23:59
I think they're stumbling by not simul-releasing an eBook though, since I dunno how many brick and mortar stores will carry something that minor.
Oh, they'll probably get it out there some how. But I agree about the eBook. I was fantastically disappointed that I wouldn't be able to download it since, generally speaking, I don't even bother buying the paper versions anymore. Thus I have the choice of buying a copy of a book that I'm never ever going to use or even look at, or not buying it all and saving myself a not unsubstantial number of dollars...

Put another way? Fast(er) internet for a month, or DH... Hmmn...


I agree, it's a nebulous term, sorry for tossing it at you.
Meh, no worries. I have a history of doing the same. Sometimes they become common use terms, at other times people give me a funny look and metaphorically give me a flick on the ear. C'est la vie.


What I meant was that in the 40K universe, things are usually as they appear.
Following with the rest of your argument, I think it just comes down to the premise that you put a much greater emphasis on the Imagery than I do. For me it is merely a tool that helps in visualising the 40k universe and offering inspiration, but it doesn't really define it. I once said that while a picture might say a thousand words, since each words is contextual, depending on how you arrange those words it can also say ten thousand lies. In other words, it becomes less of what this means, and more what this means to me.

That's just me, though. I have the artistic skill of a decaying lemon, so perhaps that's why I tend to place less direct importance on it.


If the Eldar are to be made more distant from human beings, the dominant way the 40kverse is imagined would dictate their aesthetic become more alien as well.
I can see why you take this stance, but I think it just comes down to the fact that I don't agree. This means that by your definition the gap between 40k and Kage-verse is definitely a widening one, which is fair enough. Heck, I would argue that the gap widens between some of the core concepts of the 40k universe and the 4e publications. Ultimately it comes down to what you prefer and how you arrange them...


Actually, I'm saying you can't toss it out...though you can certainly tailor it.
LOL. I thought so. Strangely, though, I throw out the solar sails (in operation) even though they are a perfect example of 'style over substance,' but keep the essence of the "rules" on them (i.e. slower when you go one direction, faster in another, etc.). I just tie it to gravity since the solar sail thing just sets off my disbelieve klaxon. (The sail is a hand-waved component of this system, such that if it is damaged then the drive drops in efficiency yet again...)

Then again, I have ever had a slight preference to 'sci-fi' than 'fantasy,' thus I tend to view the 40k universe through more a sci-fi lens than anything else. (Though not as extreme as I once used to be!)

For sheer, unadulterated and unapologetic derivative fantasy, I work on the "40kFantasy" concept. (Also over at the ASP, though that is one of the things that I never backed up from the Wiki, so I'm having to go through it again. A shame since the majority of the work on the Wiki for this concept was done by Agmar Strick... but there we go.)


I love the idea, for example, that the Eldar have special 'starseers' or 'witch-navigators' who concentrate and guide the solar winds...
That sounds remarkably cool, but something that I might have to reserve in Kage-verse terms for the 40kFantasy thing.

For me? It's just a lesser version of a "reactionless thruster" drive, the same kind of thing (but obviously not as high powered or efficient) as the Necron propulsion system. Only problem is that it gets less efficient (proportionately) as you get deeper into a gravity well (i.e. you slow down), while the opposite is the case when leaving the gravity well.


Well, not a great example, because a big part of the well-established fluff for 40k is the internal diversity of the Imperium, and also because elements of Imperial governance, culture, imagery etc are derived from pre- and post-middle ages stuff.
One image I am also increasingly less fond of, if only because while there is nothing wrong with the base concept, it is sometimes - just sometimes - applied in a way that I personally find less than interesting. Indeed, when Kate Flack over at the 40k RPG essentially posted that if you're not interested in playing a themed medieval fantasy in space, you might as well "sling yer 'ook" (or, rather, the game might not be for you).


This would be arguing for not-40k.
With orks I would just love not-fungus. ;)


In the case of the Eldar, I would argue that one of the 'assumed' things is their relative similarity to humanity, at least in simple ways.
I stop that, as I believe the original material tried, at external physical similarity. While an Eldar could, in certain circumstances, pass for a human they are most certainly not.


This is very much my idea. That some extremely consistent elements in the 40kverse, like how Marines look, act as immutable rules for the rest of our ideas to grow from.
Except the image of the Marine has changed somewhat. Thus do you refer to the most modern, or the one that you prefer? For me it's like species environmental preference and tolerance. As long as an 'image' is in the tolerance of a given thing - thus is recognisable as a Marine - then it's pretty much fine.


(If you've ever played Nomic, you know what I mean).
Nope, I'm afraid not.


I just hope there are no story points or anything...preserving your character due to special fate or 'Indiana Jones Heroism" is so not 'you will not be missed in the darkness of the far future'.
LOL. A sound-bite that I find as equally annoying as, "In the dark future there is only war and the sound of Dark Gods laughing," or whatever it is. ;) Then again, as mentioned elsewhere, I just don't think that I've ever liked "tag lines" and "sound bites" of this nature. In fact, the only two that I've come across that I like are from Muppets in Space ("Space is not necessarily deep") and Revenge of Swamp Thing ("He's got a grudge, 'cos they turned him into sludge"). That probably says a lot right there. <grin>

Kage

Lord Cook
10-01-2008, 18:19
If I say "a four dimensional, ultraviolet house", you'll look at me like I'm crazy.

