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[[caption-width-right:350:For the Greater Good!]]

->''A thousand fibres connect each of us with our fellow Tau and along those fibres our deeds run as causes which come back to us as effects. Everything we must do must be in furtherance of the Greater Good, lest we return to the Mont'au, the Terror.''

In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', the Tau are a race of blue-skinned, hoofed humanoid aliens controlling a small empire located at the eastern edge of Imperial space.

A young, dynamic, and somewhat {{naive|Newcomer}} race, the Tau have come a long way very quickly. A few thousand years ago they were a bunch of primitives who had just discovered fire, and were targeted for extermination by the Imperium, but a [[DeusExMachina miraculous warp storm]] destroyed the fleet sent to their homeworld, and the Imperium lost interest. Within scant centuries, they had discovered firearms, evolved into distinct subraces, and were proceeding to destroy each other, until a cadre of mysterious strangers convinced the various factions to [[OneWorldOrder work together for the benefit of all]]. Now the warriors of the Fire Caste, pilots of the Air Caste, artisans of the Earth Caste, and diplomats of the Water Caste serve the philosophy of the Greater Good, under the wise and watchful eyes of the Ethereal Caste.

The Tau are known for two things: their advanced technology, and their Greater Good. The Tau have embraced technology in a way the Adeptus Mechanicus deems blasphemous, and even their basic infantry are armed with energy weapons the envy of Imperial soldiers, while their elite warriors wear flying battlesuits that can lay waste to entire squads. However, it is the philosophy of the Greater Good that is the Tau's most dangerous creation, [[TheAlliance as they actively try to recruit other races into their empire]]. The barbaric Kroot, a species of bird-like aliens that seek evolutionary upgrades by [[CannibalClan feeding on their enemies]], were an early success, and the insectoid Vespid have been brought into the fold as well, along with several other races. Many humans also fall prey to the promises of Tau technology and a society less transparently brutal than the Imperium. This leads many to label the Tau the "good guys" of 40K, which is true to some extent--the Tau will at least offer you a chance to surrender before dragging you into the fold by force, and will only put you into concentration camps if it's for the Greater Good. Throw in the fact that the Ethereals are suspected of MindControl as well as the notion of a race [[FantasticCasteSystem rigidly divided into castes]], and you have a classic CrapsaccharineWorld. Compared to the rest of 40K though, this is normal, or even better than the rest of the factions.

The tabletop Tau army is perhaps the shootiest in the game. Basic Tau firearms outclass the equivalents of most other races in terms of power and range and are capable of shredding light vehicles, while their heavy weapons make mockeries of enemy armor. Tau battlesuits can also be customized to deal devastating ranged damage to a specific type of unit, and are mobile enough to make hit and run attacks. On the downside, the Tau are simply pathetic in close combat, and have no dedicated assault units besides Kroot kindreds. Success with the Tau means learning how to make the elements of your army work in harmony - using the Kroot to shore up your flanks, drawing the enemy into a killing zone with a unit of Pathfinders, or having your Drones pin down attackers before they can reach your lines, and remember, if you bring along an Ethereal, [[HeroicBSOD keep him alive]].

Their 7th Edition codex was released in November 2015. Additionally, a narrative campaign pitting the Tau against the Raven Guard and White Scars chapters of Space Marines was released that contains all of the new material featured in the 7th edition codex, essentially making it a companion to the 6th edition codex. The ''Kill Team'' set also features a battle between the Tau and Raven Guard as its fluff pieces.



[[folder:The Tau Empire]]

