What you see in the pics below is a "mini" version of the table which I recently said I was going to build. It's not the most complicated table that will ever be made, but it's a different proposition than the sand-green-paint thing I've been doing. I decided to make a small, small version of the big one just to try out a few ideas, see how the colors look and just get a feel for what the table is going to look like when it's completed (or, more importantly, so I'll see what stupid mistakes I'm going to make before I ruin a big project with them).
It's a very specific environment, this table, and it conforms to fluff I've written which explains how it was conceived. This is a long one, so get comfortable...
In the period immediately following the Horus Heresy, the Eldar civilizations were also transitioning into a new era. Though much time had passed since The Fall which brought the vile Slaanesh into existence, the Eldar were still carving the Paths which were meant to refocus their powers and apply discipline to their dwindling numbers. Many Eldar civilizations erected Aspect shrines, but many still fought to merely bring focus back to a scattered and reeling race before being truly able to undertake The Path.
Though Craftworld Donn'Alaich Sian was further from the Eye of Terror than almost all other craftworlds, they fought for their survival and rebirth like the rest of their kind. Having erected several Aspect shrines and undertaken training, Donn'Alaich Sian was starting its rebirth as a strong, post-Fall Eldar civilization. Unfortunately for its peaceful and isolated people, the Ultramarine forces of the Emperor descended upon them with a fury and, for months, hammered their people with a relentless attack. The militia and inexperienced Aspects eventually overcame the Ultramarines and crushed them in the halls and expanses of their home, but not soon enough to stem a tide of Eldar losses which were the turning point in their civilization's future.
So few Eldar were alive among the ruins and bodies on Craftworld Donn'Alaich Sian that they were no longer able to maintain the great home, and they resigned to abandon it. Fleeing for refuge to an Exodite world that they once protected from enemies, the citizens of Donn'Alaich Sian made a new home and gathered their small numbers together as one family. While the people continued their study of The Path upon Exodite soil, the Craftworld itself drifted alone in space, empty and derelict, no longer the living, vibrant habitat it was before the Emperor's hammer fell; its ecosystem replaced by desert sands, its soft breezes replaced by dead, stale air.
The bond between Craftworld Donn'Alaich Sian and its scattered children was not yet broken, however; after generations passed, their venerable Farseers foretold another tragedy which approached like a shadow. Their inner eyes saw that Eldar feet would once again land on the dead Craftworld. These would be led by a Seer of black heart named Khirian, who sought to establish the stench of Chaos among the Eldar shrines and give birth to an abomination. When the Black Farseer brought his forces, misled and misdirected by his subtle but powerful psychic powers, Slaanesh himself would take hold of Craftworld Donn'Alaich Sian and create a remorseless, perverse, intractable stain on the galaxy.
With only a few generations to prepare for the onslaught of Khirian and his forces, the Eldar of Donn'Alaich Sian once again took to the stars. Splitting into two arms, the small society of Eldar struck forth in divergent directions. The first division sought the aid of Craftworld Saim Hann. Saim Hann's Farseers had also gleaned the approach of Khirian and directed their most fearsome warriors to train their beleagured Eldar brothers in their own bloodthirsty style. Under their tuteledge, Donn'Alaich Sian were schooled in the Path of the Warrior. Before the Wild Riders released their pupils, they gave them many of their finest Jetbikes and Vypers as gifts upon which to ride into battle.
The other arm of Donn'Alaich Sian ventured further on into the galaxy and held audiences with Seers from other Craftworlds, telling of the encroaching darkness which looms over them all and asking for assistance in the effort to protect the sacred Aspect shrines from the stain of Chaos. Over many years of travel and many consultations with learned Seers throughout space, three Eldar Craftworlds agreed to dedicate their full forces in the effort to repel Khirian and remove him from influence.
After what seemed like an eternity, the survivors of Donn'Alaich Sian reunited in the courtyards of their ancient craftworld, once again standing beneath its towers and edifices and once again meditating in its temples. One arm of Donn'Alaich Sian was now recreated as terrifiying and swift warriors in the Saim Hann tradition, the other as emissaries who brought the much-needed assistance of their mighty kin that arrived in force to bolster the garrison against the Black Seer.
They were no longer the shaken, wounded Eldar of ten millennium before. Donn'Alaich Sian stood, remade and reborn in The Path of the Warrior and Seer, surrounded by their long-absent brothers, prepared for the coming storm, looking into the blackness of space. They waited together for the arrival of the one brother who joined with darkness and, very soon, would be coming to seek a new home.
On February 5, four Eldar players representing the tainted farseer and four players representing the ones who fled the craftworld are going to play an 8000 point mega-battle in my home on the table which will be built in the style of this small diorama.
And there ya have it. :)