Just thought I'd point out that all houses are four dimensional. There are three dimensions of space and one of time. The house has fixed parameters of space, in other words it is x metres wide and has y cubic metres volume, etc. But on top of that it is constantly moving through time, the fourth dimension.

Before you say "But time is a man made concept", no, it isn't. Time can be stopped, reversed and manipulated. Massive gravity wells (black holes) stop time entirely, while objects traveling at sufficiently enormous speeds actually go backwards through time. If you get two atomic clocks (which are 100% accurate), align them so they are in synch with each other and then leave one on the ground and put another one in a space shuttle traveling around the Earth, the one on the shuttle will go slightly slower. It's a dimensional distortion effect.

/Physics rant over

MrBigMr
10-01-2008, 18:38
Before you say "But time is a man made concept", no, it isn't.
No, wasn't going to say anything as stupid as that. I was going to hunt you down, kill you, dress in your skin and discredit you as you.

But seriously, lets look at what you said. See, YOU know how a 4 dimensional boulding would be, but not all do. That's the whole idea of the argument. A person that doesn't understand the meaning of the words, can't form a mental picture of it.

Anyway, seeing the dead walk once again, I'll add a bit that I posted in another thread and which would fit here much better:

It's amazing how people (and by 'people', I mean fanboyz) can't decide what they want. Many scream that aliens need to be more alien, but when you get weird stuff like non-red blood and crystalline poop, it's just wrong. What do you want?!

To tell the truth, I don't see anything wrong with things like Eldar poop. Maybe the wording gave people the impression they excrete solid crystal rods. For one, the smell of ordinary stool is the result of bacteria. I wouldn't put past the Eldar to have a more advanced system that works without a 3rd party in the process (they were made, not evolved after all).

As to the actual form of it, many creatures even in our world have different ways of expending their excrement. Some dispose it in neat packages for example. Crystals aren't just those pretty colored things. It doesn't mean it's solid sharp pieces of glass. Even pearls are made of crystalline calcium carbonate. For a such advanced race, one would assume their digestive system to be able to process nutrients far more effectively than what we have.

Bretonnian Lord
10-01-2008, 21:22
Didn't Eldar exist thousands of years before humans?

Then shouldn't the question be, why are humans so much like Eldar? :eek:

Malevon
10-01-2008, 21:43
The point of Eldar is that they're not very alien. They're a sort of "ghost of Christmas future;" they are what will, in all probability, happen to humanity eventually. They are a warning against decadence, an example of a seemingly unconquerable empire rotting from within. If they were completely alien, it would be difficult to empathize with them.

Furthermore, although Eldar may look fairly human, their thought patterns are quite alien. In several books I've read, humans have a very difficult time communicating with Eldar because Eldar conversation is so alien. Compared to communicating with a fellow human, conversing with an Eldar seems nonlinear and extremely confusing. I would rather have this than different-looking Eldar who are just like humans who look different. In many science fiction settings, the different races are more divergent from one another than in 40k, but they often do not have distinct philosophies.

Chaplain of Chaos
10-01-2008, 21:45
When it comes right down to it Eldar existed first fluffwise, perhaps we where guided along our path to evolve like them?

also that Philip Sibbering stuff is utterly ridiculous and it some cases doesn't even pretend to care what current Canon is lol.

MrBigMr
10-01-2008, 21:48
Evolve? The Eldar doesn't seem to have evolved for the past 60 000 000 years.

Similarities might come from Old One influence or something.

Chaplain of Chaos
10-01-2008, 21:53
No the Eldar haven't evolved, I was talking about HUMAN evolution. Perhaps we where guided to evolve in a similar to the Eldar and thus look similar.

So maybe other races aren't Humanoid, but are in fact Eldaroid.

Bretonnian Lord
11-01-2008, 00:26
Exactly! The plot thickens.... :D

Hellebore
11-01-2008, 00:39
No the Eldar haven't evolved, I was talking about HUMAN evolution. Perhaps we where guided to evolve in a similar to the Eldar and thus look similar.

So maybe other races aren't Humanoid, but are in fact Eldaroid.

Everyone would have to be eldaroid, considering how old the eldar are.

Unless the Old Ones were humanoid, then we are all oldoneoid...



Some ruminations I had years ago about eldar physiology went as follows:

Wraithbone is the material that makes up eldar neurons. An eldar's soul inhabits their body in a much more intimate way than any other creature. Their soul lives inside their nervous system. Their inhuman reflexes are a result of this.

The Eldar skeleton is analagous to the echinoderm hydrostatic skeleton. This provides rigidity and flexibility, enabling an ordinary eldar to follow an aspect and develop techniques that greatly increase their strength (down to control of the hydrostatic skeleton). The solid components are psychoplastics. Thus the soul can influence every part of the body and produce the extremes of physical ability the eldar exhibit.

Their hair is a crystaline structure used as a heat sink. They have no finger nails or toe nails, just finely tapering digits.

Their technology was an offshoot of their medicine - bonesingers were originally literally bone singers.

They adapated the pyschoplastic materials from their own bodies and refined them into the modern forms we see.


Hellebore

downundercadet07
11-01-2008, 02:34
I'm making your ruminations cannonical in my personal 40k universe hellbore!

kikkoman
11-01-2008, 04:29
the 2nd ed codex is pretty much the canon of Eldar for me.