* ActionGirl:
** [[http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/O%27Shaserra Commander Shadowsun]], the supreme commander of the Fire Caste who led several successful raids on a Tyranid splinter fleet, eventually destroying it without losing a single ship.
** Sub-Commander Torchstar of Farsight's "The Eight" special forces squad is only revealed to be female by her fluff blurp (mentioning her by gendered pronouns). She otherwise pilots a standard [=XV8=] Battlesuit, but has a penchant for using two flamers to erect a wall of impassible flames. Being a member of The Eight and preferring weapons that get a Tau that close to an enemy should tell you how much action this girl packs.
** Tau society gives no real distinction between men and women, so long as they serve the greater good. In order to show this, Games Workshop made a point to include female heads (distinguishable by their "Y" shaped noses) for the 7th Edition Tau models.
* AgentScully: A common trait of the Tau is to be skeptical of things they don't have proof of, which has bitten them in the ass more than once.
* AirborneAircraftCarrier: The Manta fits this, though it would be more accurate to equate it with an Airborne Amphibious Assault Carrier, since its primary function is to transport large groups of ground forces from orbit to the surface and from one surface zone to another. It is capable of transporting an entire hunter cadre (which equates to an entire tabletop Tau force deployment) and, given jetpack battlesuits and grav-tank mounted infantry, can actually deploy its entire force with one low-speed pass without ever landing. It is in the same mass category as an [[HumongousMecha Imperial Titan]], though its primary role is the transportation and long-range fire support of Tau ground forces, rather than being used for direct combat.
** A Manta's max carrying capacity is 188 infantry. You can then swap up to 140 of these for [[HoverTank tanks]], [[MiniMecha battlesuits]], [[AttackDrone drones]], turrets...
* AlienBlood: Due to high levels of cobalt, Tau blood is blue, and according to at least [[Literature/CiaphasCain one inquisitor]], smells awful.
* AlienHair: The Tau only grow hair in a single lock at the back of their head, which they typically let grow shoulder length on Fire Warriors and sometimes longer in other castes, typically resembling a top-knot.
* AliensSpeakingEnglish: Tau education involves implanting [[NeuralImplanting didactic modules]] (microchips containing databases of factual information) into the brains of Tau infants and children, and these include language data. Therefore, almost all Tau can understand and speak languages they might be expected to encounter, including Imperial Gothic. However, while those modules can give information, they cannot impart actual skill, which still requires practice. So unlike TranslatorMicrobes, any Tau who does not have reason to practice those languages will speak them haltingly and with a heavy accent and may miss a lot of nuance when listening to other languages spoken. Because of this, Tau almost always defer to the [[CunningLinguist Water Caste]], which does practice speaking and interpreting alien languages, if they are to communicate with aliens. Whether or not a given Tau ''chooses'' to speak an alien language [[EloquentInMyNativeTongue is another matter]], and how pervasive this is can be subject to DependingOnTheWriter. Members of castes other than the Water caste tend to defer to dedicated translators when dealing with aliens. After all, [[CripplingOverspecialization that is not their area]]. And when a Water Caste member is not present, they still defer to another present if that person is willing to speak. The only times they will actually speak with aliens is when no other translator is available.
** Inquisitor Oriel once warned [[Literature/TheLastChancers the guardsmen he was traveling with]] on a Tau ship (while disguised as a diplomatic delegation) to watch what they said around the Tau. Even though the only Tau to have spoken to them directly was a Water Caste interpreter, he knew psychically that the other Tau around them understood far more of what they said than they let on. He even speculated that they might be [[ObfuscatingStupidity doing so deliberately]] as a means of getting the humans to let their guard down and say something that the Tau could later use as leverage against them in negotiations.
* TheAlliance: They're the ''only'' ones that actually bother to get (and keep) allies, [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder whereas the others would either wipe everything else out]], or still have internal problems to sort out (often times, it's both). Amongst their allies are the barbaric, bird-like Kroot; the insectoid Vespid, who may or may not be mind controlled; the squid-like, space-faring Nicassar, who make up most of the Tau Navy; the dwarf-like Demiurg, merchants and traders; and the reptilian, [[{{Expy}} Trandoshan-reminding]] Tarellian mercenaries, who '''hate''' the Imperium.
* AmbitionIsEvil: A core Tau value, though that only applies to ''personal'' ambition. Ambition on [[TheNeedsOfTheMany an empire-wide scale]] in following the Greater Good is considered a virtue.
* AncientAstronauts:
** The Tau actually ''were'' visited by a spacefaring non-indigenous species when they were living as hunter-gatherers: humanity. Though in defiance of this trope, the Tau seem not to regard them with any particular awe. Considering that humans were planning on "sterilizing" T'au and colonizing the planet for themselves, they might also count as AbusivePrecursors. Apparently the Tau's breakthrough into FasterThanLightTravel came about when they discovered [[LostTechnology the ruins of an alien spaceship]] on one of the other planets in their home system. It is not recorded if this ship was human or otherwise but given the human visitation of their system, it certainly seems probable (in ''Battlefleet Gothic'', it's pretty much explicit that it was the crashed human ship that they learned warp technology from. But between the damage on the engines they reverse-engineered and lack of Navigators, shallow skips into Warp are the best they can do).
** The Codex also implies that there was another: [[spoiler:before the appearance of the first Ethereal, strange lights and sightings of slender figures were reported in the mountainous regions of the Tau homeworld. Slender figures and strange lights? [[Characters/Warhammer40000Eldar Hmmmmm...]]]]
* AnimalThemeNaming: All Tau air and land vehicles are named after sea creatures, mostly shark-relatives and fish.
* {{Animesque}}: The battlesuits are a dead giveaway.
* ApologeticAttacker: In most cases, though if the Ethereal is dead or the Fire Caste's blood is up, they can be just as fierce as the other races.
* ArchEnemy: The Imperium, obviously. The Imperium of Man is the largest, most stable and well-organised faction opposing the Tau, and represent the greatest obstacle to Tau galactic conquest. As well as that, their worldviews are almost total mirror images: the Imperium believe in religious fanaticism, total extermination of all that is different and blind willful ignorance; the Tau refuse to acknowledge the (demonstrably real) supernatural elements of the universe, believe in converting enemies to their cause and have a strong tradition of scientific research.
* AsceticAesthetic: Common to Tau vehicles, ships, and structures. They prefer their constructions to be ergonomic and functional, with every component designed to fit perfectly with every other component, such that it forms one common whole. Living spaces do occasionally have frescoes on the walls and floors, with abstract labyrinth-like patterns, though the colors are so subtle as to be almost unnoticeable unless one focuses directly on it, the intention being that it serves as a meditation aid. The Fire Caste in particular is known for its austere sense of aesthetics, and this is reflected in the visual simplicity of their military structures.
* AsskickingEqualsAuthority: While their FantasticCasteSystem determines a Tau's limitations on vocation, their Fantastic ''Ranking'' System is entirely meritocratic. Everyone begins life at the lowest ranks and is given a chance to ascend to a higher rank once every four T'au years of their adult life. This promotion is based entirely on how good a given Tau is at doing their job, and for those in the Fire Caste in particular, being good at their job means being an excellent soldier and leader.
* AugmentedReality: The Taus are one of the few factions that bothers to extensively use this. Squads of Pathfinders and drones observing the battlefield continuously feed Tau infantry, tanks and battlesuits with information, predicting shot trajectory, indicating the position and probable path of the enemy, or highlighting weak points.
* AttackAttackAttack: One of the core Tau strategy is the Mont'ka or "Killing Blow", which is the art of identifying an opportunity and weakness in the enemy and relentlessly attack it until the enemy is annihiliated. It particularly requires that the Tau Commander doesn't stop attacking for one moment lest his force loses momentum and he finds himself ensnared in a battle of attrition.
* AttackDrone: Unlike the Imperium, the Tau make extensive use of artificial intelligences as worker or battlefield drones, and have so far avoided the [[AIIsACrapshoot robot rebellion]] problem.
* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: In contrast to what was said above, this is {{averted|Trope}} with any Tau not in the Fire Caste, particularly the Ethereals. While even the lowest ranked Ethereal has ostensible authority over the highest ranked Fire Caste, Ethereals do not train in combat (except for certain ritualistic dueling methods) and will not be much of a force in combat. Despite that, they may still accompany hunter cadres in the field, as their mere presence is a kind of combat multiplier in itself, with every Tau present clearly focused on the essence of the Greater Good and willing to lay down their life without hesitation, fear, or protest if necessary.
* BadassNormal: OK, so they aren't [[PunyEarthlings normal humans]] like 40K's other BadassNormal BadassArmy, the [[TankGoodness Imperial]] [[RedshirtArmy Guard]]. The Tau ''are'', however, aliens who are physically weaker than humans and have no psykers. All the Tau have at their disposal to fight the hordes of superpowered and supernatural beings that threaten the empire is [[HigherTechSpecies their]] [[BeamSpam formidable]] [[MiniMecha technology]] and [[ThePowerOfFriendship their]] [[TheAlliance allies]]. However, every single member of the Fire Caste learns to wage war since childhood, which is very similar to the military culture of Cadia, which is widely regarded as one of the best worlds to recruit Imperial Guardsmen from.
* BeginnersLuck: La'Kais, protagonist of the game ''VideoGame/FireWarrior'', manages to take on and defeat both Imperial and Chaos forces by himself, up to [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu taking down a Lord of Change]] on his first day of live combat, with some help from both Tau and Ultramarine forces with Chaos. Unfortunately after that he was hit with a bad case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and was mentally broken by the experience, though it's suggested he'll get better (And he does: interviews from the developers of the ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar'' series '''heavily''' imply that the Tau commander in ''Dark Crusade'' is the same Kais). The book also reveals [[spoiler:[[GodWasMyCopilot that Khorne was helping him.]]]]
* BenevolentAlienInvasion: Well...sort of. Compared to [[AbsoluteXenophobe standard Imperial procedure]], re-education camps and status as an underclass of society isn't so bad.
* BerserkButton: The fastest way to piss a Tau off? Kill an Ethereal. ''Especially'' if that Ethereal is Aun'va. That is to say, if they're not all dead [[HeroicBSOD before the shock wears off...]]
* BigGood: [[http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Aun%27Va High Ethereal Aun'va]], Master of the Undying Spirit and Aun'o of the Tau Empire. He is the Tau equivalent of the Emperor in terms of the reverence given to him and the power he wields in Tau society, although he's not worshiped as a god like the Emperor is.
* BladeOnAStick: Ethereals sometimes wield an Honor Blade, a staff with a pair of {{Absurdly Sharp Blade}}s at either end. An Ethereal trained in its use is said to be able to [[ImplausibleFencingPowers spin the staff around so fast]] as to make the blades on the ends almost invisible. The Honor Blade is primarily used to settle disputes between Ethereals in [[{{Flynning}} stylized, bloodless duels]], where the sharpness of the blades is used to highlight an Ethereals' restraint and self-control, rather than intent to kill. However, when someone who has no regard for the Greater Good draws near an Ethereal, said restraint need not apply.
* BlingOfWar: {{Downplayed|Trope}}, especially compared to other powers in the setting. Fire Caste commanders will generally wear an additional jeweled ringlet in their scalp locks for each campaign that they have successfully led. However, a Tau of any caste who rises high in the ranks will usually be surrounded by increasingly rare and valuable pieces of technological gadgetry, which is a kind of bling in its own way if a little less gaudy than most examples. However, Cadre Fireblades do wear fancy capes.
* BloodBrothers: While the Ta'lissera is common to all Tau castes, among the Fire Caste this takes the form of ritual self-mutilation and blood-mingling, carving bonding symbols into their chests, with the knives they used to do so kept as a symbol of that bond.
* BrainComputerInterface: When booting up, battlesuits hold the pilot's head in a fixed position and insert a small hypodermic probe into the spine just at the base of the skull. The probe is thankfully flexible enough to insert itself ''between'' the vertebrae. Once making contact with the spinal nerves, the pilot experiences a moment of disorienting nausea, which then passes as the interface fully comes online. From then until they deactivate the battlesuit, they see out of its optics clusters, hear with its microphones, feel through its pressure sensors, and control it as though it was their own body, while their actual body is temporarily paralyzed as though asleep.
* BrainwashingForTheGreaterGood: A literal case for those conquered by the Tau who resist the idea of the Greater Good (though the Tau prefer not to think of it as "brainwashing"). They have no prisons; any disruptive social deviancy is considered to be a psychological issue on the part of the deviant, and correctional institutions are more like a mental hospital and educational facility than a lockup. Any concentration camps they establish are holding areas to protect those who reject the Greater Good from themselves until they can be properly re-educated.
* BureaucraticallyArrangedMarriage:
** While the Tau have no direct analogue to human marriages (the closest they come to is the [[BloodBrothers Bonding Ceremony]] which involves a mix-gender group of several partners and is a [[TrueCompanions non-sexual agápe relationship]]) they do have arranged ''breeding'', with breeding couples being summoned by a "Procreation Committee" to spend a day together attempting to conceive, after which they go their separate ways. All child-rearing is done in educational/nursing facilities by professional instructors of the matching caste. However, it is not unusual for a parent to take an interest in their offspring's development and occasionally visit them, though the onus of raising the child is on the instructors rather than the parent, and Tau society places more importance on chosen family via the Ta'lissera rather than blood relation.
** Speaking of the Ta'lissera: It's a bonding ritual between two or more Tau, usually ones who work together and have a great degree of respect. For example, members of a Fire Warrior squad, some Earth caste builders working on a long project, or some Air caste ship crew. After the ritual, all Tau involved carry matching bonding knives to signify their new-found relationship, much like how a human married couple wear rings.
* ChummyCommies: Whether the Tau are heroes or villains depends on your perspective. Either way, there is some definite collectivist influence in their philosophy.
* CombatPragmatist: Tau prefer quick ends to their wars. They get by destroying enemy supply routes, performing swift and tactical precision strikes and long-range combat to end it all quickly. They even prefer giving up bases to making last stands.
* CompellingVoice: Any orders given by an Ethereal are obeyed without question. The Ordo Xenos of the Inquisition are ''very'' interested in this ability...
* CrewOfOne:
** Many Tau vehicles have crews much smaller than those used by some other galactic civilizations, thanks to their extensive use of simple artificial intelligence and automation to take the load off the crew. Even in cases where a Tau vehicle has a nominally larger crew, this is mostly for the sake of redundancy in case some members become incapacitated, and to keep any one crew from having to divide their attention between too many areas. For example, the Hammerhead Gunship has a crew of three, but the "glass cockpit" of each of the crew's stations allows any one of them to take over the task of any other if necessary, and it could theoretically be operated by a single crewmember tabbing between control screens.
** Longstrike, an [[AcePilot ace Hammerhead pilot]], has been given a new slim-form battlesuit which synchronizes with a Hammerhead's systems to allow him to control the entire gunship single-handedly, making him a literal Crew of One.
* CripplingOverspecialization: The basic weapon of the Tau line infantry is powerful enough that even Space Marines are cautious about trying to soak its fire up, and the Tau's anti-vehicle weapons laugh at enemy armor. However, the Tau's poor reflexes compared to other races leave them at a huge disadvantage in a close-quarters battle. They make heavy use of Kroot auxiliaries to try and make up this difference, but the Kroot's skills are primarily in assaulting from ambush rather than taking the fight to the enemy. As a result, the Tau have few options when there is a military need to swiftly storm and overrun.
** Commander Shadowsun, having been created for the ''Cities of Death'' supplement, [[GracefulInTheirElement is frighteningly effective in urban combat]] but becomes a massive liability when the unwise player attempts to use her in a more open environment. (This was fixed in 6th however)
* CrystalSpiresAndTogas: Tau cities are noticeably cleaner than most Imperial settlements.
* DangerousForbiddenTechnique:
** The Riptide Battlesuit's Nova Reactor can supercharge either the main cannon or shield at the risk of springing a radiation leak that can kill the pilot and everybody around.
** In recent editions, the Tau have experimented with lifting the {{Power Limiter}}s on their ion weapons. This allows ion weapons to be fired in an OverclockingAttack mode that causes the target to detonate in an explosion of plasma, but also risks fatal radiation discharges from the weapon itself.
** They actually avert this with any standard issue piece of wargear. Most notably, their plasma rifles differ from most other races' in that they pose no risk of lethal overheating. However, special-issue wargear can be prone to malfunctions, but that's expected as they're being field-tested and "kinks" are inevitable.
* DarkAndTroubledPast: A race-wide example: the Mont'au, which does in fact mean "The Terror," when the various Tau factions were in an all-out war that threatened to wipe out the entire species before the Ethereals showed up.
* DarkerAndEdgier: After their initial introduction, where the Tau were emphasized as a race of idealistic (and somewhat naïve) optimists, players began complaining that the Tau [[PuritySue were too good and pure]] for the grim setting. The developers have since added some darker elements to the Tau, to the point that by ''War Zone Damocles: Kauyon'', Tau have been shown to have mostly given up on even considering integrating belligerent Humans from conquered worlds into their Empire, and just send them to forced labor camps.
* DarkMessiah: The Ethereals went from visionaries uniting their people with great oratory skills and charisma to a caste of Dark Messiahs, being seen as leaders of the Tau's belief system while supposedly secretly controlling the entire race through MindControl pheromones. Essentially, they can be seen as equivalent to Covenant Prophets in ''Franchise/{{Halo}}''. How did they not piss off the folks that liked the Tau being the only source of pure goodness in the universe? By stating all this through fluff; namely, the [[UnreliableNarrator somewhat self-serving]] logs of Imperial xenobiologists.
* DefensiveFeintTrap: One of the core branches of Tau tactical doctrine, called "kuyon" in their language which translates roughly as "patient hunter." It focuses on using a "lure" (either a seemingly isolated and vulnerable unit or objective or in some cases the ''lack'' of forces) to draw the enemy into the Tau's considerable crossfire.
* DeflectorShields: The Tau possess energy shield technology, which in contrast to the "Void Shields" of the Imperium (which absorb incoming fire or stop it dead) are genuine "deflector" shields because [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin they deflect incoming fire away from the object being protected]]. This has the disadvantage of not necessarily protecting against every incoming attack but has the advantage of not being subject to [[TimTaylorTechnology overloads and powerdowns]]. This is represented as an invulnerable save in game mechanics, as the incoming fire is either deflected completely away or manages to get through and score a hit. Also notable is that Tau often put these shields on sacrificial drones which are designed to bodyguard living Tau by [[TakingTheBullet throwing themselves into the path of oncoming fire]] and counting on their shields to protect their assigned Tau.
* DittoAliens: Humans often have trouble telling one Tau apart from another, or even telling which Tau are male or female. The Tau often have similar sentiments about humans.
* DoesNotLikeShoes: Tau feet end in hooves, which gives them less impetus than races like humans to wear shoes, so generally they go barehoofed, including their line Fire Warriors. Stealth Battlesuits do have covered feet, but that is only because they enclose everything, and Crisis Battlesuits sidestep the issue altogether (fetal-position-shaped cockpits with mechanical legs). The Kroot and Vespid have bird-like and insect-like feet respectively, and also go bareclawed, but that is an extension of [[FullFrontalAssault neither race wearing clothes beyond a few small items]].
* DroneDeployer: The Tau's baseline Tiger Shark Bomber has internal racks for up to fourteen drones. It often deploys these with a flyover to have them scout dense terrain or drop them in the path of an advancing enemy force to slow them down without expending living personnel.
