Question about the Eldar: what's a soulstone?
Typo by me; it's actually a spirit stone.
Basically they're precious stones made out a crystals called "waystones". These are basically magic and act as a sort of "soul trap" so at the moment of an Eldar's death his soul/spirit is sent to the spirit stone. This is vital as otherwise an Eldar soul is consumed by Slaanesh and subjected to endless torment. Filled waystones are then returned to a Craftworld (think floating planet+ sized ship that house the remaining Eldar) where they are embedded into it's core. The Eldar soul can then freely mingle with the other implanted souls and form the "spirit" of the Craftworld.
There's a prophecy/rumor that if enough souls are gathered within the Craftworlds that a new Eldar God will arise and be able to beat (or at least compete with) Slaanesh to prevent other Eldar souls from being claimed by him.
Oh, and about the Mass Effect's Quarians being inspired by the Eldar - interesting observation. You know, I've always seen Quarians as being, basically, Battlestar Galactica's humans :)
I'm sure there's some of that (and likely some of Galactica's human's in the Eldar... all speculative fiction tends to cannibalize of others eventually) but the Quarian/Eldar look is the kicker for me; it's just too similar for me to overlook. Bioware aren't always the most original; Mass Effect takes a lot from their earlier KOTOR game for a simple example.
BTW. I was reading Black Crusade this evening... Wow. This game's perspective on the Imperium is... surely different. I mean, the book says that Space Marines are inhuman murderers that kill civilians without batting an eye. And that the Emperor actually wanted to replace humanity with beings like the Primarchs? This... surely is just Chaos propaganda?
Different interpretation but still pretty much true. While they occasionally get rewritten as more lovey-dovey then usual by sympathetic authors and some Chapters are presented as being mpre "in touch" with humanity, on the whole Space Marines are just sort of bastards... but bastards who are on humanities' side. That's great if you're the other side of the universe and they're preventing Tyranids or Chaos from consuming you... it's far less good if you're right in the mix and the Space Marines decides it's imperative to wipe out a planet. Remember 40K is all about grimdark and scale... Space Marines are saving humanity not
humans... a plant or dozen being wiped clean of life doesn't really mean much.
Likewise the Emperor was pretty hot on genetic engineering; he rose to power by creating armies of genetically engineered warriors to support him and then put in place the Primarch project to give him even more powerful warriors to lead them. As far as I'm aware there's no definitive answer either way as to whether he wanted to replace humanity entirely but let's remember that the Emperor's driving goal was to make humanity be able to survive the threats that came its way... it wouldn't be entirely out of character for him to think that genetically engineering the entire human race into incredibly powerful super soldiers who can handle a Bloodthirster on their own was his next big step.
Wait, what - Malus is officially dead ... but there's a novel coming? Well, that's just plain weird.
EDIT: That being said, End Times sounds like good fun. An all-elf army? Malekith being the Phoenix King? I could go for some of that.
As I mentioned, End Times is pretty much Fantasy Battle pressing the big red button labeled "do not press, crazyness awaits!", standing back and laughing manically. Personally I'm pretty glad that it's Nagash... one of the oldest and most respectable of their character (I still have his terribly cheesy older model from the days where I played a lot)... as the main big bad rather than a new invention (*cough*Archaon*cough*).
Yep... Malus apparently dies and dies pretty softly. Not that he's alone in dying by any means... if there's a character you like in Fantasy Battle I suspect there's around a 50% chance they've already died/been captured and tortured/had their soul stolen/something equally horrible and around a 75% chance that if it hasn't happened yet it will by the end of it.