As for what makes them not human... psychologically...

With the Path, they can tightly control their feelings and compartmentalize them. A gardener can slaughter a hundred humans, maybe even enjoy it, when he's in the warrior mindset. He can wonder "oh, I wouldn't even hurt a moonaphid eating my sunroses back on the craftworld!", but he really has no problem ripping humans apart with razor weapons.

A love for war and violence is also something that lurks inside them all. A human would be content as a farmer raising his family and needs to be inspired to go to war. In war, he'll be scared of dying. Fighty humans like the Catachans, they need a hostile environment, warlike culture and lots and lots of punishing nurture to turn them into hardened killers.

Guess you could say for the Eldar, reproduction and safety is second to personal enjoyment, the highest forms being warfare (since its a galaxy of war). Their only remaining god being the (in WHF) Dark Elf God of Murder may reflect this. Isha was kind, Asuryan was just, Khaine is the lord of murder, and only Khaine survives. Oh yeah, the tricky guy too.

Eldar do say they are fighting for their people, for their future though, but I really enjoy the 2nd ed codex story where the Farseer muses sometimes if they really, really just do it because they like it.

They're as different psychologically from humans as orks are.


The very first incarnation of Rogue Trader, the Eldar encountered are violent space pirates that fight for fun.

The very earliest incarnations of WHF, the Elves are mostly lazy and don't care about the rest of the world, with a few crazy ones that kill for sport. They're based off of Michael Moorcock's writing more than Lord of the Rings. Eldar are not LotR elves at all. Or shouldn't be.

*hmmm, extra note, on what makes them seem like pointy eared humans... (so "what makes Eldar NOT Alien?)
female aliens have a tendency to do that. It's safe to say that most of us live in patriarchial societies, so 'male' becomes the default, y'know? So a female Eldar registers as "boobs, woman (human)".
or "this is a woman, but she's blue so she's an alien. Captain Kirk will now be shown putting his boots while getting out of her bed", that does take away some of the alienness.

Sorta like...
werewolf. You probably thought of one without breasts, yeah? But a werewolf with big furry chest bumps, it becomes less 'werewolf monster' and more human.

Like, imagine orks with breasts... or maybe not


eh... I just thought the farseer and harlequin in Dawn of War looked really terrible

Hellebore
11-01-2008, 04:56
Actually I had an idea for what the eldar breast was as well.

As eldar don't have any body fat the breast in the female could be a energy reservoir for gestating the foetus.

Thus in the eldar the breasts grow large before conception (perhaps when they are 'on heat') and if conception occurs they get smaller and smaller until birth.

Thus they aren't just mammary analogues.

Hellebore

Tyron
11-01-2008, 05:07
Interesting idea Hellbore!

Lord Cook
11-01-2008, 14:31
See, YOU know how a 4 dimensional boulding would be, but not all do. That's the whole idea of the argument. A person that doesn't understand the meaning of the words, can't form a mental picture of it.

Very elegantly put dear sir.

FrankManic
11-01-2008, 23:46
I always find it a bit difficult to suspend my disbelief when it comes to the Eldar. They are just like tall, thin humans. I wish an effort had been made to make them just a tad bit more alien.

I think the original idea behind elves was that most of the time, they're almost just like us, except much, much better than us at everything. And occasionally, in times of great difficultly such as during war, humans get a glimpse of how utterly strange and inhuman the immortal elves really are, and how totally incapable we are of understanding them or meeting them on their own level.

I feel Tolkien did a good job of capturing that 'like us but not of us' thing. GW, less so.

Iracundus
12-01-2008, 09:56
It's because Tolkien was the originator of that "Elves as idealized humanity" fantasy theme. He also spent his lifetime working on and embellishing the underlying background for them. GW doesn't do that as they don't really do more than scratch the surface in terms of expanding xenos background. For the Eldar, that usually means either using the excuse of "they're alien so we can't understand them so we won't write anything about them" or inserting words like "sophisticated", "complex", "advanced" in every other sentence about the Eldar.

ynkvyzytor
12-01-2008, 12:07
I think the original idea behind elves was that most of the time, they're almost just like us, except much, much better than us at everything. And occasionally, in times of great difficultly such as during war, humans get a glimpse of how utterly strange and inhuman the immortal elves really are, and how totally incapable we are of understanding them or meeting them on their own level.

I feel Tolkien did a good job of capturing that 'like us but not of us' thing. GW, less so.

This is why I hate Tolkien Elves They are humans that are better at everything than humans with pointy ears. Eldar at other hand are not superior in everything over IOM humans.

Icarus
12-01-2008, 12:53
Personally I like the way Eldar are portrayed, although I can definately agree that more background is always a good thing! I think there's a clear trend in more recent artwork to try and make them less humanoid and make them more off-kilter. I also like the portrayal of the Eldar mindset because it really hammers home their alienness. I find it more disturbing and 'alienesque' when you can see something that seems to walk and talk like a perfected version of humanity, only for them to suddenly do something wondrous and unprecedented. And then you find out that even that is them when they're holding back their raw potential!

Its a bit like my favourite bits of Dr Who, when the Doctor seems and looks just like a human, but then he goes and does something that marks him out as completely and utterly inhuman, even monstrous.