* DropShip: The Orca Dropship[[note]]a CanonImmigrant from ''VideoGame/FireWarrior''[[/note]] is the first vehicle in the setting to be referred to as a "drop ship". Unlike the Thunderhawk Gunship used by the Space Marines, the Orca is purely a transportation craft rather than a multi-mission transport and strike craft, and is only armed for suppressing a landing zone and point defense. It is capable of transporting two Fire Warrior teams, two [[MiniMecha Crisis Battlesuit]] teams, and a squadren of [[AttackDrone Gun Drones]]. While Mantas have greater carrying capacity and combat potential, the smaller Orcas allow much more strategic flexibility in force deployment than if only Mantas were used.
* EarnYourTitle: Tau who show particularly heroic dedication to The Greater Good are usually granted a title based on the deed that they did to earn.
** Longstrike earned his title by single-handedly fighting off a regiment of Imperial Guard Leman Russ tanks.
** Darkstrider earned his title by leading and succeeding in numerous suicide missions, culminating in being instrumental in the Great Wars for Confederation by infiltrating Ork camps and using markerlights to pick out vital Gargant components under construction.
** Shadowsun earned her title by arranging to have Tau ships in orbit position themselves to create an artificial eclipse over an Ork base, giving her and her stealthsuit team the opportunity they need to infiltrate it.
** Farsight earned his title for his ability [[BatmanGambit to predict where Orks would be and how they would react]], which he exploited to allow his forces to defeat many times their number in Orks.
* EasyEvangelism: Played straight when the Ethereals first revealed themselves to the rest of Tau society. They ended a long and bloody siege simply by telling each side to work together, and within a matter of months had the rest of T'au coming together for the Greater Good. However, this is also {{Handwave}}d by the Ethereals use of a CompellingVoice. This trope is {{averted|Trope}} with their attempts to evangelize the Greater Good outside their species. Some do convert, setting aside their own ambitions in exchange for the protection of the Tau and the benefits and comforts of their technology, but many more do not, particularly as it is understandably difficult to overcome literally thousands of years of institutionalized FantasticRacism if nothing else. Tau-sympathizers versus Throne-loyalists is a common source of civil divide on Imperial worlds which border the Tau Empire, and is understandably seen as a "moral threat" by Imperial authorities.
* EliteArmy: The cadres of the Farsight Enclaves are few in numbers but are the most formidable armies of the Tau. Case in point, [=XV8=] battlesuit teams can be fielded as Troop Choice if you want to play the Farsight enclave.
* EmpireWithADarkSecret: Propaganda aside, there are strong hints that Ethereals use pheromones to demand the unquestioning obedience of the other Tau. They still avert the StrawHypocrite characterization that usually comes with this; the Ethereals, like their followers, absolutely believe in the Greater Good of group over self, community over group, planet over community, and race/alliance over planet. Even the renegade Farsight agrees in principle: he just disagrees, sometimes lethally, on how to achieve it.
* EnlightenedSelfInterest: Part of the philosophy of the Greater Good is that multiple species can work together and still attain their own goals (instead of killing each other, as with every other faction of TheVerse). For example, the Kroot seek new enemies to diversify their genetic material, so they work with the Tau as frontline troops to get plenty of meat and DNA. Like every slightly positive aspect of 40K, it's best not examined too closely, as [[UnreliableNarrator it's possible]] the Tau [[BrainwashingForTheGreaterGood use mind-control devices to make sure their allies don't forget about the "benefits everyone" part]].
* TheFace: The Water Caste are expert negotiators and merchants, and are a big part of the reason why the Tau Empire can [[TheAlliance form alliances]] between so many other species. With [[TheFixer connections to so many other species]], the Water Caste merchants have a wide variety of exotic goods to broker trades, in addition to their own high tech manufacturing, which gives them a lot of mercantile power. Many of them see this trading potential as a means of spreading the Greater Good by building up good trade relations across generations opening others up to Tau ideas.
* FantasticCasteSystem: The four main castes are part Hindu Varnas, part FourTemperamentEnsemble and part {{Elemental|Powers}} ThemeNaming: the Earth Caste are artisans and engineers (most of the physical work being done by drones), the Air Caste are {{Ace Pilot}}s and crew the Tau Empire's navy, the Water Caste are bureaucrats, politicians and [[CantArgueWithElves diplomats]], and the Fire Caste make up the [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy military]]--the final, ruling caste are the Ethereals.
* FantasticHonorifics: Prefixing a Tau's personal name with the caste and rank is the formal way to address them. Prefixing their personal name with just their rank is less formal, but still polite. Addressing a Tau by only their personal name is a mark of familiarity, and doing so to a Tau you hardly know is considered rude.
* FantasticRankSystem: Not only is Tau society divided into {{Fantastic Caste|System}}s by vocation, it is stratified by a Fantastic Rank System too. There are six ranks, 'saal, 'la, 'ui, 'vre, 'el, and 'o. Every Tau, regardless of parentage, begins life at the 'saal (juvenile or cadet) rank, and become a 'la once reaching adulthood. After that, the Tau is evaluated at regular intervals and promoted if their capabilities warrant it in a strictly meritocratic system. The Tau attribute no stigma to being a low rank or failing to be promoted; a Tau who remains at a low rank is commended for the duties of that rank being what they are best at, and everyone is encouraged to excel in their niche. The first part of a Tau name will always be their caste, rank, and personal name, in that order, though when being addressed just by their personal name the rank will usually be prefixed to it.
* FashionableAsymmetry: Tau infantry typically have enclosed helmets with an optics cluster offset from the central vertical axis, and [[ShouldersOfDoom broad pauldrons]], but only on their left shoulder. [[WordOfGod According to the Games Workshop concept artist who designed the Tau]], the offset optics was to make them appear more "alien" than would otherwise be suggested by their human-like frames, and the pauldrons were inspired by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashigaru Japanese ashigaru foot soldiers]], but were only placed on the shoulder that faces the enemy when aiming a rifle in order to make the influence more subtle.
* FasterThanLightTravel: Notable in that they use a different mechanism for achieving it than most other races. Other races tend to have ships [[SubspaceOrHyperspace fully enter the Warp]], travel to another system, then exit the Warp. The Tau use the "stutter drive" type, entering the Warp for only an instant and exiting some distance away. This brief jump is only short range (by interstellar standards) but their drives make many of them very rapidly. This has been likened to holding a buoyant ball under water and letting it spring out, or skipping a stone across a surface. The net effect is much slower interstellar travel than other methods, but also much safer and more reliable travel.
* TheFederation: Still imperialist, but quite a bit less evil than the other factions.
* {{Fictionary}}: One of the better realized examples in the series. Tau words tend to be composed of smaller particle words combined to make up a more complex concept (much like many real world languages) with each particle [[PunctuationShaker separated by apostrophes]]. As many particles are reused between words, many patterns become evident when studying many of the words in the fluff, which can sometimes lead to understanding a few nuances on their use.
:::For example, the Tau word "Mont'ka" is given the translation "Killing blow" and refers to the strategy of concentrating force on a target's most critical places. Likewise, "Mont'au" is given the translation "The Terror" and refers to the period before the Ethereals brought the Tau'va, when Tau would slay one another. The Tau word "Mont'yr" is translated as "Blooded", referring to one who has seen battle. The particle "Mont" is part of each of these words, and from that we can infer that it is a core part of Tau words with connotations of death and fear.
* FlatEarthAtheist: The Tau have next to no Warp signature and don't use it for travel except for the bare minimum, and are therefore doubtful of the existence of "daemons", at least in a supernatural sense. To them, they're just aliens. Scary, powerful aliens.
* FlawedPrototype: The Tau are constantly innovating and pushing the envelope of their technology, so dangerous prototypes are distressingly common. In particular, early examples of their [[MagneticWeapons rail rifle]] and [[PerilousPowerSource Nova reactor-powered]] battlesuits claimed the lives of several test operators. These sacrifices are considered acceptable losses if they further the Greater Good. If these initial kinks get worked out, the devices advance onto the next "test type" stage where a limited production run of them will be issued to ranking Tau on the battlefield for live-testing. If they prove worthwhile after many battles, they may see wider deployment as resources allow. However, unlike other factions, most of these tests are to ensure both maximum operational functionality and safety procedures; their prototype rail rifle and nova reactors are no more harmful than the plasma weapons wielded by the Imperium, which are prone to overheating and vaporizing their users.
* FlechetteStorm: A minor example. Tau vehicles occasionally mount a proximity defense system that bursts out a brief storm of flechettes when an enemy attempts to strike or climb onto a vehicle at close range. This system is appropriately named "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Flechette Launchers]]".
* {{Foil}}: The Tau were deliberately designed by Creator/GamesWorkshop to be a contrast with other armies. They are optimistic, idealistic, dynamic, outreaching, and hopeful, in contrast to most everyone else who is pessimistic, cynical, stagnant, xenophobic, and in decline. Their fighting style is likewise a contrast: where most armies fight like {{Fantasy Counterpart Culture}}s of historical armies, the Tau fight more like a modern high-tech one. Finally, they're even the opposites in terms of aesthetics. Imperial equipment and architecture tend to be baroque and lavishly decorated. Chaos Architecture is both alive, gruesome and spikey. Orks decorate all their homes with a crude mimicry of trophies and symbols, and both the Eldar and their dark kin share the design aesthetics of their Imperial counterparts. The Tau? Functional design and simplicity. If it's unneeded, it's coming off the wall.
* FourFingeredHands: And hooves, and unique teeth. Imperial propaganda states that the Tau are descended from grazing bovines.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: Went from a primitive race earmarked for destruction to a new rising power which, if left unchecked, threatens to replace the Imperium as the dominant force in the galaxy.
* GalacticConqueror: This is the Tau's ultimate goal, fueled by UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans. The Greater Good demands that all eventually work together toward purposes larger than themselves, and this drives Tau expansion and imperialism. They would rather have other galactic powers submit to the Greater Good voluntarily, but those who cannot or will not accept it are obstacles to be removed.[[note]]It is worth contrasting this with the Imperium, who also hold a manifest destiny of dominating the stars. But unlike the Tau, their leadership generally understands that as laudable an ideal of purging other powers from the galaxy is, it is impractical and un-achievable, and generally content themselves with being a far-reaching galactic superpower. The Tau's ideal of uniting the galaxy when they are such a relatively small empire, have no faster-than-light communications other than messenger ships, slow FTL travel that limits even those, and are unified by a philosophy which depends on the adherence of each member and only grows more diverse and potentially conflicted as they expand, is all played to underscore their [[NaiveNewcomer naïvity]].[[/note]]
* GatlingGood: The burst cannon is a variation of the pulse rifle technology with twice the barrels, set up to rotate as it fires, mounted extensively on Tau vehicles and battlesuits as their standard anti-infantry and point defense weapons.
** Taken UpToEleven by the burst cannon mounted on the XV-104 Riptide, which is both more powerful and fires even faster than the smaller version. When {{overclock|ingAttack}}ed, it can put out enough volume of fire to even rip apart tanks simply through [[DeathOfAThousandCuts the sheer amount of hits causing even the toughest armor to buckle]].
* GenderIsNoObject: Neither the Tau nor the Kroot have any division of gender in any particular social roles, including military. It is hard enough for most races to tell the difference between the Tau sexes, as they have little sexual dimorphism beyond their primary sexual characteristics, and the Kroot have even less than that.
* {{Glamour}}: Ethereals are seen this way by other Tau, positively radiating control and wisdom as beacons of hope and the justness of Greater Good. Humans seem them as just another one of the xenos. A Tau of any other caste who spends enough of their life around Ethereals can learn to "tune-out" the awe those Ethereals project, but will still [[CompellingVoice obey any command they are given]].
* GlassCannon: A Tau army's overwhelming firepower is offset by its weakness in close combat.
* TheGreys: Though a bit taller.
* GunboatDiplomacy: They use this quite often, and are happy to back up their generous offers with a grand show of force when making them. Notably, most of the other factions skip the "diplomacy" part of this trope and move directly to the "gunboat", so that should tell you something.
* HappinessInSlavery: Used in two separate ways:
** Other species who are absorbed into the Tau Empire are treated magnanimously whether they allow themselves to be subsumed into the empire voluntarily or through conquest. A resistant power will usually have its military partially disarmed so it must rely on the Tau for protection, and will have to prove itself trustworthy before being allowed to build it back up. The Tau help their conquests to rebuild and elevate their standards of living above that they had before. Their existence is [[BreadAndCircuses generally quite comfortable]], but despite that they have still lost their sovereignty to the Tau.
** The other Tau castes themselves to the Ethereal caste. The Ethereals have the absolute loyalty of the other castes, and those other castes see the Ethereals as being messianic figures who hold wisdom that is unquestionable. With the noteworthy exception of the [[DefectorFromDecadence Farsight Enclaves]], they are more than happy to serve.
* TheHeart: The Ethereal Caste fulfill this role in Tau society. Though they have absolute authority, they are mostly content to set broad direction for the Empire and provide advice to the leaders of the other castes. They are the ones who push the Greater Good philosophy, and ensure that the other Tau operate according to its teaching. Many other Tau themselves fear that beyond the Ethereals' benevolent guidance, they would fall back into self-destructive barbarism.
* HeroicBSOD: The death of an Ethereal is devastating to Tau morale. If one is killed, the Fire Caste may panic and attempt an organized retreat.
* HeroicSafeMode: When struggling to deal with the loss of an Ethereal, the Fire Caste will continue the fight as best they can (or retreat without trampling each other) by forcing themselves to go through the motions as they process the shock.
* HigherTechSpecies: [[PlayingWithATrope Played with]], in that the Tau have a lower maximum tech level than races like humans (especially as it concerns applications of the Warp such as long range FasterThanLightTravel or TeleportersAndTransporters) but what technology they do have they understand very well and can manufacture easily. This means that when going up against a SchizoTech foe such as the Imperium, the Tau will not equal their most impressive weapons, but their more common weapons will easily outmatch that of the Imperium. For example, plasma guns are rare weapons among the Imperials, being almost a LostTechnology, while similar weapons are standard issue among Tau infantry. Also, while Imperial plasma guns are highly dangerous to use, being prone to explosive overheating, Tau guns are as reliable as Imperial lasguns while packing a lot more of a punch.
* HollywoodAtheist: To the point of ScaryDogmaticAliens.
* HonorBeforeReason:
** {{Inverted|Trope}} for the Fire Caste (at least compared to some other in-universe examples) in that they consider the trope to be, well, ''dishonorable''. They regard a LastStand as the result of an incompetent commander. Any Tau military strategy provides extensive contingency plans for falling back and rallying. Some of their military philosophies even exploit this to lure enemies into traps when they think to press their advantage.
** However, the Ethereal Caste plays this painfully straight. Because they are the spiritual leaders of the Tau and wish to keep up the zeal of the population, Ethereals have a tendency to announce a grandiose expansion sphere despite that Commanders and scientists alike may not have the proper manpower or resources, but then leave the latter to plan around how to achieve whatever unreasonable goal they set for the Empire.
* HotBlooded: The Vior'la sept, which directly translates to "Hot Blooded".
* HoverTank: One of the only two races (and 3 factions) to regularly use them. Characterized by sloping forward hulls and swiveling engine nacelles, Tau tanks lack the speed of Eldar tanks but are better armored. They have the [[AwesomePersonnelCarrier Devilfish]] for infantry transport, the [[TankGoodness Hammerhead Gunship]] for hunting armor, and the [[MissileLockOn Skyray]] for missile defense against aerial threats.
* HumanoidAliens: The proportions of their bodies are similar to humans, visibly differing mostly in skin, nose, FourFingeredHands, and camel-like feet. At some places in the fiction, the only way to tell whether someone in Fire Warrior armor is a Tau or a well-equipped Gue'vesa auxiliary is that the humans wear boots and five-fingered gloves.
* HumanPopsicle: During the Second Sphere Expansion, the Tau managed to develop reliably safe cryogenic technology. Primarily this is used to minimize consumable resource expenditure during interstellar transit, but it is also used to preserve exceptional individuals for more dire times. For example, many direct disciples of Commander Puretide were preserved this way, which is why Commander Shadowsun is "younger" than Commander Farsight, despite them being from the same generation. This also justifies why the [[WeAreAsMayflies short-lived Tau]] have some individuals whose accomplishments span a wider breadth of the Tau's history than their lifespan would normally allow.
* HumongousMecha: For a long time, the Tau {{averted|Trope}} this, as they considered giant robots to be impractical from an engineering and technological standpoint. They also doubted the existence of Imperial Titans, believing them to simply be Imperial propaganda to intimidate opponents, which [[CurbStompBattle ended very badly for them]] when Titans were actually used against them since the Tau had no effective way to counter them. Since then, the Tau have begun to adopt such machines. The first was the [=XV104=] "Riptide" battlesuit, smaller than even a scout Titan but twice the height of the other large battlesuits, along with later variants like the [=XV107=] R'Varna and [=XV109=] Y'vahra. Later, the Tau developed enormous Ballistic Suits which are more like walking tanks than smaller battlesuits and are designed for taking on larger enemy weapons. The KV-128 Stormsurge was specifically designed as a a "Titan killer", and the massive KX-139 Ta'unar Supremacy Armour is even larger, capable of handling both Titans and large Tyranid beasts.
* IHaveManyNames: Tau names begin with the caste and rank, their sept of origin, and their personal name. As they advance in their careers, they will be given additional honorific names of their notable accomplishments or traits that have come to define them. While their [[OverlyLongName full name]] is only used in very formal situations, their caste and rank followed by their personal name is considered the polite shorthand way to address a Tau.
* ImprobableAimingSkills: One of the uses of [[LaserSight markerlights]] is to feed targeting data to other Tau units, where [[HeadsUpDisplay HUD projections]], target movement prediction routines, and aim-correction computers can allow the firer to use their weapons with startling accuracy. This makes units with large numbers of marklights such as Pathfinder squads a priority target for the Tau's enemies, as they are a force-multiplier for the rest of the Tau army.
* ImmunityDisability: The Tau have a weak Warp signature which means that they don't attract the the attention of the Chaos Gods. However it also means that the Tau cannot use psychic powers like the majority of the other major factions do and also have a hard time planning a battle against Psykers since they don't know anything about the Warp.
* InvisibilityCloak: Tau Stealthsuits are one of the smaller varieties of battlesuit, fitting as PoweredArmor, and equipped with an active camouflage device. Stealth team commanders are chosen from veteran Fire Warriors who show great personal initiative and are usually employed as irregulars, being given independent deployments with a broad set of operational parameters. Such missions are usually things like observing the enemy from hiding, attacking targets of opportunity, and disrupting the enemy's rear operations. When more regular Tau forces move to engage, the stealth teams will usually position themselves to assist before resuming their mission.
* ItIsBeyondSaving: More recently, the Ethereals have come to realise that certain races simply ''cannot'' be incorporated into the Greater Good because their natures are incompatible with its values, and thus order the Fire Caste to exterminate these races. Examples include the [[OurOrcsAreDifferent Orks]] and the [[HordeOfAlienLocusts Tyranids]].
* ItsRainingMen: Any Tau unit equipped with a jetpack (which includes most battlesuits) is capable of using it to do a high-altitude deep strike insertion, deploying from Mantas or Orcas (or Tigersharks in the case of drones) and using their jetpacks to arrest their fall.
* IWorkAlone: Some Crisis Battlesuit pilots adopt what is known as the Monat pattern: fighting by themselves (except perhaps for drones) and diving right into the thick of battle unsupported. Puretide's third student was apparently one, as Farsight refers to him as 'Monat-Kais' in flashbacks in the ''Farsight'' novella.
