I've wanted to design my own Eldar Craftworld for a while now, ever since the Eye of Terror campaign, actually. Nothing has really stopped me, but I find that my best ideas come from a germ of an idea that I simply let bang around in my head for a while. Being an old hand at world-building (I've been running D&D games for 20 years now), I've discovered that this can be a crucial process for weeding out bad ideas and developing good ones.
If you're not interested in fluff, you can probably skip this article. If you're a fluff monkey, you may get a little inspiration from this or at the very least some entertainment value.
First let's start with the 'Why?' Do I really need my own craftworld? There are plenty of other craftworlds out there already with their own fluff, flavor and history. (Incidentally, if you are an Eldar fluff buff, you should really head over to the Overlords UK podcast and listen to Episode 33, they've got a great recap of Eldar history right up to the current status at the end of M41, as well as some interesting ideas about where things seem to be going in the future.
I decided that I wanted a craftworld of my own, with its own flavor, and one that links back a little bit to the less-explored aspects of Eldar society; exodites and corsairs. I also wanted to inject a little bit more of a clannish, medieval flavor. Eldar are elves, after all, and Games Workshop borrows heavily from Gaelic folklore for their Eldar fluff.
So here was one germ of my idea; rather than a Craftworld, I would start with an Eldar corsair clan. The clan leader would be a sort of grasping, climbing opportunist; a feudal lord or prince with hopes of becoming an Ultrarch, a High King-like figure. I call him Yragael.
Yragael is not simply a pirate; he's a pirate with a vision. Not content to eke out an existence scavenging, he wants to establish himself as the Ultrarch of a new Eldar dynasty. Ages ago he began to establish his clan as feudal protectors of Exodite worlds, later becoming a gun-for-hire among the the craftworlds, even performing dangerous missions for contacts within the lesser races. These mercenary actions have earned him the derisive moniker of "Autarch Fáil" - Mercenary Prince - as well as the dismay of the more traditionalist Eldar of Biel Tan.
Yragael is also unusually prolific, for an Eldar. Yragael has three sons, Autarchs and fleet masters all. They have inherited their father's drive to build a new Eldar empire.
All Yragael's scheming was not in vain, however. He amassed considerable wealth in the form of materiel, trade goods and favors. Using this wealth as the foundation of his personal empire, Yragael began the lengthy task of establishing new Exodite colonies.
His success amongst the more backward elements of Eldar society did little to repair his reputation amongst the craftworlders. Still viewed as little more than a pirate, and one who consorts with xenos to boot, few paid much attention to his ever-growing fleet of ships or growing web of relations amongst the Exodites. Few except for one Eldrad Ulthruan.
Unbeknownst to most, Eldrad's seer council quietly cultivated a relationship with Yragael, lending advice and direction to the would-be Ultrarch. In return, Yragael's corsairs performed many desperate and delicate missions for the august farseer, culminating in the dedication of the entirety of Yragael's combat fleet to the Altansar incursion during Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade.
Yragael's ship fleet was crushed, hundreds of Eldar spending their lives in the pursuit of Maugan Ra's mission to retrieve his lost homeworld. In the end outsiders would view Yragael's brash commitment to the scheme a tragic and foolish waste of Eldar lives. It would be some time before word would spread of the Shard.
In return for Yragael's total commitment to the devices of Eldrad and Maugen Ra, he was told the location of a long-lost craftworld shard, an unfinished craftworld hanging in the depths of interstellar space, dead and cold. Built during the Fall, this shard was meant to be the backbone of a new craftworld, but it was lost and forgotten during the destruction of the Eldar empire. Only Maugan Ra, who could draw upon the vastly ancient memories of his myriad spirit stones, could recall the last known location of the shard, and only Eldrad could provide Yragael with a sufficiently large entourage of bonesingers to allow the construction of a new craftworld to begin. Yragael jumped at his chance to secure a place among the other craftworlds and so the deal was struck.
The Shard has been retrieved and the bonesingers have begun long years of building.Craftworld Urm (Craftword Fáil, to some) has begun to take shape.