Johnnyfrej
13-01-2008, 04:34
Who cares if they are more or less human? They are not, and never will be, human. Therefore, we should kill them all. The longer they live the better their chances of hindering the second Great Crusade.

Lord Cook
13-01-2008, 13:08
Who cares if they are more or less human? They are not, and never will be, human. Therefore, we should kill them all. The longer they live the better their chances of hindering the second Great Crusade.

I think Johnnyfrej has hit the nail on the head with regards to Imperial philosophy.

Kyuubi Brat
19-02-2008, 21:06
Well I was actually watching a video on this in physics and it seems that rather than humanoid alien life being a lack of imagination and unlikely due to the random nature of evolution, it is likely that sentient aliens will look similar to us, because limitations of how life can evolve (i.e. it has to be organic carbon based with water as a liquid solvent and therefore will have to evolve to make organic carbon from inorganic carbon then some will choose to consume the organic carbon producers and some start to consume the consumers ect.). It's down to 'convergence' (the biological equivalent of the mathematical concept), where certain traits will always evolve no matter how many different times evolution happens. For instance the octopus evolved eyes which work in the exact same way as the human eye yet entirely separately, the recurrence of such patterns in separate species (i.e. most macro-organisms have eyes which all work in one of so many ways). Hands are convergent and so are neural networks, if you compare a dolphin brain and a human brain, they are quite similar. The upshot of this is that surprisingly Eldar are the most realistic aliens in the 40k universe and most sentient aliens will look similar to us (although there will be variations) and think in a similar way although they will possibly have a far greater capacity then us and it is possible that there is another mental "level" above self awareness.

Vesica
19-02-2008, 23:50
Heresy, the foul xenos are nothing like the perfection that is humanity.

I like the eldar how they are, they arn't quite human but at the same time arn't alien to the point of tyranids.

Battle-Brother Wags
20-02-2008, 00:33
I always find it a bit difficult to suspend my disbelief when it comes to the Eldar. They are just like tall, thin humans. I wish an effort had been made to make them just a tad bit more alien.

I'm sorry, I didn't have time to read all the replies, so if I'm just repeating someone, my apologies.

I think the difficulty is the same difficutly that I have in writing a dramatized version of a battle report that involves Eldar as the protagonists. The inherent problem is that the alienness of the Eldar is not in their physical appearance but in their mental prowess and the speed at which they think, react, and move. None of these things can be signified in a stationary model on the table top. Now I've never read any BL literature involving the Eldar, but I know for myself that I cannot depict the thoughts of an Eldar, which is my favorite thing to do with my protagonists (letting the reader into the head of the main character is my way of adding flavor and mood to the story), because let us be honest, if Eldar really are what they are described to be, I could never communicate that to a reader. An eldar who can to some degree glimpse the future, whose senses are so extremely heightened beyond what I could ever experience, and who thinks so much faster than I could . . . that is where the alienness lies . . . its like telling a human actor to play the role of an eldar striking scorpion exarch in a combat with a bunch of other human actors playing the roles of imperial guardsmen without the aid of computer animation of any kind. To get any effect of the human exarch being faster than the guardsmen, the guardsmen would basically have to slow their own actions down to portray it. Watch Jackie Chan sometime and pay attention to how many guys that he is fighting are just standing around not doing much of anything when you see him fighting a whole mob at the same time. Maybe that illustration doesn't make much sense but hopefully it does.

To sum up, if the Eldar fluff is what it is described to be, we as humans cannot really depict it very well because it is beyond us. Honestly and obviously this is all fictional, but when you set a standard high, you still have to try to live up to it. And we just can't . . . not and have an accurate view of what Eldar are . . . so we do the best we can, as a result the eldar get more humanized and lose their alienness.

Kage2020
20-02-2008, 03:57
The more you know about the Eldar, the more you can write for them. The lack of understanding of their culture, their psychology, etc., all hamper their interpretation.

Kage

Cirrus the Blue
20-02-2008, 05:57
Or maybe they are just alien enough - I mean, I think I got them figured out, but I know in my heart that I really don't, that their methods and means are quiet beyond my comprehension.

And yeah, they do just look like pointy-eared humans.

Why not just put the Eldar in the same category as the Vulcans? hahaha Heck, look at the Star Trek universe and the veritable plethora of physically diverse alien races and all of their distinguishable features that make them quite obviously the furthest from any 'hyoo-mahn' physique they can possibly be what with their different earlobes and nose bridges and bits of crazy jewelry. :p The best is with the 'alien' races that look identical in every which way to humans.

Sticking to the on-topic, however, I agree the Eldar do look far too humanoid (or Elfish, whichever you prefer), but then again, originally it was meant to be WFB set in a parallel sci-fi universe. This very sort of parallel dimension thing happens quite often, though. Just look at 'Slayers' to 'Lost Universe'. Me, personally I've accepted the fact long ago and it doesn't really phase me much. *shrug*

- Cirrus

Grey Seer Skretch
20-02-2008, 11:42
Well, yeah it'd be cool if they were less human, but i agree that theres no point GW releasing things that have no empathy for players, as players wouldn't want to buy or play with soemthing that had little or no visual appeal. In theory I'm all for diverse and deep background, indeed its my favourite bit of the hobby, but I like to think of what GW lays down as a cool starting point if I want to get into the weirder, more fringe or in depth aspects of background. So yeah, it'd be cool in some ways, but I can't imagine its going to happen in a hurry...