* JackOfAllStats: While the Tau are [[CripplingOverspecialization exclusively dependent on shooting]] on a tactical level, their hunter cadres are absolutely generalists on the strategic level. Cadres are intentionally over-equipped with all kinds of weaponry, armor, and vehicles, and the Fire Warriors cross-train heavily for a variety of different mission roles and operation types. So for example, they could be moving on foot one mission to infiltrate and set up an ambush for an approaching force, or they could mount up and roll out as a heavy armored company for an offensive push the next mission.
* {{Jetpack}}: The Tau mount these extensively on most varieties of battlesuit, giving otherwise ponderous war machines substantial mobility. They are broadly similar to jump packs used by other factions, but contain additional gyroscopic stabilization and computer-controlled thrust vectoring to ensure a stable firing platform while in mid-jump, allowing Tau battlesuits to rain down the fire while on the move.
* JustTheFirstCitizen: The Tau language has over two dozen subtle distinctions of the phrase "[[LanguageEqualsThought first among equals]]". These are used to describe the many varieties of seniority and honor among the higher ranks and castes.
* KnightInSourArmor: While the Tau as a whole are presented as {{Wide Eyed Idealist}}s, many of the Tau characters in the fiction who have survived long enough have seen for themselves [[CrapsackWorld what kind of universe they inhabit]] (despite what [[PropagandaMachine the Por'hui media]] claims) and have come to understand [[SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids just how naïve their faction's idealism is]]. Despite that, they remain loyal and dutiful, some philosophizing ([[BigBrotherIsWatching privately]]) that [[TheAntiNihilist striving toward those ideals is more important than achieving them]].
* KnowWhenToFoldEm: Rather quickly, as it turns out. Tau prefer giving up fortresses and bases to making last stands.
* LaserBlade: The Farsight Enclaves have developed Fusion Blades, which allow Fusion Blasters to be used as this.
* LaserSight: Tau make extensive use of "markerlights" that improve other units' chances to hit an enemy target, or to [[{{Roboteching}} guide seeker missiles]].
* LawOfInverseRecoil: Used in an interesting way. Tau pulse weapons, owing to the fact that their rounds are extremely low mass (though high velocity) have almost no recoil. This tends to surprise professional human soldiers who manage to get their hands on one in the field, after seeing [[BlownAcrossTheRoom the effect those pulse weapons have on targets]]. The [[GatlingGood Burst Cannon]], owing to its [[MoreDakka rate of fire]], does have a noticeable muzzle-climb, but it is slight enough that vehicles' and battlesuits' firing computers automatically adjust aim to compensate for it, and even an infantry unit can (theoretically) manage it with a good grip.
* LetUsNeverSpeakOfThisAgain: Good luck getting any Tau from the official septs to say anything about the [[DefectorFromDecadence Farsight Enclaves]]. While not exactly a cover-up (Commander Farsight was too big a hero in the Tau media to outright deny), the idea that there is a rogue Tau state outside [[HappinessInSlavery the benevolent guidance of the Etheral Caste]] is something Tau do not like to even think about, let alone speak on. Indeed, most of the Imperium's intelligence on Farsight comes via a Rogue Trader who in turn got it [[InVinoVeritas from a too-drunk Water Caste merchant]].
* LighterAndSofter: The Tau were generally seen as a lighter and softer take on the [=40k=] universe when they were first introduced, and in many ways are still such despite the various darker elements that have been added to their lore.
* LightningBruiser:
** Tau [[MiniMecha XV8 Crisis Battlesuits]] are large, strong, tough enough to resist lots of small arms fire, and can mount a diverse array of weaponry and combat support systems. But also thanks to good strength-to-weight ratios of their materials, neural interfaces, piloting-assist artificial intellignece, and a small counter gravity generator, they are quite nimble. Add to that a JetPack which allows them to navigate battlefields at speed via a series of powered leaps, and the only thing that keeps them from being complete {{Game Breaker}}s is that they are terrible when [[UnskilledButStrong swarmed in close combat]].
** Taken UpToEleven with the [[HumongousMecha XV104 Riptide Battlesuits]], which is twice the size of a Crisis suit, while being better protected than a Space Marine Dreadnought, able to absorb more punishment, mounts heavier weaponry, and is ''still'' able to quickly JetPack around. It is practically a FlyingBrick.
** Commander Farsight's personal Battlesuit has all of the above perks of the [=XV8=] ''and'' the power of the Dawn Blade, giving him the distinction of being the only Tau that can tear his enemies a new one in combat. It's also powerful enough that it allows him to cleave through tanks like a hot knife through butter.
* LongRangeFighter: To the point of CripplingOverspecialization, but damn if they are not good at it. Only the Imperial Guard and the Orks can put out [[BeamSpam more]] [[MoreDakka shots]], but the Tau hit more powerfully and, with the aid of markerlights, more accurately. Because they suck at close combat, the Tau rely primarily on the Kroot to go up close.
* MacrossMissileMassacre: Tau battlesuits and vehicles often have multiple firing missile systems, such as the missile pod or smart missile system, both of which output several small missiles at once. The missile pod tends to be a more simply-guided direct-fire variation, while the smart missile system is capable of navigating its missiles [[{{Roboteching}} around blocking terrain]].
* MadeASlave: Though they do not call it that, one of the darker sides to the Tau's philosophy is that everyone must serve the Greater Good eventually, whether willing or not. Some of the fluff suggests that those who resist the Tau and do not accept the Greater Good after surrendering are put into single-sex concentration camps to be re-educated. [[TheQuisling Those who do eventually accept]] are given more comfortable accommodations and allowed more agency to further the Greater Good. Those who do not accept are put to labor for the Greater Good, with the hope that their labors will teach them something about working not for the self [[TheNeedsOfTheMany but for the many]]. That said, the Tau make sure all their prisoners' basic needs are met, do not engage in unnecessary torture, sacrifice, arbitrary executions, or work the prisoners to death, [[ALighterShadeOfGrey which puts them above]] a lot of the other users of this trope [[CrapsackWorld in this setting]].
* MagneticWeapons: This is the Tau's signature for weaponry.
** Their pulse rifles are technically coilguns, albeit ones that cause their physical ammunition to break down into an energy state while in transit down the barrel. They are only distinguished from "plasma guns" (when the term is used in the rest of the setting) in that the ammunition being excited to a plasma happens in the weapon itself, rather than in a reactor that "bottles" it for later discharge.
** Railguns are mounted on their [[TankGoodness Hammerhead Gunships]]. A lighter version with two barrels is carried by [[MiniMecha XV88 Broadside Battlesuits]] and Pathfinder snipers carry an even smaller variant.
* ManlyMenCanHunt: The Tau art of war is heavily compared to hunting up to the military doctrines, and the Fire Caste keeps its traditions of hunter-gatherers in a codified form.
* MeatVersusVeggies: Tau are herbivorous while Kroot are carnivorous. It's zigzagged how much the two races resent each other over it, with the Tau's shame-happy propaganda and the Kroot's snarky, [[CringeComedy pseudo-sadistic]] demeanor. As a whole the trope lands somewhere on the subverted side oft things, since the Tau are aware the Kroot can ''only'' eat meat.
* MechaExpansionPack: The Crisis and Broadside [[MiniMecha battlesuits]] have a common chassis, simplifying [[EasyLogistics their logistics somewhat]] as they share parts. Both models (though the Crisis suits moreso) have universal hardpoints designed to accommodate a wide variety of weapons and combat support systems, allowing the suits to be configured for different mission types and to counter a variety of different threats. In an interesting twist, Crisis suits are one of the few Games Workshop models that are seemingly intentionally designed for players to swap out equipment packs, as their slots are tight enough to hold the weapons and wargear in place with pure friction as well as come with every possible upgrade (at the time) the suit can take.
** This has since changed partly with 6th edition, and thoroughly so with 7th edition. The current generation of the [=XV88=] Broadsides, are described as being completely independent chassis of its own now, designed from data collected from the original which had its Railguns mounted ShoulderCannon style as mentioned above[[note]]The lore reason given, was that the original versions were far to cumbersome with the original loadout[[/note]]. The current version, while heavily influenced by the Crisis suit, is now its own machine that's significantly larger, and replaced the railguns with heavy railrifles in a side by side ArmCannon mounting and aimed like a sniper rifle, moving the secondary weapons to a single shoulder hardpoint mount. Because of these changes however, current generation Braodsides have their own MechaExpansionPack equipment what let's them replace the heavy rail rifles for high-yield missile pods for anti-infantry duty, and they can also now mount a single-shot seeker missile mounted on the backpack.
** The Crisis suit in the meantime, thanks to its versatility, has allowed for a wide variety of AceCustom variants, and experimental equipment to be tested on it. Likewise, a series of new [=XV8"x"=] suits that are heavily based upon the Crisis have been produced, such as the [=XV85=] "Enforcer", a Command variant that put's emphasis into protection, and loadout capacity, or the [=XV86=] "Coldstar", a full-fledged flight capable suit with rapid reaction in mind, with a [[MoreDakka high-output]] [[GatlingGood burst cannon]], both of which retain the ability to quickly tailor weapons or support systems as needed.
* MechanisticAlienCulture
* MedievalStasis: Averted. The Tau are the only race who have made significant technological advances in the last 10,000 years (besides the Tyranids, who are constantly evolving).
* TheMentor: In his later years, Commander Puretide took on several students in the hopes of imparting his wisdom in war to them. The three greatest of them were Commander Farsight, Commander Shadowsun and Shas'o Kais.
* MindOverManners: Something that the Ethereals regularly engage in. Though they can give a command to any other Tau and will be obeyed without question, they generally prefer to explain their orders when they can, occasionally using {{koan}}s or [[TricksterMentor trick debates]] to allow other Tau to reach the conclusion they already had in mind. This is done because the Ethereals' CompellingVoice only seems to work when talking in person (giving credit to the "mind-control pheromones" theory) and [[PragmaticVillainy since Ethereals cannot be everywhere at once]], they have [[MoreThanMindControl gradually cultivated Tau culture to obey them even without compulsion]].
* MiniMecha: Any Tau battlesuit with an "8" in the first digit of its designation will classify as this.
* MissileLockOn: Tau seeker missiles are very fast, have great endurance, and their programmable warheads allow them to serve in both an anti-air and anti-armor capacity, but they require a lock-on from a [[LaserSight markerlight]] designating their target before they will fire. The usual usage of this trope is {{subverted|Trope}} though, as seeker missiles fly so quickly that all but the most attentive pilots will not even realize they have been locked onto before they have time to attempt a HighSpeedMissileDodge.
* MonochromaticEyes: Tau eyes are always depicted as being of a solid color all the way through. However, [[DependingOnTheWriter depending on the depiction]], they are portrayed as being red in official artwork model painting, but solid black in some of the fiction. Presumably because red looks more obvious than black on a model on the tabletop (where black might suggest ''[[EyeScream missing]]'' eyes.)
* MoreThanMindControl: The Ethereal's uncanny control over the rest of the Tau remains unexplained, since inquisitorial investigations show no plausible explanation for their influence, the effects are beyond what a lifetime of indoctrination will give, and yet some Tau like Farsight seem to be unfazed.
* MysteriousBenefactor: The Ethereals. However good or bad they are aside, not even their detractors know where they come from or how they came to be. One fan theory is that the Eldar created them to organise the Tau into a potential subservient allied race.
* NaiveNewcomer: Though reality is beginning to sink in.
** Their natural resistance to Warp phenomena due to their lessened Warp presence, combined with the relatively low amounts of Chaos raiders in their sector of the galaxy, means they are especially naive about daemons and Chaos worshipers. One early fluff article actually references them facing against a Slaaneshi warband and misunderstanding the references to their patron god to instead be references to the warband's leader.
* TheNeedsOfTheMany: The Greater Good is, as far as it's been explained, a sort of patriotic utilitarianism; rather than literally counting who will benefit, it demands that the Tau choose to benefit the largest idea of "us" possible.
* NeuralImplanting: A part of the Tau's education system, and a way in which they manage to cram enough learning into their relatively short lives to keep their technology advancing at the rate it is. "Didactic modules" are implanted in Tau at various states of maturity beginning as infants with others implanted at various stages. The limitation is that these modules can only impart factual data, and the access speed of them is generally slower than something learned organically. Thus, Tau education supplements these with lots of drilling and practice of the information most pertinent to each Tau's particular caste (Fire caste members train with weapons, Water caste members train in speaking languages, Earth caste members train operating and maintaining equipment, Air caste members train in flight simulators, etc.)
* NomDeGuerre: Fire Caste warriors who attain sufficient fame will gain an official nickname in relation to their defining feats. Farsight and Shadowsun are the most known examples.
* TheNoseless: The Tau are almost RubberForeheadAliens, except that their nose is concave instead of convex as it is in humans, as a single slit running up and down the center of their face from above the mouth to well past the eyes. There is some variation in it though. For example, the Etheral caste is distinguished by a diamond-shaped crest of bone in the center of their slit. [[ActionGirl Commander Shadowsun]] has a slit that parts halfway up into a Y-shape, though it is unknown if this is characteristic of all female Tau.
* NotSoDifferent: Expect this trope to come up in any story with interaction between the Tau and the Imperium of Man. Each side convinced of its own virtue and the wrongness of the other, each one holding its adherents up to an impossible ideal. Some characters will even bring this up, though the tone will shift depending on who says it and why. Tau will often use it as a HannibalLecture about how it would not be a large step for a human to accept the Greater Good. Humans by contrast will use this in a HannibalLecture of their own, cynically explaining that the Tau are no better than the Imperials, the Imperials just admit their darkness more freely than the Tau.
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: {{Inverted|Trope}} with the Water Caste. Their role as bureaucrats is to make the other castes function more comfortably and efficiently. As a rule, they are very good at this job too.
* OneSteveLimit: {{Averted|Trope}}. There are at least three, possibly four, different distinct characters in the fluff all named "Kais". One from [[AllThereInTheManual the Tau codex]], one from [[TheLastChancers a novel]], and [[VideoGame/FireWarrior one]] or [[VideoGame/DawnOfWar two]] from VideoGames, all refering to different characters. "Kais" means "skillful" in Tau, and is presumalby a common given name among them.
* OurSoulsAreDifferent: Tau, like all sentients, have a presence in the Warp. However, that presence is duller and dimmer than that of humans, and orders of magnitude less than that of Eldar. This has the effect of giving them some degree of natural resistance (though not necessarily immunity) to daemonic influence. This is also the reason why no psykers have ever been born to the Tau--their connection with the Warp is too weak for such powers to manifest among them.
* OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions: The Tau cop this attitude, looking down on races like humans as being crude and superstitious. Except in this setting, ''[[FlatEarthAtheist those superstitions are true]]''. Some of the writing from Tau perspective suggests that many Tau do get an inkling of what unexplainable horrors lurk in the galaxy, but it is not considered politically correct to mention it.
* PerilousPowerSource: Fire Caste leaders had been asking for a battlesuit which was bigger, tougher, and more heavily armed for a long time to help bridge the strategic gap between the Tau's forces and enemy war machines like Ork Stompas and Imperial Warhounds. However, the proposed designs were unworkable until a power source both small enough and strong enough could be manufactured. The Earth Caste eventually discovered such a power source in the form of the nova-reactor, a small dark-matter based power plant which was sufficient to support the power needs of the new enlarged battlesuits like the [=XV104=] Riptide series. While it is perfectly safe while running at normal levels, when the demand for output gets too high, the power surge scales up quickly and unpredictably, risking an emergency discharge which can potentially damage the Riptide. Thus, [[TimTaylorTechnology running its systems at full power capacity]] is something to be done only when the risks of not doing so outweigh the risks of doing so.
* PhlebotinumHandlingRequirements: Tau armored units use a genescanning system to prevent hijacking, as demonstrated when an Imperial commando tried to use a battlesuit and [[SelfGuardingPhlebotinum got electrocuted for his trouble]].
* PintsizedPowerhouse: Pulse Rifles and Rail Rifles are slim, streamlined weapons that pack an incredible punch for their size. A Pulse Rifle can knock a Space Marine on his back, while a Rail Rifle can punch a hole ''through'' him.
* PlasmaCannon: Like forces such as the Imperial Guard, the Tau make wide use of energy weapons, but unlike the [[FrickinLaserBeams laser-based weapons]] of the Guard, the Tau use more powerful plasma-based weaponry:
** Pulse rifles (including their carbine, burst cannon, and pistol variations) are the most common Tau weapon, issued to line infantry. Unlike most plasma weaponry technology, the ammunition is inert until fired, at which point the induction of the firing mechanism causes the solid-state ammunition to excite to a plasma state as it transitions down the barrel, becoming almost PureEnergy by the time it leaves. The result hits a little less hard than most kinds of plasma weaponry, but with better reliability and effective range, and still exceeds the stopping power of most other non-plasma small arms, including bolters.
** The Tau also make use of more "conventional" plasma technology, similar to that of other races where the ammunition is put into a volatile plasma state and then stored in high pressure magnetic bottles. While this lacks the range of the pulse rifle, it does have a more powerful effect and is better at cooking a hard target inside its own armor. The model most favored by the Tau is often mounted as a primary weapon on battlesuits, and is a little underpowered compared to other races, but is also much more reliable and does not suffer nearly the failure rate or user-endangerment that characterize most other plasma weapons.
** Ion weaponry (which instead of shooting plasma ''at'' a target, turns the target itself ''into'' plasma) was given to the Tau by the Demiurg[[note]](for which the Tau gave them the nickname "Bentu'sin" or "Wise Gifted Ones" in the Tau language)[[/note]]. Traditionally mounted on vehicles as a medium weapon for dealing with heavy infantry or light vehicles, the Tau have recently developed smaller models for infantry use. In an attempt to further close the power gap between them and their adversaries, the Earth Caste has experimented with increasing the power fed into the weapons. This can produce a much more devastating effect when overriding the power governor by causing targets to literally burst from within in an explosion of plasma, but also exposes the firer to much more risk as the ion cannon runs beyond its operational safety limits.
* PowerFist: The Tau avoid melee whenever possible, so it is surprising that they have developed their own version, but they have. It was originally developed as a battlesuit weapon during the Damocles Crusade to deal with Imperial armored vehicles in extended campaigns where ammunition became scarce, and it remains very uncommon out of preference. However, when a battlesuit strikes with it, it hits with the force of a full railgun.
* PraetorianGuard: Bodyguard Teams decked out in XV8 suits protect Tau commanders.
* PropagandaMachine: The Tau Por'hui media is composed of Water Caste members who have the job of reporting on empire-wide events and evangelizing the Tau Empire with transmissions outside their own borders. While they do not fabricate information, they do only give it selectively to put the most optimistic spin on it. While the Tau Empire itself is very stable and prosperous, the reason for this lying by omission is to keep the population from realizing just how unlikely they are to reach their goal of uniting the galaxy under the Greater Good, given the Tau's slow [[FasterThanLightTravel FTL travel]], lack of super-luminal communication, and the fact that most of the galaxy is simply not interested in joining.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: The Fire Caste, at any rate, and less violent than most.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: The Eight, Farsight and his TrueCompanions. They are Farsight himself, a Tau who relies on the life support in his Battlesuit to survive, a Tau who isn't even a member of the Fire Caste, the [[LegacyCharacter latest carrier of a title belonging to one of Farsight's most loyal soldiers]], a Tau who was saved from being lobotomized by Farsight, an AI based on Farsight's mentor, the commander who commands the Farsight Enclaves while Farsight is away and a young pyromaniac who recently defected from the Tau Empire.
* {{Realpolitik}}: Characteristic of Tau / Imperium relations.