Kage2020
20-02-2008, 14:28
...theres no point GW releasing things that have no empathy for players...
Indeed. Why else do you think that Marines were created from teenager stock. ;)

Kage

DapperAnarchist
20-02-2008, 17:19
I would argue that they aren't too human - for the simple reason that when someone comes on and says "CWE are good guys and like humans! Exodites are tree-huggers! Harlequins are ballet in space! DE hurt people for fun, cos they're evil!", they're wrong, and we tell them so, and point them towards the wonderfully complex and involved reasons for Eldar behaviour - reasons that don't always make sense.

kikkoman
21-02-2008, 17:42
Is the Imperium really human? They seem more like an exaggeration or a caricature, 40k is a pretty extreme, over the top setting.

So I sorta see it in that view. I also think it's more important to make an interesting story with interesting folks in it.

Better to think in terms of culture than psychological/biological differences I figure. The closest parallel I see to Eldar in literature would be... how people view people from another culture.
Culture, that's the big word, everything I'm saying is based around this.

Say the Byzantines, sneaky backstabbing lot, in the eyes of the western europeans. Read any accounts of the Byzantine by their neighboring rivals, change the names, you have a description of the Eldar.

The western europeans, a barbarous stupid people that complain when their simple armies fall to brilliant stratagems, yet they lay claim to large amounts of land rightfully belonging to the civilized peoples. Sounds like an Imperial view on orks, it's how the Byzantine viewed the western Europeans.


Or the early 20th century character, Fu Manchu.


"Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, ... one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present ... Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man. –The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu"


Inscrutible, manipulative long nailed evil.



"But you, do you know what you are doing?" he exclaimed. "What is the reason for which you deem yourselves our betters? Have you excelled us in arts or letters? Have our thinkers been less profound than yours? Has our civilisation been less elaborate, less complicated, less refined than yours? Why, when you lived in caves and clothed yourselves with skins we were cultured people.


Sounds like an Eldar talking down to a human or something, yeah? It's actually a dialog from the early 1900's, a man calling himself the 'last philosopher in China' speaking to an englishman. This is how an intellectual from a fallen civilization talks to a (perceived) barbarian.

I'm even pretty damn sure that "Imperial scholar's research on Iyandin's language" is based off of writings on Asian texts like Tales of Genji. His bit on language, references to ancient tales and so on.

and orks, well, they're the hooligans of any society. Look at English caricatures of scots and Irish, you get something orky. I've heard the joke that Tolkein made Orc as an acronym for Oxford Rugby Club.


I like the 40k setting, it creates CULTURES that oppose each other. The Imperium has culture, Orks have culture, Eldar have culture, their interactions and conflicts, that is the clashing of cultures.
I really don't care if their bones are hollow or if they're made of fungus (ok, that part is cool), it's their culture that makes them what they are.


Sure, stereotypes, racism, I think those things can come to mind, but 40k is a hateful world where everyone is blind, and everyone is this exaggeration.

I see the Imperium as the 'everything horrible to ever come out of Europe' culture, I see the Eldar as the 'what Europeans perceive as alien, inscrutible, threatening yet flawed' culture, I see orks as the 'what Europeans perceive as brutish, crude, inferior yet threatening' culture.

Working backwards from that, you get how they see themselves. The faithful in a galaxy of horrors, the remnants who still remember the glory of their people, and boyz just wanna have fun, heheh.

elvinltl
28-02-2008, 13:32
Well, GW wanted Eldar to be a Elegant, Graceful, Mysterious and yet Dangerous race. I mean if Eldar looked more ALIEN like non-humaniod form of an octopus with 9 Eyes, no legs and a BIG BIG EXPOSED BRAIN to show their mental capacity wouldn't you think they fit the Graceful and Elegant bill?

Anything non-humaniod like Tyranids will already make us go "YUCKS! DISGUSTING INSECTS!" so GW had to start on something Humaniod. Well, Eldar are supposed to more cultured and trained and so hence improving on the already perfect human form and function.
This probably account for their model like flawless skins, intelligent mental capability, kawaii pointed ears, fashionable costumes and advance technologies. Something we all desire don't we? :D

Morning Wood
28-02-2008, 13:54
So they look like very pretty people, and they act like very pretty people, but they're still aliens.
Yeah.

Maybe we're looking at it the wrong way. Personally, I reckon they would like it if the Humans were less Eldar.

madprophet
29-02-2008, 02:54
If you want alieness for the Eldar, look no further than their inspiration. Elves are rather inhuman.

First off, Elves live a long time. If an individual elf can live 1000-2000 years (they live even longer in WHFB) stop and consider an Elf born on the same day as Jesus would have been an eye-witness to the entire history of western civilization from the Fall of Jerusalem to the 2nd Gulf War... Imagine that and what it would mean. You probably wouldn't form attachments outside your own kind since humans are rather ephemeral.

If human lifespan is any guide, an elf wouldn't reach sexual maturity for about 200 years or so, ergo family ties would likely be much stronger given the amount of time children spend with their parents. Extended families would be more prevalent since even distant cousins would know of each other. All sorts of knowledge would be more common - afterall you'd have more time to learn a given skill and the Elves would probably know more about any given subject (again given the longer amount of time to learn anything).

These Elves would likely take a longer term view of just about anything. Long term monogamy may or may not be a feature - if Elves mate for life, it will likely be because there is some biological urge to do so. Wendy Pini solved this problem in ElfQuest by the process of 'recognition' where two elves who would make good mates will have an instant connection partly physical, partly psychic. They are then siezed by an overwhelming urge to mate that only gets worse over time until they do so. Any such coupling will result in a pregnancy thus assuring the survival of the race.

Births outside of recognition do occur but are not common. I think this is a cool piece of chrome for the Elves/Eldar.

Bitey
29-02-2008, 09:55
I think a key point here is that its largely down to our perceptions- we can't help but me stuck in 'human mindset', we simply can't transcend this human, all too human (:rolleyes: what.... everyone else was quoting philosophers...) outlook. As such Eldar's gracefulness, beauty, superiority- because in many ways these are Ubermenschian characters- elevated beyond the slave morality of the masses i.e emperor worshiping humanity- has to be represented, in a fictional universe, in terms that are comprehensible to that outlook.
In other words tall, long-limbed, sinuous, slim etc are all part of our, as 21st century humans' perceptions as to what a higher level of humanity would entail. As elvinltl said, if they did have massive exposed brains or extra limbs or other more obviously alien features then it would be moving them outside that comfortable zone of Superior Pseudo humans that can be empathised with.

As an example of the opposite, you can't possibly imagine the tyranids being good guys because aesthetically they fit into our crazy slavering aliens consume humanity story

IyandenAvatar
29-02-2008, 12:29
It seems to me that the eldar maintaining some attributes that resemble human aids in their character. They are devious and rely of deception in comparison to other races, and the eldar physiology gives someone looking into the 40k universe a reflection of this. "They look human enough, but there is something I don'ttrust about them."

elvinltl
29-02-2008, 15:00
Yep perception... IMO, to make Eldar more alien we should instead make Humans less perfect. This is widen the gap between Eldar and Humans making Eldar more Alien. :D

MrBigMr
29-02-2008, 18:39
As I'm a lazy git, I'll quote myself from the Eldar Arrogance thread (seeing that I quoted myself thread from this discussion):


...well, this is coming from a somewhat biassed source, but you do know that a large amount of Eldar culture revolves around, you know, suppressing emotion?
Yes, that is true. But we have to remember that they're suppressing their emotions because they have them. So just because one doesn't punch your head clean of your shoulders, doesn't mean he's not tempted to do so.

I could imagine them venting such things in alternative forms. Reminds me of the scene in Equilibrium, where the people are pumped full of drugs to suppress their emotions. In the scene people were marching up a staircase. One woman had her gloves off and she held on to the handrail, she had her eyes closed and she just felt the rumbling vibrations of the rail. Nothing more.

And lets not forget that we're talking about the craftworlders here. Dark Eldar are quite emo and as rangers (which seem to have trouble keeping it in their pants), outcasts and pirates don't have the balanced lifestyle of paths, their control of their emotions should be quite different. I don't know what to say about the Exodites (apart from personal theories and what I've read).


I would like to say that Eldar think diffrently than Humans, it isn't just what they have expireanced or the language they phrase it in. Their mental patterns, their culture, their lifestyle and history is radically diffrent than humanities. Even their biology is strange and alien, they are a race that is in constant intimate contact with their ancestors.
Never said that Eldar are more cultured humans. I'm just saying that no matter what, in the end their motives, emotions, etc. are understandable if broken down enough. How different is Eldar hatred from human hatred? Sure, they can hate as many ways as Eskimos have names for snow, but in the end it's just snow... I mean hate. If it wasn't how could the Chaos gods get fueled by it all?


It is perhaps not a perfect parrallel, but lets use Tyranids. If Tyranids spoke Low Gothic and the Imperium talked to them and negotiated. We wouldn't gain an understanding of them because we share a language we could say.

"Oh you want to destroy our entire galaxy? what's your name again The Great Devourer? Well thats a bit melodramatic... sure we can't talk this over?"

We wouldn't understand why they consume everything, and even if they told us we wouldn't agree or comprehend the reasons for it.
You really missed the point. Lets put it this way: Explain to a caveman what a television is without using the word "magic" and "box". To do that, you would first have to explain to him all about culture, society, magnetism, electricity, entertainment, etc. Imagine all the words that are put into such a simple thing as a television. Words that you and I take for granted.

Now imagine that a Navigator drops from the future on a mission to describe to you what the Warp is. Imagine all the things he would have to say and teach you so you would have the slightest comprehension of the awesomeness of the Immaterium. How many new words and concepts do you think you'll learn?


As for Tyranids, for one there has been studies on parrots on the subject of language and intellifence. For example, there was one parrot that not only could identify objects, but could also use his knowledge of things to solve puzzles.

Like if given two boxes, of which one was smaller, and asked "what is different", the parrot would answer "size", aka. one is smaller than the other. When given same sized boxes in different color and asked "what is different", the parrot said "color." And even could say what the colors were. Not only that, when given two identical boxes, the parrot could understand that there was no difference between them and that they were identical.

Thus, the parrots reasoning wasn't altered in any way, but it was able to relay it's thoughts to us. So a Tyranid wouldn't talk like you and I. We talk like this because we have set parameters and cultural background to it. If a Tyranid could comminicate in low gothic, it would sound something like:

"Hunger. Food. Run. Devour. Hunger."