** For example, in the wake of the Damocles Crusade, many Imperial worlds were stripped of their defenders in order to make a stand at Macragge against [[HordeOfAlienLocusts Hive Fleet Behemoth]]. The Tau expanded their empire in the wake of the Imperial muster, going into now-defenseless systems and offering to protect them in exchange for annexation rights. Those who would not accept the deal were simply {{curb stomp|Battle}}ed as most of their defenses were already removed. The Tau defend their aggressive actions by saying that if they had not "expanded defensive interests" to those Imperial worlds than other, less {{benevolent|AlienInvasion}} powers would have taken them anyway before the Imperium could build its forces back up to keep them.
** While the Imperium of course wants to be rid of the Tau eventually, they generally refrain from taking direct offensive action against them, except to try and liberate Imperial worlds that the Tau have annexed, preferring instead a policy of trying to contain the Tau Empire's expansion. This is in part because of the huge drain of military resources that would be required to completely rout the Tau, but it also is because the Tau Empire functions as a bulwark against Tyranid hive fleets, Orks, and other local powers around the Eastern Fringe where the Imperium's power is limited. As long as the Tau Empire exists, it will distract other potential threats away from Imperial worlds, and the Imperium is only too happy to let that happen.
* RenegadeSplinterFaction: Farsight's Enclaves.
* ReportingNames: The "XV" designation of battlesuits is an Imperial convention, derived as a phonetic truncation of their proper name, "Her'ex'vre" which translates as "Mantle of the Hero". This is why the most common class of battlesuits is "[=XV8=]", being the largest battlesuit in the single-digit size range due to [[FourFingeredHands the Tau counting by base eight]].
* RevengeBeforeReason: If an Etheral is killed while in a theater of war, the other Tau present typically go through several stages. First they [[LosingTheTeamSpirit fall back in a panic]], then [[HeroicBSOD go into stunned inactivity while they try to come to grips with what happened]], then [[HeroicSafeMode gradually try to return to their duties by numbly going through the motions]], which eventually gives way to [[TranquilFury a cold anger over what was done]]. An opposing force had better press its advantage during this time, because at the end of this period the Tau drop their normal policies of allowing [[SinkTheLifeBoats a retreating enemy to withdraw]] or [[LeaveNoSurvivors accepting their surrender]], and [[ItsPersonal their new objective]] becomes to [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge kill as many of the foe as they can]].
* {{Roboteching}}:
** The Tau's seeker missles function like this. A unit somewhere on the battlefield requests a seeker missile launch via a [[LaserSight markerlight]], the missile launches off its mounting on a nearby vehicle, shoots up into the air (regardless of original orientation) then cruises along until it can fly straight into the target.
** Likewise, the Tau's smart missile systems, which fire a salvo of [[MacrossMissileMassacre several missiles at once]]. These missiles are small, low velocity, short range, and have a very modest payload, but are self-guided and capable of nimbly weaving around blocking terrain to seek their targets, making them ideal for clearing out infantry hiding in heavy cover that would otherwise protect them from the Tau's more typical high power, long range weaponry.
* ScaryDogmaticAliens: There is a good reason why they are sometimes referred to as "Blue Space Communists."
* SchizoTech: {{Averted|Trope}} with the Tau themselves, but present with the allied societies inducted into the Tau Empire.
* {{Seppuku}}: The Tau call this Malk'la, and it might be demanded by the Etherals of a high-ranking Tau who causes [[YouHaveFailedMe a serious breach of conduct]]. The ritual is not described, but is said to [[TakeOurWordForIt scar all who see it]].
* SergeantRock: A Cadre Fireblade is a high ranked Fire Warrior who declined the offer to pilot a Battlesuit, either preferring to continue to fight along side their Fire Warrior unit or feeling it to be a practical necessity. Though a Fireblade is unable to attain the Shas'O rank, he still is considered extremely important to the Tau Empire.
* SeriesContinuityError: A minor example. Ace Hammerhead pilot Longstrike was said to make his reputation during the Tau conquest of T'ros by managing to [[SnipingTheCockpit Snipe The Cockpit]] of a Warhound Titan, breaking the momentum of the Imperial advance. While a Warhound Titan was destroyed during the T'ros (Taros) campaign, it was destroyed by a Tigershark AX-1-0 bomber equipped with Manta-scale railguns, which would have been piloted by air caste crew and not a Fire caste tank gunner.
* ShinyLookingSpaceships: Notable in contrast to the Imperium, which has very old space ships with baroque hulls that make them resemble space cathedrals. [[TheLastChancers The 13th Penal Legion's]] Lt. Kage once noted to himself how odd he felt the interior of a Tau ship was, finding the cleanliness and quietness of the ship's interior to be [[ItsQuietTooQuiet rather unnerving]] in contrast to the [[UsedFuture well-lived-in]] state of most Imperial ships. {{Justified|Trope}} by the fact that most Tau ships are almost brand new by the standards of the setting, and have not had much opportunity to build up a history of wear-and-repair like their counterparts among other species. As well, the Tau's continued technological advancement inverts the series' usual rule of thumb that older technology is better technology, so ships that get too out of date are either refurbished with updated technology or retired and replaced with newer classes of ship.
* ShortRangeLongRangeWeapon: [[AcceptableBreaksFromReality Concessions to the scale of the tabletop aside]], the Tau try to {{avert|ed trope}} this as much as possible, as they fare poorly if they are not given the opportunity to line up a good shot. To facilitate this, the small circular device near the tip of the barrel on most pulse weapons is actually a gyroscope housing that is part of a fire-by-wire system which automatically corrects for shaking hands and gravity to keep the barrel level and on target even at extreme range, so that a firer need not close the distance to ensure an accurate shot.
* ShoutOut: The Battlesuits, unsurprisingly, contain many nods to the ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'' series in their designs.
** The XV-88 series is an obvious homage to ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'''s RX-77 Guncannon, with its similar model number and twin shoulder cannons and arm-mounted missile launchers.
*** The updated Sixth Edition XV-88s now boasts a larger hull and a standard armament in the shape of a [[{{BFG}} Rail Rifle]] that requires both of its arms to carry... Sniper GM or Zaku, anyone?
** Commander Farsight's Custom Crisis Battlesuit sports a [[CharClone red paintjob and silver helmet]].
** One of the Hazard suits' weapons is a [[GatlingGood double burst cannon]] which is often twin-linked, in the style of ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz]]'''s Heavyarms.
** The Riptide, is pretty blatantly the Full Armor [[Anime/MobileSuitGundamZZ ZZ Gundam]]. Not only is it a bigger, beefier version of the classic Crisis suit, it can fire off a MacrossMissileMassacre and has a super powerful energy weapon that's very risky to use.
** Conversely, the Forge World-made [[HumongousMecha KX139 Ta'unar Supremacy Armour]] resembles a [[Anime/{{Robotech}} Destroid]] with its multi-barrel {{Arm Cannon}}s and several artillery-style over-the-head ShoulderCannon barrels.
* SkilledButNaive: The Tau are very good at what they do. The Earth Caste's scientists produce some of the greatest weapons of the galaxy, the Water Caste's bureaucrats and ambassador actually run the Empire smoothly, the Air Caste's pilots and Fire Caste Warriors are a match for any army from the Imperium (of similar size) or a (minor) Tyranid Hive Fleet. But the thing is that they are unaware of the real state of things in the galaxy, naively thinking that the Imperium is weak, or not even being aware of the Chaos Gods.
* SmallNameBigEgo: The Tau Empire is convinced that they will sweep through the galaxy spreading the word of the Greater Good or conquering the stubborn, and build a galactic empire. In reality, they are way over their head as they are actually a tiny territory of less than forty planets in a backwater province of the million-planets-wide Imperium, none of the other major factions are willing to join the Tau, and the Tau's insensibility to the Warp makes them blissfully unaware that there is a whole parallel dimension full of mad daemons ready to bring ruin to the Materium.
* SniperRifle:
** The Tau [[MagneticWeapons Rail Rifle]] is a misnomer, as railguns do not use rifling, but it does fit a marksmen's niche. Earlier FlawedPrototype models were subject to occasional [[ExplosiveInstrumentation unexpected capacitor discharge]], potentially injuring or killing the wielder, but the Earth Caste eventually [[TechnologyMarchesOn ironed out that glitch]]. For safety reasons, most of those rifles were mounted on special [[AttackDrone weapon drones]] instead of carried by infantry. Even though they are safer now than they were before, the practice of mostly using drones to carry and fire them stuck for a while.
** Recently "Longshot" pulse rifles have come into vogue among Tau sniper teams, a variation on their traditional pulse rifle technology with an even greater range and precision. They lack the penetrative qualities of the rail rifle, but in turn can fire more rapidly and do so more effectively on the move than the rail rifle could.
* SpaceColdWar: Effectively the state of Imperium/Tau relations since the end of the Damocles Gulf Crusade. While they do engage in small-scale clashes over one world or star system, for the most part, neither side wants to get embroiled in a full-scale war. From the Imperium's point of view, while they would win a war against the Tau in the long run, it would mean stripping military resources from other parts of the galaxy to commit to such a campaign, and the threat of other foes of the Imperium using that to gain ground is too great. The Tau recognise that, while they wish to expand, they cannot provoke the Imperium too openly, lest the humans simply decide to wipe them out and deal with the consequences of such an endeavour afterwards.
* SpaceRomans: The Tau culture is a pastiche of various Eastern philosophies and civilizations. Also, an important but often overlooked inspiration for the Tau is that of UsefulNotes/TheBritishEmpire [[RecycledInSpace IN SPACE]]! A small "island" nation which expands outward, claiming territory, absorbing indigenous populations as best they can, laying down infrastructure and spreading their culture where ever they go, and having an influence far in excess of their own modest numbers.
* StealthPun:
** Tau call humans "Gue'la". This is ''awfully'' similar to the Cantonese insult "gweilo" for Westerners when pronounced just right, as ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar'' players discovered.
** The first digit in a Tau battlesuit's designation is its size class, ranging from one for form-fitting PoweredArmor to eight for MiniMecha. This is in keeping with the Tau's base-eight counting system, as Tau have FourFingeredHands. However, [[http://www.forgeworld.co.uk/Warhammer-40000/Tau/TAU-BATTLESUITS-AND-DRONES/XV9-HAZARD-CLOSE-SUPPORT-ARMOUR.html Forge World makes a line]] of [[CanonForeigner questionably-canon]] battlesuits which are slightly larger than that and are designated with a nine. Which means that when expressed in a base-eight system, those battlesuit's sizes are taken UpToEleven.
*** Up To ''Twelve'' if you count the new XV'''10'''4 Riptide Battlesuits.
** The way the Tau army functions is a bit of a stealth pun. In order for the army to be anywhere near effective, all the units must work together in perfect harmony. In other words, in order to succeed, your units have to work towards the greater good.
* SuperPrototype: Once Tau technology moves beyond the FlawedPrototype stage, it is often given a limited production run and issued to ranking Tau to test on the battlefield. These test types are usually only found a few in any given Hunter Cadre, and are often quite powerful. However, they may [[NewTechIsNotCheap require rare materials or be difficult to manufacture]], and thus their battlefield effectiveness needs to be heavily scrutinized to determine if they are worth mass producing for wider deployment. Sometimes the answer is "yes" and they become common place, other times the answer is "no" and they remain only in limited production.
* TargetSpotter: The primary function of Markerlights, which feed targeting data to the Tau's battle network. That data can then be used by smart weapon systems to enhance aim, identify lethal projectile paths through cover, or call in Seeker Missile strikes. Pathfinder teams are units of Fire Warriors who specialize in performing this role, and are equipped to facilitate that.
* TooDumbToLive: What the rest of the Galaxy consider them as in regards to [[TheCorruption Chaos]], the [[TheLegionsOfHell horrors of the Warp]], and [[EverythingTryingToKillYou various other nasties]].
* ToxicPhlebotinum: The Tau were able to successfully miniaturize their ion weapon technology once they discovered an isotope of iridium which can be manufactured as a large metal slug, heavily charged up, and inserted into an infantry-portable weapon. Exposing the substance to air causes it to recharge, drawing more power from its core and readying it for use; popping open the chamber and leaving it open while readying a shot can even [[TimTaylorTechnology increase its power]]. Unfortunately, this process also gives off low levels of harmful radiation. For this reason, Tau who are issued ion rifles are rotated through their weapon assignments every few months to prevent excessive radiation poisoning, though one who abuses the charging properties of their weapon risks lethal exposure.
* TranquilFury: Killing an Ethereal typically causes the other Tau to go into shock. Once they get over that, however, they will ''hunt you down'', [[TheSlowWalk advancing boldly]] behind [[BeamSpam a fusillade of plasma fire]].
* TribalFacepaint: An old practice by the plains-hunting tribes in Tau pre-history, which is still practiced by their modern descendants in the Fire Caste, except they paint their armor and guns rather than their faces. These paints usually take the form of careful parallel straight lines done primarily on helmets and rifles in Sept colors, with some secondary lines on the torso, legs, and shoulders. This is often the only clashing color alongside otherwise drab uniforms.
* TrickBomb: The Tau make exclusive use of this in their grenades:
** [[BlindedByTheLight Photon Grenades]]: High-tech flashbangs, either hand thrown or shot out of a pulse carbine's integrated GrenadeLauncher. The Tau employ them primarily as defensive weapons to disrupt charging enemies to give their pulse weapons more time to gun them down, or offensively in the rare circumstances they have to breach and clear an enclosed area.
** [[{{EMP}} EMP Grenades]]: Hand-delivered anti-machine weapons. The Tau use them exclusively in an anti-equipment role, disabling tanks or parked aircraft and taking them out of the fight until they can be serviced, but without many of the risks to the operator placing them that more overtly destructive ordinance might involve. They are particularly a favorite of infiltrating Pathfinder teams when disrupting the enemy's rear operations.
* TrueCompanions:
** Fire Warrior squads sometimes undergo a ritualistic [[BloodBrothers blood-mingling ceremony]], which translates into improved morale on the tabletop.
** The Eight, consisting of Commander Farsight and seven of his most trusted allies.
* TheUnfavourite: Much like the Dark Eldar before them (though to a lesser degree) the Tau went more than six years and the entirety of Fifth Edition without an up-to-date codex. However, the Sixth Edition Tau Codex brought the army up to a competitive standard, with [[CompetitiveBalance rebalanced]] forces and new units to employ, and the 7th edition codex has made the Tau one of the strongest armies in the game.
* UnskilledButStrong: Tau battlesuits range in size from PoweredArmor to MiniMecha and are as strong and tough as you would expect such combat systems to be. However, their operators are very poor at close range fighting, and will often find themselves outmaneuvered and taken down by weaker foes.
* UnstoppableRage: Any Tau who manages to withstand the HeroicBSOD of the death of their Ethereal becomes a truly terrifying force of [[BeamSpam plasma-spewing death]].
* UpThroughTheRanks: To reach Shas'O (commander) rank, you have to start as a basic Fire Warrior and pass through multiple trials of fire (usually surviving a dangerous mission or passing a difficult combat exercise) to progress through the ranks. There are no shortcuts, so every commander has started out as a basic infantryman.
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: The Tau KickTheDog only subtly, and when they do this is almost always the motivation. Conquered populations are inducted into the philosophy of the Greater Good, their populations subject to selective sterilization to keep them from growing faster than the Tau can indoctrinate them. Troublemakers are placed in guarded [[BrainwashingForTheGreaterGood reeducation camps]] and determined recidivists are made to [[ReleasedToElsewhere simply disappear and are never heard from again]].
* {{Veganopia}}: It is stated by at least one Inquisitor that Tau apparently do not eat meat. However, it is stated elsewhere that the Fire Caste still engage in ceremonial game hunts. It appears that the Fire Caste is the only Tau caste which does eat meat, and even then only in a ritual manner. All other Tau dishes depicted in fiction have been of the non-meat variety, though starfish and other sea creatures have appeared.
* VictoryByEndurance: Most of the Tau's major conflicts with the Imperium (the Damocles Crusade, the Taros Campaign, etc.) have been resolved in the Tau's favor by this method. The Tau lack the [[WeHaveReserves massive material advantage]] that the Imperium has, but they have a much more mobile and flexible military with less of the same kind of logistics longtail that the Imperial war machine does. Thus their strategy has generally been to sap the Imperial strength with HitAndRunTactics, rear-line disruption, and [[DefensiveFeintTrap selectively giving ground]] until the Imperial authorities decide they have more pressing military business elsewhere.
* VirtualGhost: The Tau have at least one case: Commander Puretide. Puretide was regarded as a peerless military genius, and some of the Fire Caste's best commanders trained directly under him, including both Commander Farsight and Commander Shadowsun. In the last years of his life, Earth Caste technicians spent a great deal of time and resources mapping Puretide's brain and taking recordings of his teaching. After his passing, they carefully [[BrainUploading reassembled this knowledge and personality as exactly as possible]] in the form of a [[ProjectedMan holographic artificial intelligence]] so that Puretide's experience could be preserved for posterity. Even today, the most promising Fire Caste commanders will be assigned to train under the Puretide A.I.
** One of Farsight's TrueCompanions is a Battlesuit controlled by an AI based on the brain of his former superior officer.
** NeuralImplanting: The Tau have also manufactured a Puretide Bio-chip, which some Fire Caste commanders voluntarily choose to have implanted within them. This chip contains some of Puretide's recorded memory and experience, and this then becomes available to the implanted Fire Caste commander, giving them a font of old wisdom, but their personalities will be forever altered by the process.
* WalkingArmory: Most battle suits are armed with short-ranged flamers to destroy infantry, a general-purpose long-ranged rifle, missile pods for vehicles and buildings and are even accompanied by gun drones. [[MoreDakka The result is spectacular]].
* WalkingTank: Tau Ballistic Suits turn Tau warriors into walking artillery.
* WeHaveReserves:
** {{Averted|Trope}}, in that the Tau do not have an enormous recruitable population or the economy-of-scale production abilities of powers like the Imperium, but they do have a universally effecient and high-tech industry. This informs their strategic doctrine, with their forces being almost entirely mechanized and committed to mobile warfare. Since they cannot hold down large areas of terrain, their forces are swiftly re-deployed from one battlezone to the next, moving to counter enemy advances or hit them where they are vulnerable. Further, if a battle is going poorly, Tau forces will do a TacticalWithdrawal rather than lose a signifigant amount of personnel, so that the survivors can be redeployed to hit a more vulnerable flank.[[note]]Incidentally, while this means that the average Fire Warrior is less likely to be committed to a near-suicidal action than the average Imperial Guardsman, they will almost certainly see more total deployments with greater frequency, meaning their odds of surviving an entire campaign are [[CrapsackWorld not necessarily much better]].[[/note]]
** The various Gun Drones and Shield Drones are developed as a response to this, as they are meant to take the brunt of the damage that would otherwise cost a living Tau his life. They are wholly expendable, because the Tau themselves are not.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Unique in the setting in that the "well-intentioned" and "extremist" parts are roughly balanced.
* WeWillUseManualLaborInTheFuture: Strongly {{averted| trope}}. Tau industry and vessels are all highly automated, and even the lower ranks of the Earth caste, the ostensible laborers of their society, are more like equipment operators, often directing small teams of utility drones who do the actual labor.
* WeWillWearArmorInTheFuture:
** Tau metallurgy is capable of easily mass-producing a "nano-crystalline compound" called Fio'tak which is similar to ceramite used in armor by the Imperium, but is considerably lighter. This is what allows Tau to make [[HoverTank tanks light enough to hover]], and [[MiniMecha battlesuits]] light enough to nimbly JetPack around. This also allows them to ensure that even their infantry has fair protection against small arms without slowing them down with excessive weight.
** The standard Fire Warrior Armor is actually one of the few practical designs in the setting, as there is a large shield on the shoulder of the user's firing side. This allows the Fire Warrior to maximize his armor while minimizing weight, much like how ancient archers would have one arm armored against the enemy.
* WrongGenreSavvy: The Tau are young, idealistic, and wish to explore the galaxy, inviting new races into their sphere of influence. They think they're in a SpaceOpera. [[CosmicHorrorStory They're... Not.]]

[[folder: Outstanding Enforcers of The Greater Good]]
Even amongst the followers of the Greater Good, some individuals have achieved unique reputations for their dedication, skill and bravery.

!!Commander Shadowsun

->''To follow any path other than the Tauíva is to doom us all. Only together and with courage and discipline shall we stand victorious. Fight with fire and courage and nothing can stand against us.''

Once a contemporary of Commander Farsight, O'Shaserra was the youngest student of the legendary Commander Puretide. When that legendary Fire Caste leader perished, the Ethereal Council decided to avoid placing too much faith in mind-capture devices and hologramatic tutors, and chose to place several of Commander Puretide's best students in stasis to awaken them in a distant future, where they might be needed. O'Shaserra was one of those chosen, and after three centuries, she has been reawakened to lead the Third Sphere Expansion.

* ActionGirl: A rarity in 40k's special characters, who tend to be overwhelmingly male or genderless.
* BodyDouble: In order to escape the White Scars and Raven guard on Prefectia, Shadowsun's personal squad used the first mass produced [=XV22=] armors to impersonate her on the battlefield.
* CloseRangeCombatant: By Tau standards. Shadowsun equips her [=XV22=] with a pair of Fusion Blasters for {{Armor Piercing Attack}}s that are only effective at short range. Thanks to the stealth capabilities of her suit and its JetPack, she excels at moving between cover undetected to catch the enemy by surprise, do tremendous damage, and fade before they can rally for a counterattack.
* DrawAggro: During the Prefectia campaign, Shadowsun used herself as a bait because of the Space Marines' tendency to go StraightForTheCommander and lure them into ambushes, eventually killing the Chapter Master of the Raven Guard.
* FourStarBadass: Shadowsun is a ''Shas'o'', the highest rank any Fire Caste member can achieve short of retirement to an advisory role, and Shadowsun is young enough that retirement is far away. Despite being involved in planning and commanding major operations, Shadowsun is never far from the front lines and will often oversee ([[AuthorityEqualsAsskicking and participate in]]) battles personally.
* HearingVoices: On the world of Agrellan she started hearing warp echoes from the apocalyptic ''something'' that the Imperial Guard had enacted centuries earlier. [[SanitySlippage This lasts for several weeks after she leaves...]]
* IronLady: Shadowsun is shown as a cold and no-nonsense Tau who has a hard time being tactful. Even if Aun'va is present, a sight which would inspire great awe for any other Tau, she remains aloof and focused on her military duties.
* MeaningfulName: She earned her title by arranging for Tau ships in orbit to position themselves to create an artificial eclipse. The enforced twilight allowed her to lead a team of stealthsuits into the middle of an Ork encampment undetected to destroy a high-priority target and shift the campaign into the Tau's favor. Thus for the creation of this innovative tactic of blocking the light, she was honored as "Shadowsun".
* TheRival: To Commander Farsight, who she regards as an unrepentant traitor to the Greater Good and seeks to confront and defeat him one day. [[spoiler:The Ethereal caste is manipulating her in this regard, feeding her subtle lies about how Farsight hates and mocks her, just to get her to drive herself harder. After the events of the Second Agrellan Campaign, she seems to have a new respect for Farsight after he and his forces surprisingly came to her aid, even warning him to escape before the Ethereals ordered her to chase after him.]]
* StealthExpert: Her primary expertise in combat, and the element on which she built her reputation. Her experimental [=XV22=] armor was actually a prototype for a next-generation version of the Tau's stealthsuits, and she was judged the most fitting to put it through its paces.
* SuperPrototype: Shadowsun's iconic [=XV22=] Battlesuit is an experimental new Stealth battlesuit system that is still being tested before it will be deployed en masse. While the Tau have yet to find a way to mass-produce the systems that went into it, the Imperial capture of several first-generation [=XV15=] stealthsuits forced them to move up the timetable and compromise with the much bulkier [=XV25=]. For the moment, the [=XV22=] remains a prototype superior to its more clumsy derivatives.
* UnderestimatingBadassery: In ''War Zone Damocles: Kauyon'' She seriously misjudged the Space Marines, apparently thinking their AsskickingEqualsAuthority policy meant their leaders ruled by strength alone. After killing the Raven Guard chapter master she thought she had killed the King of Space Marines, which would leave them all disorganized for some time (possibly ''years'') until they selected a new leader. Of course only the Raven Guard chapter itself was really affected, and they had selected a new leader by the next morning. From the same story she also ''seriously'' underestimated the scale of the Imperial military; she thought the force she was facing in that battle was the bulk of it and a loss that would set them back for decades, when it was really little more than the vanguard of the real counter-attack (which was still a fairly minor force by Imperial standards).


->''It burns so briefly, the light of my children, so briefly. But, by the Greater Good, it burns so bright!''

Eldest and most revered of the Ethereal caste, whose hand has been felt upon many great events in the Tau's history and who is the highest member of the High Council. The Ethereal Supreme, this arch-diplomat is the spiritual heart of the Tau Empire.

* BigGood: He is the ''Aun'o'', the Ethereal Supreme and leader of the Tau Empire.
* CoolOldGuy: Aun'va is older than even other Ethereals have ever managed to live. Yet, in-universe, he is seen as so badass that this is considered only natural.
* ElCidPloy: [[spoiler: After his assassination, the Ethereals create the illusion that he is alive and well via the use of holograms, knowing that morale would be utterly broken if the Tau knew the Ethereal Supreme is dead.]]
* JokeCharacter: In 4th edition, he's widely considered to be the ''worst special character'' ever made, due to him not bringing much to the battlefield and can actually cripple your own army if he was killed. His 6th edition rules has instead made him into a support role, buffing your troops like he was supposed to in fluff.
* KilledOffForReal: [[spoiler: In the Warzone Damocles: Mont'ka book, Aun'Va is assassinated by an Imperial Culexus assassin. The Ethereal Caste cover up this fact to avoid the crippling effect it would have on Tau morale.]]
* SupportPartyMember: While most Ethereals are this, Aun'va takes it UpToEleven. His benefit to a Tau army is not from the personal power he brings to the battlefield, but from that fact that his mere presence emboldens them all, taking them to new heights of combat excellence in devotion to the Greater Good.
* VirtualGhost: [[spoiler:After his death, as mentioned above, the rest of the Ethereals in the know immediately activated a hologram in his image and personality to transmit speeches to the Tau as proof of his "survival" to prevent Tau moral from being shattered.]]
* TooImportantToWalk: And likely too old as well; he travels everywhere in an anti-gravity hover-throne.


Shas'la T'au Sha'ng is the most heralded tank ace in the Tau Empire. His legend began when he was the sole survivor of an extended battle against multiple units of Imperial armor on the planet T'ros, culminating in making multiple kills even though he was the last pilot left, most notably destroying a Warhound Titan with a single headshot.

* AcePilot: Tank pilot, but still applies.
* BoomHeadshot: During the Taros campaign, Longstrike was credited with killing an Imperial Warhound Titan with a headshot. However, the Forgeworld-produced ''Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign'' cites the kill as being made by a Tiger Shark AX-1-0 with an Air Caste pilot.
* CrewOfOne: Thanks to a combination of skill and his experimental SuperPrototype armor, the [=XV02=] Pilot Battlesuit. While most Tau vehicles are ''theoretically'' capable of using a single pilot crew, before La'Shang it was generally considered unfeasible.
* DudeWheresMyRespect: {{Averted|Trope}}; Longstrike is still a Shas'la, roughly the equivalent of a ''bunk private'', but is highly esteemed nonetheless. He remains a Shas'la because he excels as a tank gunner, and his talents would be wasted by moving him into more of a command position.
* HelmetsAreHardlyHeroic: An unusual variant in that Longstrike is a tank gunner. He still likes to poke his head out of the hatch to look directly at the battlefield and eschews sitting inside the tank where he should be protected by the armour. Games Workshop had to justify having him as a model one way or another.
* ImprobableAimingSkills: His signature talent, particularly with the turret of a Hammerhead. See BoomHeadshot.
* NotSoDifferent: To the Imperial Guard's Knight Commander Pask. Both are highly skilled tank aces who won fame by [[BoomHeadshot taking out]] a [[HumongousMecha Titan]] in a standard-issue tank, and both refuse to move up the chain of command despite their merits already warranting a higher rank.
* SurvivorGuilt: In the Warzone Damocles supplements, Longstrike is revealed as the last survivor of a group of Fire Warriors who were decimated during an earlier campaign, and he refused to have another set of TrueCompanions ever since.


An enigmatic and unsettling veteran, Sub-Commander El'Myamoto continually turns down offers to be transferred to command, despite having more than achieved it through age and skill, because he prefers fighting.

* AttackItsWeakPoint: His unique Structural Analyser wargear can identify weaknesses in a target's protection, allowing his squad to shoot at them. This manifests as lowering the Toughness of his target by 1 on the tabletop.
* ColdSniper: Not him, but his Structural Analyser facilitates this excellently for Ion Rifle or Railrifle-wielding Pathfinders by lowering the Toughness of their target. Effectively this makes him a Cold ''Spotter'' for a sniper team.
* EnemyScan: His scouter eyepiece scans targets and highlights weaknesses, calculating the exact spots on a target to best place a shot to inflict maximum trauma. This data is wirelessly shared with the rest of Darkstrider's unit, effectively reducing the toughness of anything their direct their fire at.
* MilitaryMaverick: Despite his obvious courage, heroics and successes, he refuses to move on from his position as a Pathfinder team leader and drops subtle hints to his superiors that he does not want to follow in the traditional footsteps of the Fire Caste. Given how much importance the Fire Caste places on tradition and deference to authority, this stops just short of insubordination, and only a combination of Shadowsun vouching for him and [[TheLastDJ Darkstrider's proven stellar success record]] keeps him in the field.
* SergeantRock: Like a marine Gunnery Sergeant, Fireblades like Darkstrider form an experienced counterpoint to their technically higher-ranking officers.


An elderly Ethereal who is a master with the honour blade, he became legend when what was supposed to be his last assignment, bolstering a new colony named Kel'tyr, saw him personally taking command against an Ork assault. Aun'shi led the last desperate defense, personally hewing the Ork warboss in half with one stroke, then cutting down every Ork that came at him until relief arrived.

* {{Ambadassador}}: As the only Ethereal still welcome in the Farsight Enclaves, he frequently finds himself playing this role.
* BadassGrandpa: Old enough that he should officially be retired. Still capable of [[HalfTheManHeUsedToBe splitting an Ork in two]] with [[SingleStrokeBattle one twirl]] of his honour blade.
* CloseRangeCombatant: No Ethereal trains with guns (that is what Fire Warriors are for) but they do train with the honor blade, and Aun'shi is one of the best. It is said that he once held a door alone against dozens of charging Orks, cutting them down one by one as they were forced to bottleneck through it to reach him.
* DeflectorShields: Carries a shield generator.
* DoubleWeapon: Aun'shi's Honour Blade is a long staff with sword-like blades at either end.
* GoodLuckCharm: He is considered to be one by any army who has the honour of having him embedded into them during a campaign.
* MasterSwordsman: Most Ethereals practice somewhat with the honour blade for ritualistic duels, but Aun'shi has devoted himself to perfecting the art of it.

!!Commander Puretide

->''When to stay back and command and when to lead from the front, at the highest levels, these are things a leader cannot be taught, but each must find in its own way. In the end the final arbiter is victory. Yet, I stress, to triumph with the least amount of risk must always be the goal.''

A legendary Tau Commander who is considered the greatest strategist to have ever lived. Having retired after receiving a grievous wound, Puretide now trains only the most promising students, having notably formed the [[LivingLegend Living Legends]] Commanders Shadowsun and Farsight, even beyond death as Earth Caste scientists scanned his brain and created a sophisticated hologram of him which still spreads his teachings.

* CareerEndingInjury: Puretide retired after receiving a grievous wound and became a hermit.
* {{Expy}}: Basically the Tau Sun Tzu, to the point that some of his sayings could have come straight from ''Literature/TheArtOfWar''.
* FourStarBadass: Puretide's campaigns resulted in the conquest of half a dozen star systems.
* TheHermit: Puretide retired at the top of a certain Mount Kan'ji on the planet of Da'lyth Prime. The way here is actually dangerous for any wannabe-student.
* HermitGuru: Not only a master of strategy, but also a very spiritual Tau who meditates and has reflected on the spiritual burden of a military leader.
* MasterOfAll: His grasp of warfare is said to be complete and balanced, thus Puretide excelled at applying and teaching any type of strategy. Even his most famous students have specialized in one type of military dctrine to the detriment of the other.
* TheMentor: He taught Farsight, Shadowsun and Kais.
* OldMaster: In his teaching days, Puretide retired from command and took to teaching strategy to the most promising Commanders sent to him.
* PosthumousCharacter: By the 41st Millenium, Puretide is long dead but his influence is still felt among the Fire Caste.
* VirtualGhost: Earth Caste scientists scanned his brain and replicated him into an hologram which is still able to teach strategy, but for unknown reasons, is still installed at the top of a wayward mountain.

[[folder:The Eight of the Farsight Enclaves]]
Even among the Farsight Enclaves, Commander Farsight's personal strike team and war council, known as The Eight, are legends.

!!Commander Farsight

->''Each must find their own way. If those in our heartland had witnessed the savageries of the void as have we they would know this. The hand of each of the starfarers is turned against the other; none will join their strength together just to see their ancient enemies prosper. Neither should we.''

Once a shining star of the Tau, Commander Farsight grew alienated after a brutal campaign against the Ork menace, feeling that his coalition was not receiving the continued support from the Ethereals that it deserved. This came to a climax after the battles at the Damocles Gulf, on a planet called Arthas Moloch, where mysterious aliens[[note]]revealed to be a daemonic incursion in the Supplement book[[/note]] intervened in his crusade against the Orks by killing all of his Ethereals, after which he disobeyed standard procedures and proceeded on, crossing the Damocles Gulf and founding his own empire, a string of heavily fortified strongholds upon the far side frontier that have come to be known as the Farsight Enclaves.