But that's besides the point, because to understand the Tyranids, we would do what we do with animals: study them. Same with Eldar. We would need to place the Eldar into an environment where they were unaware of being observed and study their natural behavior. That's what scientists do with humans when ever possible.

We study how they react to things, how their brains process information (what areas light up, etc.), how they act in different situations, etc. That's how we get more clear picture of them. Study of action and reaction. That's what science has done for ages.

Then, when you study, you put those ideas into words. You think that the word "evolution" and "electron" were always part of the dictionary? First someone would have to discover them and write all that is linked to those words. Then he would have to make others understand them as well.

So lets say the Eldar have a special kind of sorrow for the death of a loved one. We would have to study how this manifests itself and all that. Then we would attach it to a word. Then we start teaching that word and all that is attached to it to people. Pretty soon, when someone says the word, all understand what it means.

No, I don't think one would become any more Eldar that way, no more than human who understand why and how cats purr, but we understand it and how it works, the concept of it. Or we can understand how a person with a mental disorder functions, what sets him of and how he feels (like "he is afraid of the dark"), even though you have no idea what goes on inside the head of a person suffering from such problems. But we can imagine. We have been told and even with limited understand and empathy, we are able to form a picture of what it is like in his position.


As you mentioned Chtulhu and such, I'll suggest you go and read Stranger in a Strange Land. It's a nice guide on human-alien relationships and language.


A caveman would never, no matter how long we taught him, understand a Television. His brain is not developed enough, he doesn't have the background of culture and technology we do. Every we tried to explain a TV we would also have to explain electricity and all the science around that and a whole lot of things a caveman simply can not understand.
By caveman I did mean a homo sapien, so from a biological standpoint, we should be on the same level. But still the problem of society and all that remains. But what if you get a caveman to mate with a cavewoman to make a cavebaby. Not take that baby and put it into a modern day home. He/she should have no problems becoming a normal, everyday human being.

Wonder what would happen if a human baby was brought up among the Eldar. Would he turn like Michael Valentine Smith? It's like those feral children who have lived among the animals.


I will never be able to understand the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic the very basics of their mind operates diffrently.
Well, that's one thing you and I have uncommon.


We will never understand the warp, it's even said Psykers and Navigators don't even understand the Warp each of them views an image of the Immaterium that is molded by their perceptions and history.
If they didn't understand it, how can they use it? There's a nice bit in the BFG rulebook of the Warp from the eyes of a Navigator.


EDIT: This is also why I dislike fluff that deals directly with Eldar IE: written from their point of view and in their 'words' Because I like it better when they represent something beyond common human understanding. In Dan Abnetts books Ravenor did a lot of studying on Eldar and their divinations but I believe he himself admits that he doesn't actually understand them.
Yet we have many stories from the POV of mentally ill people, and even from an animal POV (and good ones at that), I don't see how the Eldar of all the things in the universe are so far ahead.

While I do give the Eldar that they are both highly perceptive and do everything with 10 000 the effort of a human, I don't see how a race which has developed stuff identical to ours (though better) and feel the same things (love, hate, lust, etc.), can truly be that different on the long run.

I don't think it's the big picture, but the little details. I mean, like how humans and animals differ. Eye contact, exposed hands and a straight stance have a far different meaning to a human than to an animal.

On the long run, the Eldar fear death, care for their loved ones, enjoy sex and go on a murderous rampage as much as any other creature.


This is my opinion and I believe that is it well reasoned. So no I don't think I missed your point.
I just mean that communication isn't really what Wittgenstein's philosophy was about. It's not whether we can talk to the 'Nids, but rather that we can talk about the 'Nids.


Alright, I've studied psychology for a while now and none of my proffessors in all their expireances have admitted to being able to understand the thought patterns (and reasons behind those thought patterns) of people with severe mental disabilities.
Maybe the difference is that none of your proffessors have mental problems.

If a 'normal' person can't understand the workings of a person with mental problems, can the person with the mental problems understand how it's like for a 'normal' person?

I personally would say yes, if one is aware of one's problems and knows what they cause, he or she can merely ignore the things his or her problems cause to form an image of a 'normal' person, how it is for them and how they work in the world. Sure, this isn't probably a perfect nor a totally accurate image, but it works on forming an understanding of a person without the problems of the observer.

And you can throw all the knowledge you have at this theory, it'll never sink my battleship of experience.


When it comes to Eldar POV text, I don't see how it can't exist. I mean, no matter how bizarre the world is in their heads, to them it's all perfectly natural. So if we have the line:
"X spotted that Y was troubled by something."
How can those two characters be Eldar? For one, even if X spotted Y's problems anywhere from Y's frowny face to slight alteration in Y's aura, disturbance in the Warp or merely that X's (warp)spidey sense was tingling, X non the less spotted it.

If we replace the characters by humans, how does the situation change? X still does the spotting (maybe because Y had "troubled" written all over him) and Y is still troubled by something.


My brain simply isn't wired to think the way womens are for example (this isn't sexist it's just a basic truth) Women and Men think diffrently not in a major way just in small things details. Those details change everything though, I could get an idea of why a person thinks a certain way but still not 'really' understand it.
One reason is hormones. Is a woman has more testosterone in her than normal, will act more like a man. And then there are those people who feel they're the wrong sex.