* AdmiringTheAbomination: Farsight is fascinated by the Orks, as they waged war for its own sake and he too liked to battle.
* AwesomenessByAnalysis: There's a reason O'Shovah is called Farsight. He is a genius a analyzing data, see weakness in the enemy line, and predict the best course of action.
* BadassBoast: Commander Farsight gives us this in the Sixth Edition codex:
--> [[Film/BladeRunner I've seen things you wouldn't believe]] - entire worlds in flames, chains of supernovas on the edge of nothingness, [[NegativeSpaceWedgie the great hole in space.]] I am changed, [[DefectorFromDecadence an outcast now...]]
* BadassGrandpa: Commander Farsight has to be at least three hundred years old by now, which is elderly even for the Ethereals and well beyond the lifespan of other Tau, yet he's still fighting. The Ethereals theorized that it was a case of [[LegacyCharacter a series of successors taking up the mantle of Commander Farsight in turn]]. [[spoiler:However, pictures from battlefields that Farsight's forces were at got back to them and proved them wrong. It's actually the same guy. Unknown to all of them, including Farsight himself, his sword leeches life from those he kills.]]
* BaseBreakingCharacter: InUniverse, there is a lot of debate amongst the Tau about whether or not Commander Farsight really is the closest thing the Tau have to the Imperial concepts of a traitor and a heretic.
* {{BFS}}: Carries a massive alien sword called the Dawn Blade, which he discovered on Arthas Moloch.
* BigDamnHeroes: When he was still a loyal member of the empire, he was known for this, and is regarded as a master of the Mont'ka "Killing Blow" form of warfare and showing up when least expected, even occasionally to the surprise of his own allies. [[spoiler:Performed one that absolutely shocked everyone involved in the Second Battle of Mu'guluth Bay/Second Agrellan Campaign, when he and his Enclave beformed a DynamicEntry upon the planet of the same name. Furthermore, he and his enclave appearance absolutely stunned Commander Shadowsun by rescuing her and her forces. Their combined forces managed to repel the bulk of the Imperial forces, and restored Shadowsun's respect in Farsight.]]
* BrokenMasquerade: Gets this big time in the incident where he discovers the Dawn Blade. He learns that there is a world outside our material universe and the supernatural is real. He also finds that Chaos can reach out to him psychically (he blacked out for several hours after hearing his name being called out in the Eye of Terror) and that the Ethereals have known and suppressed knowledge about Chaos all this time.
* CharClone: The paintjob's a dead giveaway, though his recent characterization has taken away some of his menace.
* CloseRangeCombatant: Unusually for the Tau, he heavily favors getting in close with the enemy, and heavily trains his forces in fighting at extremely short range. His experience with Orks had a strong impact on his tactical philosophy, and his lack of access to some of the Tau's more advanced technology has enforced it. His favorite tactic seems to be dropping almost on top of the enemy from an airborne deployment while leading a squad of elite battlesuit pilots to wreck their center.
* CommanderContrarian: He was originally presented as an isolationist and even xenophobic foil to the mainstream Tau Empire's openness to other races, but as the Tau's fluff has grown DarkerAndEdgier and made them more oppressive and colonialist, Farsight by contrast has been shown to be more sympathetic to humans and other aliens. It seems his only purpose in life is to be whatever the Ethereals ''don't'' want him to be.
* CoolSword: His sword, Dawn Blade, is a magical weapon and it's this weapon and a few artifacts that he's discovered that made him realize that technology alone can't save them from Chaos, he needs magic if the Tau are to survive the coming of Chaos to their empire.
* DefectorFromDecadence: When he discovered that the Ethereals had been suppressing knowledge and were not being honest with their fellow Tau, he began questioning everything about them. However, since revealing what he knew to those Tau back in the core of the empire could cause the Tau to return to the days of Mont'au, a fate far worse than Ethereal rule, he chose self-imposed exile instead. This also allows for his forces to act as a buffer from threats the loyalist Tau are far too naive or unprepared for to face.
* DeflectorShields: Carries a shield generator.
* DueToTheDead: The ''Farsight'' novella explains the red paintjob as this: Farsight starts with his standard sept colors, but paints his battlesuit red to remember those who died because of mistakes he made in the Arkunasha campaign.
* AFatherToHisMen: Farsight is devoted to his fellow soldiers. One novella set before he defected has him meeting an Ethereal in the aftermath of a hellish campaign against the Orks and discovering that the reinforcements he requested had been available for some time before they were committed, but were held back to await a chance to strike a decisive blow against the Orks. Farsight is clearly appalled, as some of the soldiers he fought with could have been saved if the reinforcements acted sooner, and it's suggested that his mistrust of the Ethereals began with this incident.
* {{Foil}}: To Shadowsun. They are masters of different strategies (Mont'ka for Farsight and Kauyon for Shadowsun), both were trained by Puretide, Farsight is a rebel where Shadowsun is perfectly obedient to the Etherals, and both are legendary figureheads to their respective branches of the Tau.
* FounderOfTheKingdom: Created the Farsight Enclave, thanks to how loyal his forces were to him. They were unwilling to leave their leader behind in his self-imposed exile
* FourStarBadass: Of the Farsight Enclaves.
* HandicappedBadass: Farsight lost a leg, but since he fights in a battlesuit, it doesn't hinders him at all.
* TheHermit: After witnessing daemons for the first time, O'Shovah retired in the wilderness to meditate.
* HeroicSacrifice: During his examination to become a Shas'ui, Farsight got himself killed while trying to protect his commanding officer. It earned him his promotion since the examination was a SecretTestOfCharacter.
* HesBack: After a period of self-imposed exile, Farsight came back to his people in order to help repel a Tyranid invasion.
* IWorkAlone: He slips into it for a period during the ''Farsight'' novella, angered by the Ethereals censuring him and guilt-ridden about the deaths he caused with his mistakes, he adopts a Monat pattern and goes off to fight the Orks by himself. The original Bravestorm quickly kicks him out of it.
* GuardianAngel: He and his enclave act like such for the Tau after their "rebellion", much to the shock of Shadowsun.
* LifeDrinker: This one's so secret that no character in-universe is fully aware of it. [[spoiler:The Dawn Blade is made of "chronophagic alloys," and whenever it is used to cut someone's life short, the years they would have lived are added to the wielder's. Farsight has his suspicions, but if he were ever aware of the truth he would probably kill himself.]]
* MySpeciesDothProtestTooMuch: Regarding the Tau's views upon other races as barbaric primitives who put too much belief into superstitions. As he's learned, the other major forces of the galaxy are that way because they're right, because there are things superior technology can't solve, and there are unseen horrors that requires use of items of a mystical sort.
* NomDeGuerre: Farsight, Bane of Greenskins, and many others.
* TheParagonAlwaysRebels: Commander Farsight was a hero to the Tau, one of the greatest champions of the defense of Dal'yth Sept during the Damocles Crusade, who built his career on repelling Orks with a strategic insight that bordered on prescient, earning him his MeaningfulName. In the wake of the Imperial withdrawal, many questioned the Empire's strength, so Farsight was selected to lead a combined force to retake the worlds that the Tau had lost so that they might show their strength to the doubters. However, as Farsight's campaign dragged on, he began to go off-mission, diverting from his primary objectives to engage the Orks encroaching on the territory he sought to reclaim. This went unremarked at first, as the situation was fluid and he had authority to redirect forces as he saw fit for the Greater Good. However, he pressed further and further off mission, and after the Ethereals accompanying him all mysteriously died on the world at Arthas Moloch, he ignored any communication demanding his return and stopped getting any further support from the Empire. Since then, his forces have fortified several worlds and formed their own sept away from the empire, still refusing communication even generations later, pursuing an agenda known only to Farsight himself.
* PhotographicMemory: Farsight has an exceptional memory, which helped forge his skill as a strategist.
* RedIsHeroic: Farsight, and by extension his enclave troops, use crimson painting. O'Shovah also happens to be one of the most unambiguously moral Tau of his species.
* RogueAgent: Farsight now operates on his own after the death of his Ethereals.
* SadistTeacher: Not him, but Farsight unwittingly humiliated his instructors once and since them the entire teaching corp of the Fire Caste has had a mild grudge against him, always giving him the hardest exercices to perform.
* SatanicArchetype: Heavily subverted. While he is believed to be such by the Tau and he wears red armor, Farsight's motives (protect the Tau from Chaos) are far more benevolent. Due to the ZeroApprovalGambit nature of his "betrayal", Farsight is closer to Dark Knight Trilogy Batman than to a true Satan figure.
* ShipTease: There are some flashbacks in the ''Farsight'' novella which imply Farsight and Shadowsun had feelings for each other during their training under Puretide.
* ShoutOut: The world on which he found his sword, which has been suggested to have corrupted him, shares the name of [[VideoGame/WarCraft another bitter warrior-prince corrupted by a relic sword and a terrible, corruptive demon-god]].
* StartMyOwn: Farsight's faction is more in keeping of a traditional [=40K=] army.
* TeenGenius: O'Shovah already surpassed his instructors as a tactician even before taking arms.
* Unperson: The Ethereals tried to erase every mention of him as soon as they learned of the Farsight Enclaves but as a LivingLegend, it proved impossible for Farsight to disappear in the earths of the Fire Caste Warriors.
* UriahGambit: Was on the receiving end of this when one of his former instructors kept sending him to the front line and to the most dangerous missions because O'Shovah humiliated the teacher as an instructor by perfectly predicting his exercises.
* ZeroApprovalGambit: Heavily implied in the ''Farsight Enclave'' supplement army book that everything he's doing, including the direction of his blockade, is to protect the Tau from the Eye of Terror and thus Chaos, even if it includes being seen as the ultimate traitor.

!!Commander Bravestorm

One of the Shas'Os originally given the powerful Onager Gauntlet, Bravestorm is permanently entombed in his battlesuit by built-in life support systems due to the injuries he sustained in battle against the Imperium at Blackthunder Mesa. Despite this, he still serves Farsight as a member of The Eight.

* HeroicSacrifice: He valiantly fought a heavy armored force of Imperial Guard tank in the battle of Blackthunder Mesas. Even when his ranged weapons ran out of ammo or were ineffective, he ended up taking down a number of them with his Onager Gauntlet. While he was left crippled for the rest of his life and forever stuck in his battlesuit, his actions helped swing the battle in the Tau Empire's favor.
** [[spoiler: Does this again during the events of War Zone Damocles: Mont'ka as part of the Second Agrellan Campaign (Also known as the Second Battle of Mu'Gulath Bay), this time costing his life. He noticed a [[ColdSniper Vindicare Assassin]] lining up a shot upon Farsight, and quickly moved his own battlesuit in the way, TakingTheBullet for Farsight.]]
* TheLancer: He's pretty much Farsight's number two.
* ManInTheMachine: Similar to Space Marine Dreadnoughts, Bravestorm cannot leave his Battlesuit due to injuries he sustained in battle.
* PowerFist: One of the first Tau to wield the Onager Gauntlet, a powerful weapon built into a Battlesuit's fist. On the table, the Onager Gauntlet is a one-time use weapon that has the strength of a rail gun.
* TakingTheBullet: [[spoiler:Took a Vindicare Assassin sniper's bullet to protect Farsight, dying in the process.]]

!!Honour-Shas'Vre O'Vesa

Not actually a member of the Fire Caste, O'Vesa is an elderly Earth Caste colleague of Farsight's who uses small drones of his own invention to keep himself alive. He pilots a heavily modified XV104 Riptide Battlesuit.

* HumongousMecha: Comes with the territory of piloting a Riptide.
* MadScientist: His younger self in the ''Farsight'' novella falls into this. Seriously, who thinks that the death of Farsight's mentor and friend would be a ''great'' time to try out an untested device that digitally recreates minds?
* TheSmartGuy: He was a scientist long before he became an honorary member of the Fire Caste and his technological expertise is still one of his greatest skills.

!!Commander Brightsword

The original Brightsword served under Farsight while he was still fighting Orks and making his name before the Third Sphere Expansion. Since then, his successors have loyally served Farsight from the Damocles Crusade to the Farsight Expedition to now. The current Brightsword serves as a member of The Eight.

* CombatPragmatist: Uses the superheated barrels of his fusion blasters as swords.
* LegacyCharacter: Unlike Farsight, who has the benefit of the Dawn Blade keeping him alive, there is no secret that the current Brightsword is not the original one to bear that name. There have been at least seven Battlesuit pilots to take up the mantle of Brightsword since the death of the original.

!!Commander Sha'vastos

Sha'vastos was the first Tau to be fitted with the Puretide Neurochip. Due to the mental degeneration caused by the chip, he was due to be forced into retirement and lobotomized, which only didn't happen because of Farsight's intervention. Despite this, he was still placed into suspended animation until O'Vesa was able to recalibrate the chip decades later.

* FlawedPrototype: Sha'vastos's prototype neurochip caused mental degeneracy and he had to be put in suspended animation until a solution had to be found.
* HumanPopsicle: Was put in suspended animation for a certain period of time until the Earth Caste scientists could improve the neurochip in his brain.

!!Shas'Vre Ob'lotai 9-0

Shas'Vre Ob'lotai was the Tau that trained Farsight in the basics of piloting a Battlesuit. The Ob'lotai that serves as a member of The Eight is not this Tau. Ob'lotai 9-0 is an AI engram based on the original Ob'lotai. He pilots a Broadside Battlesuit.

* AceCustom: The ''Farsight'' novella reveals that his original self customised his Broadside to carry its heavy rail rifle in the arms rather than the at-the-time regular shoulder mounting. This configuration would later become standard practice in the Empire.
* BrainUploading: How Ob'lotai took his current form. The original Ob'lotai died in a tragic accident when the dissection of an Ork speciment went wrong, and O'Vesa used an untested device to create an AI engram of Ob'lotai's brain patterns.
* ColdSniper: He pilots a Broadside Battlesuit, sniping enemy leaders and vehicles from potentially miles away.
* {{Irony}}: The original Ob'lotai actually ''hated'' drones, blaming them for the death of his mentor in battle. O'Vesa, unaware of this, put the AI engram into a drone body at first, prompting an angry outburst from Farsight.
* TheMentor: His original self was the one who taught Farsight how to pilot a Battlesuit.

!!Commander Arra'kon

!!Subcommander Torchstar

A defector of the Tau Empire, Torchstar is a young, but talented Battlesuit pilot who is well known for her love of using fire against the Tau's foes.

* ActionGirl: Like Shadowsun, a rarity among named and playable 40k characters.
* TheChick: The only female among the Eight.
* KillItWithFire: She really likes flamethrowers.

!!Allies & Mercenaries

->''Together we will eat them all!''