As for mental problems, they too can be categorized, analysed, the works. True that one can't form a clear pcture of the problem, but it'll give some idea on what it is. It's like fitting a shoe. You got various sizes, but every foot is different. Once you find a shoe that fits (the basic problem, like anxiety), you can start altering it with different soles, maybe widen it, etc. (start seeing what the person as anxious about).

So one can 'understand' what the problem is, such as "John has problems with social situations", but you can't comprehend how it feels for such a person. How it feels not to be able to function with people in person, locking up and mind going blank.

Chaplain of Chaos
29-02-2008, 19:43
I still don't agree with you MrBigMR but I respect your arguments, I'm still of the firm impression that we mostly agree it's just the technicalities that are causing the diffrence in opinions.

Eldar represent a very intense duality of emotion, no human will every expireance what an Eldar expireances since his first moments of life. Nor will he ever grow up in the rigidly discplined Eldar Path.

He is not as psychically attuned with his community or ancestors, he doesn't have the pride of knowing he is from a society that has existed before the dawn of human civilization. He will not truly be able to feel the sorrow, pain and shame the Eldar feel over the Fall.

Wittgenstein be damned, words can only do so much to engender understanding. A radical Ordo Xenos inquisitor who has made his lifes work studying the Eldar won't be able to perfectly predict their actions or understand all the nuances of their culture and society. Eldar language conveys things that gothic just doesn't translate at all. I would also say that without being raised since a child in Eldar culture you won't even be able to perfectly understand eldar speech even if you have a conversational command of the language.

He might be able to say "Yeah, I understand the basics." He won't have the natural intrinsic understanding of true expireance though. I insist that some people are just wired diffrently.

Thats the Alien part of the Eldar for me, beyond their humanesque apperance.

kikkoman
02-03-2008, 16:56
So they look like very pretty people, and they act like very pretty people, but they're still aliens.
Yeah.


and people can be quite different from one another. You use the word alien, but such a word was first used to describe foreign people. Marco Polo might as well have traveled to a craftworld.



Maybe we're looking at it the wrong way.

well, I figure it's about culture. Alien for the sake of alien (bug eyes, extra joints or something) doesn't really matter to me. I see the 'aliens' differentiated more by their culture. Ork culture, Eldar culture, Imperial culture, Tau culture.

chris.seraphim
03-03-2008, 09:04
The whole point with the Eldar (and always had been with Elves, through Tolkein and beyond) is that they LOOK quite human, but that their society, morals, values, abilities, thoughts, feelings, motives, culture, emotions etc. etc. etc. are completely alien.

If you think about it, the human pattern (two arms, two legs, five fingers/toes, head at top with two eyes (binocular vision), nose, mouth and ears) evolved to be top of the food chain on Earth. Assuming that T'au, and the Eladr homeworlds were similar in environment to Terra it is entitrely fair to assume that a very SIMILAR shape would also evolve to be the pre-eminent lifeform.

IMHO the interesting thing about the Eladr is that they LOOK like us, but they are not in any real, motivational, character way LIKE us.

Isn't that so much more interesting than some improbable drool monster being an alien adversary, but someone who can talk like us, infiltrate our society, eat, sh#t and breathe like us, who does in NO WAY think like us, is SO much more scary, enigmatic and interesting.

THAT is the Eladr/Elves role, both in 40K, fantasy battle, and the fantasy/sci-fi genre in general.

Not to say that there isn't a place for evil drool monsters with spikes for arms, and hate in their three 'hearts' in our sick little universe.

keatsmeister
03-03-2008, 18:28
Yep perception... IMO, to make Eldar more alien we should instead make Humans less perfect. This is widen the gap between Eldar and Humans making Eldar more Alien. :D

Indeed, perception is the key. Would it be better if the Eldar were less human? Well, the real question would be "Would it be better if the mon-keigh were less Eldar?"

Some differentiation couldn't hurt, but then I am kind of intrigued by the concept, as previously alluded to in another reply, that the Eldar look so similar to humans, and yet are so, in some cases horrifically different in their mindsets. That is a potentially frightening concept. They're the quiet next door neighbour of the galaxy who turns out to be a serial killer. Humans are just the annoying newcomers to the block, the trashy, party all night family who can never have enough offspring.;)

Iracundus
05-03-2008, 00:30
and people can be quite different from one another. You use the word alien, but such a word was first used to describe foreign people. Marco Polo might as well have traveled to a craftworld.

well, I figure it's about culture. Alien for the sake of alien (bug eyes, extra joints or something) doesn't really matter to me. I see the 'aliens' differentiated more by their culture. Ork culture, Eldar culture, Imperial culture, Tau culture.

Agreed. For the major civilizations, it is less a conflict about biology than about cultures, from the religious fanaticism of the Imperium, the Greater Good of the Tau, the Paths of the Eldar, etc...

For those that claim that the aliens are completely unfathomable because they're alien, consider this: People on Earth just a few centuries ago were saying the same about different tribes and ethnic groups, and some of these groups were practically right next door in modern terms. The exact same arguments were used: "They have completely different customs, rituals, upbringing. Their ways are strange, alien, impossible to understand, and we can never be part of or united with them because they are fundamentally different from us."