* AlienHair: The Kroot are dissimilar to humans in that they have long quills growing out of the back of their heads, as well as many smaller quills growing about their bodies. These quills are actually sense organs - air vibrating against them provides the Kroot their sense of hearing in the same manner that ears provide humans a sense of hearing.
* AmazingTechnicolorPopulation: The Kroot are commonly depicted in official artwork with dull green skin similar to Orks, but there canonically exist a variety of other skin tones including red and black. Coloration is usually divided up by kindred, but even the same kindred can change skin color over the course of a few generations depending on what they have been eating.[[note]][[EpilepticTrees It can be speculated]] that the dull green skin commonly shown might be due to the Kroot homeworld of Pech being subject to an Ork invasion centuries ago and the current population having to fight off (and feed off) those Ork's [[AlienKudzu feral descendants]], adopting their skin color in the process.[[/note]]
* AscendedExtra: The first appearance of the Kroot was as a small drawing of a "Kroot Warrior" among a group of other miscellaneous minor xenos in an art spread within the third edition core rulebook. This actually pre-dates the introduction of the Tau, who only became part of the setting late in the third edition's life cycle. That single image was greatly expanded upon to create an allied race for the Tau, both to fill a tactical niche in their force composition and to show their willingness to ally with others. The Kroot were picked for this roll because of [[{{Foil}} how well they contrasted with the Tau]].
* BeastOfBattle: Several Kroot-descended species have degenerated into animals and lost the ability to alter their shapes. Normal Kroot use these in combat, including aggressive Kroot Hounds to run down the enemy, lumbering apelike Krootox to use as mobile mounts for heavy weapons, and even great, dinosaurian Knarlocs they can goad into the enemy to wreck havoc.
* BizarreAlienBiology:
** Kroot have no dedicated urinal or rectal orifaces; any indigestible components (which are very few to them) are regurgitated up through the mouth. This also serves as a birth canal (see below). They also have multiple stomachs, quill-like sensory organs on the backs of their head (and in other places), and distinctly inhuman musculature that makes them a lot stronger than they look.
** They are also the only species in the setting besides the Tyranids that actively guide their evolution, and also be able to see it within a generation.
* BizarreAlienReproduction: Kroot have no genitalia, as humans recognize them, instead using specialised pores to secrete and absorb genetic material: the only reason we know they come in male and female, instead of being hermaphroditic, is because the fluff says so. The gene-secreting pores are located on the palms of the hands, while the gene-receiving pores are located on the small of the back, so sex, for Kroot, essentially consists of a backrub. Once fertilised, the female converts one of her stomachs into a womb, regurgitating the offspring once the pregnancy is ended.
* BladeOnAStick: The Kroot use long rifles with a pair of [[SinisterScythe scythe-like]] [[BayonetYa bayonets]] at either end. The Kroot use these [[MixAndMatchWeapon both as a rifle, and as their primary melee weapon]], harkening back to their ancient bladed fighting staves before they adopted firearms. The weapon's great length, combined with the Kroot's own taut, whip-like muscles, allow it to strike with great force when swung in wide arcs.
* CannibalTribe: The Kroot draw heavily on this trope for their imagery. They consider eating the flesh of another creature a way of showing respect for that creature's strength. Inevitably though, [[IAmAHumanitarian sentient creatures are what they considered the strongest]]. Their culture revolves around finding strong creatures to eat, which is what drives much of their mercenary aspirations. If it puts up a good fight, it will make a good meal, and [[CannibalismSuperpower that makes the Kroot stronger]].
* ChallengeSeeker: Kroot prefer to avoid eating weak things, seeking as strong and dangerous prey as they can bring down. Sometimes this means apex predators of a given world, other times it means enemy soldiers who put up a good fight. The stronger their prey, the stronger their children will be.
* CloseRangeCombatant: Their biggest direct-combat strength, and the primary reason that the Tau employ them. However, they are not so specialized in to to the point of being unable to do anything else, but on the other hand [[MasterOfNone they are only moderately good at it by the standards of other dedicated assault troops]]. They are relatively fragile due to [[FullFrontalAssault not wearing armor]], but they do use [[FragileSpeedster their speed and quick-contracting muscles]] to rain [[GlassCannon several hard-hitting blows]] with the many [[BayonetYa bayonets]] on their [[BladeOnAStick long Kroot rifles]].
* CreativeSterility: A characteristic of the Kroot. Though not unintelligent, the Kroot's lack of creativity is what kept their technology at a crude black-powder level for a long period of time, and they were unlikely to go any further than that on their own. That was all changed when Orks invaded their homeworld, and the Kroot's own [[LegoGenetics innate ability to absorb and incorporate genetic information]] from what ([[IAmAHumanitarian or whom]]) they eat allowed them to take advantage of the Orkish GeneticMemory and gain spacefaring technology. In fact, the creative portions of their brains are literally smaller and less developed than the logical-rational parts. In humans, this would be the equivalent of having a smaller right brain than a left brain.
* CringeComedy: The Kroot have a sense of humor that tends toward finding amusement in making others uncomfortable. For example, turning up their natural pheromones to an obviously pungent level, and standing around Tau diplomats who cannot stand the smell but are too polite to object, or offering humans meat from their own species and acting offended if they do not accept because they find others' squeamishness about food hilarious.
* CripplingOverspecialization: Kroot who eat too much of a certain creature are locked into an evolutionary dead-end. For example, eating quadrupeds over other animals results in the Kroot lineage permanently becoming Kroot Hounds.
* DoubleWeapon: The [[MixAndMatchWeapon Kroot Rifle]] has blades incorporated into the barrel and stock in imitation of the traditional fighting staffs used by ancient Kroot warriors.
* EveryoneHasStandards: Though Kroot are a species widely known for eating the dead ([[EatenAlive or soon to be dead]]) of sentient species ([[IAmAHumanitarian including their own]]) there are three major exceptions to this:
** The Kroot will not eat any [[HordeOfAlienLocusts Tyranic bio-forms]]. Some speculate that the Tyranid's capacity for LegoGenetics might somehow conflict with the Kroot's own capacity to adopt characteristics of what they eat. The only things the Shapers say when asked is that apparently Tyranid flesh tastes awful or "tainted".
** Though the Kroot are materially-minded, they are pragmatic and realistic enough to have picked up really quickly that there are some things in this universe that cannot be rationally explained, and thus they recognize Chaos as a threat. Because of Chaos' reality-disregarding ability to reshape the flesh of those exposed to it, Kroot avoid eating those obviously mutated by it, though sometimes it is hard to tell and in the few instances where Kroot did eat the flesh from Chaos warbands it rarely turned out well for the Kroot.
** Because the Tau were instrumental in [[BecauseYouWereNiceToMe helping the Kroot repel the Orks from their homeworld]], they are indebted to the Tau Empire and hence give them preferential terms as mercenaries. However, they like this arrangement and will not stand to see it threatened. Thus, any Kroot who eats the flesh of a Tau is considered to violate a sacred taboo and will earn the ire of the Shapers and potentially be outcast from their Kindreds.
* ExposedExtraterrestrials: As mentioned, the Kroot have little in the way of modesty taboos or vulnerable sexual organs to protect. Their AdaptiveAbility to take on the traits of their prey means that they tend to find themselves growing more comfortable with the exposure to the elements wherever they hunt. They think that humans' need for clothing and shelter means they must have little pride in their ability to survive an environment.
* FantasticRacism: Notable {{averted|trope}} in a setting that otherwise usually plays it straight. The Kroot are fairly easy-going about working for or alongside other races, provided the terms of their contract are agreeable. Whether those others are as comfortable working with the Kroot, [[ImAHumanitarian especially after seeing them eat]], is another matter entirely.
* FeatheredFiend: Though they have quills instead of feathers, the Kroot are descended from alien avians, and retain their ancestors' beaks and light bones. Unlike the vast majority of terrestrial birds, Kroot give birth ([[BizarreAlienReproduction regurgitate]]) their young live.
* {{Foil}}: Games Workshop included the Kroot in the Tau army list because of how their "savage" appearance and fighting style contrasted with the clean, high-tech, {{Animesque}} style of the Tau. Their mercenary culture and healthy skepticism for the Greater Good is also a contrast to the Tau. Think of them as the Sancho Panza to the Tau's Literature/DonQuixote.
* FullFrontalAssault: Kroot's sexual organs are the [[ExoticEquipment pores in their skin]], so they feel little modesty about the bareness of their bodies, and since the small quills scattered about their flesh are sense organs, they prefer to have them exposed to better feel and smell their environment. If they wear anything, it is usually light and utilitarian, such as belts and pouches for carrying things, or something small and ceremonial like a head dress or necklace.
* GenderIsNoObject: Thanks to having very little sexual dimorphism, Kroot have little in the way of gender role distinction.
* HellBentForLeather: While Kroot have [[FullFrontalAssault no particular nudity taboo]], they do occasionally wear clothing for other more practical purposes, like warmth or modest battlefield protection. In those cases, most of their outfit will be leather, which they gather in abundance as part of their lifestyle as hunters. For the battlefield wear, they use the toughest and most exotic xeno hides to offer protection considerably above what is usual for leather, though this is still [[ArmorIsUseless poor proof against modern weapons]].
* HorseOfADifferentColor: Knarlocs, which are Kroot-derived pack hunting beasts that walk on two legs and use their short fore arms to grasp prey,[[note]](think of the [[Film/JurassicPark popular conception]] of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velociraptor velociraptors]] for a good visualization of it)[[/note]] are often used as cavalry mounts by the Kroot. The Knarloc's pack mentality and relative intelligence makes them ideal for domestication and their viciousness as hunters makes them ideal for combat. A good Knarloc is a source of prestige to other Kroot.
* IGaveMyWord: Kroot have a reputation as very reliable mercenaries due to their practice of honoring their contracts in full, giving exactly what the contract stipulates, [[NotInMyContract no more and no less]]. On the other hand, because [[OnlyInItForTheMoney they hold no particular allegiance]], Kroot might find themselves switching sides in a battle should a [[ExactWords poorly worded contract]] expire at just the wrong time and a better offer present itself immediately...
* ImAHumanitarian: While the Kroot are a rather agreeable sort, their dietary habits are generally a turn-off to most others. They are obligate carnivores, and they eat many kinds of meat, which alone would not be disturbing, but the meat they prefer most is that of sentient species. This drives much of their mercenary aspirations, giving them opportunity to get meat from the bodies of the fallen, where their preference for very fresh meat sometimes leads them to [[EatenAlive start eating even before a foe expires]]. The harder an enemy fights, the better a meal they will make, so the Kroot especially enjoy {{Worthy Opponent}}s. Even when a Kroot kindred is in desperate times, [[NoPartyLikeADonnerParty they will eat the very young, the elderly, and the infirm]] so that their memory and genes will be preserved. They will gladly invite outsiders to come and join them in their charnel feasts, even knowing that those outsiders are unlikely to appreciate the gesture. They find others absurdly squeamish when it comes to eating, often deriving amusement from those other's disgust.
* LegoGenetics: Kroot are able to instinctively select [=DNA=] sequences from the prey they eat and add them to their own, so that a Kroot kindred that fights Orks for a few generation will develop a green coloration and heavy musculature (indeed, the Kroot only managed to leave their homeworld after eating some Orks and gaining the ability to instinctively build spaceships). After a messy past incident, the Tau make sure the Kroot don't eat anything [[TheCorruption Chaos]]-related, and Kroot leaders also make sure they don't eat any Tyranids, although since apparently Genestealer hybrids taste absolutely ''vile'', this is a frivolous law except in emergencies.
* LowCultureHighTech: While the Kroot have some advanced technology, their CreativeSterility tends to land them in a SchizoTech styled state of this. Their pragmatism gives them little use for ostentatious forms of wealth, but they gladly trade their mercenary services for useful artifacts beyond their own ability to manufacture. That same pragmatism also averts any CargoCult impulses that might happen in a more creative species. The Kroot might not be told how their technology works, but they understand well enough what it does, where it comes from, and what they can use it for.
* MusclesAreMeaningless: Kroot may not look at strong as Space Marines or Orks due to their slim builds, but they will fool you. Their muscles are unusually powerful, capable of more rapid contraction than an equivalent mass of muscles on most other species. They might not have as much lifting strength as someone bigger, but they can put a lot of force into each blow due to their quickness. [[WordOfGod According to their concept artist]], they were designed to resemble [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people Maasai warriors]], being lithe and tall.
* NobleSavage: The Kroot are seen as this within the Tau Empire, where the Por'hui media portray them as a race of {{Proud Warrior|RaceGuy}}s with respectable combat skills, and evidence that even primitive races can find a place in the Greater Good. For their part, the Kroot find this concept quaintly amusing at best, not giving much care to what others think of them, and happy to just go along with it as long as the Tau provide them opportunities to grow stronger. And, to be fair, there's more than a little truth to the propaganda.
** In another sense, despite their obvious brutality the Kroot are, with their strong sense of community, wry sense of humor and healthy skepticism for the Tau's pie-in-the-sky ideals, quite charming once you get to know them. The Tau Empire may be the most unambiguously ''admirable'' faction in a setting where genocide and xenophobia are the norm but it is their Kroot allies who are arguably the most ''likable''.[[note]]Assuming you can get past their dietary habits, about which they are pretty unapologetic - and even then, those are necessary for them to stay sapient.[[/note]]
* NotInThisForYourRevolution: The Kroot do not make much effort to hide that their embrace of the Greater Good is tenuous at best. They are part of the Tau Empire for the betterment of the Kroot, by giving them opportunities to change, adapt, grow, and survive in a hostile galaxy. The Tau keep insisting that the Kroot will embrace the cause of the Greater Good with time, and the Kroot are content to let them go on thinking that.
* NoTranshumanismAllowed: Things like genetic re-engineering and cybernetics are both physically and culturally alien to the Kroot. While they certainly place a great deal of importance on genetic self-improvement and the expansion of their own innate abilities, their ability to incorporate the genes of creatures they eat into their own genetic structure allows them to change and adapt within a single generation via GoalOrientedEvolution. Hence, there is less impetus among Kroot for functional self-modification, and they generally regard it as bizarre, unnecessary, and frankly unnatural to their sensibilities.
* {{Omniglot}}: The Kroot vocal range is wide, and they pick up and imitate calls very easily. This is mostly a hunting adaptation, as it allows them to lure prey. However, this also extends to different tongues, and the Kroot pick up languages fairly quickly.
* PowerIncontinence: A flaw of the Kroot is that their ability to [[LEGOGenetics incorporate genetic material]] from creatures that they eat can only be controlled by making dietary choices, and not all choices are good ones. For example, a kindred that eats only dim-witted herbivores will find itself able to digest plant matter they could not before, but will also become more dim-witted themselves. This is a major reason for the Kroot's [[IAmAHumanitarian eating of sentients]]: it allows them to maintain their intelligence. The role of the Shapers in Kroot society is to understand what would be most advantageous to eat, and to direct their kindreds' diets to those.
* PrivateMilitaryContractors: The Kroot aren't actually all that interested in the Greater Good (or rather take its doctrine of selflessness only up to the level of their own race rather than the empire as a whole), and will hire themselves off as mercenaries on the side.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: And just as much entrepreneurs as they are warriors.
* {{Punch Clock Hero}}es: Part of their [[PlanetOfHats hat]] is that the Kroot do not fight for some higher cause like many great powers in the galaxy do; they keep their ambitions practical and temporal, and so fight mostly for reward. Older editions even had a special rule for Kroot units that tied their leadership characteristic to how many points the player spent on them, reasoning that investing in more equipment for them represented a generous down payment on their services, and so they would fight harder to get it. Absent this, their leadership was relatively low, and if things went bad they might decide that they were contracted in bad faith and [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere getting themselves killed did not serve their interests]].
* TheQuisling: Anghkor Prok could count for the Kroot, having sworn them into alliance with the Tau and therefore having enough prestige to command Tau troops, though the Kroot don't really mind working for Tau ''most of the time''.
* ScarilyCompetentTracker: Kroot fieldcraft has a justly deserved reputation for excellence. Their role as hunters translates well to scouting and skirmish warfare. Their senses of sight and hearing are very sharp, and the quills on their body are extraordinarily sensitive to changes in the environment. It is very difficult to hide from an alert Kroot.
* SchizoTech: [[CreativeSterility Not being particularly creative]], the Kroot had a very slow pace of technological advancement, and their technology was jumped ahead when the Orks invaded their homeworld and the Kroot [[CannibalismSuperpower absorbed]] their GeneticMemory of how to build more technologically advanced devices. Couple this with technology granted to the Kroot as payment for services rendered, and Kroot societies are free mixes of advanced technology with traditional Kroot tribal crafts. For a battlefield example, the iconic Kroot rifle is a breach-loading longarm that also functions as a double-ended BladeOnAStick, yet it fires very advanced munitions provided to the Kroot by the Tau to give it a deceptively high stopping-power per shot.
* SniperRifle: Recognizing their talent for quiet field craft and taking the enemy by surprise, the Tau have recently started issuing the Kroot special ammunition designed to aid in precision shooting. However, the Kroot rifles they are fired from are still crude devices, often without scopes or other aiming assistance, which limits their effective range.
* SpaceAmish: After consuming Ork Mekboyz and gaining their gene-coded technical knowledge, the Kroot entered a period of rapid technological development and expansion that almost got them all killed off by an Ork fleet. Anghkor Prok, critical of a culture that led them into war before failing to defend them, has led the Kroot in looking to the past and living in a more "traditional" society.
* TribalFacepaint: Though the Kroot owe no special allegiance to particular Tau septs or have any particular uniform structure, some kindreds will wear warpaint in the colors of the sept that they are currently working for, at least for the duration of their contract.

The Vespid are an insect-like race who evolved on {{Floating Continent}}s in a gas giant, with their social structure centered around hive-families called strains. They are one of the newer additions to the Tau Empire. [[StarfishLanguage Initial communication proved difficult]], but once [[TranslatorMicrobes translation devices were built to breach the language barrier]], the Vespid joined the Tau eagerly, as the Greater Good already meshed well with the Vespid's own values of hive-over-individual, island-over-hive, and species-over-island.
* ArmorPiercingAttack: The Neutron Blasters the Vespid carry are capable of ignoring all but the thickest and most dense armor, killing the organic material such armor might be protecting like the armor was not even there.
** Likewise, their diamond-hard claws (normally used for digging the tunnels that make up their hives) possess the rending property, allowing them a chance to rip open armor like a tin can up close.
* BeePeople: Multiple eyes, hive-based society, insectoid chitin-covered body with bee-like wings...
* InsectoidAliens: Their exoskeletons, membranous wings, and hive structure gives it away.
* PowerCrystal: The crystals in the Vespid's Neutron Blasters are mined from their homeworld. Their unique structure is absolutely essential to their function, but they can only be fired when vibrated at certain but variable frequencies. So far, only the humming of the Vespid's wings has proven effective at "tuning" these crystals to allow the weapon to function, so only Vespid carry them.
* PunnyName: Named for "vespa", the genus of hornets and wasps.
* StarfishLanguage: The Vespid are so different from other races in their mentality and the manner in which they communicate that communication is only possible through the use of a special "communion helm" translation device built by the Tau and worn by strain leaders. The Vespid joined the Tau Empire eagerly after communication was established, and there is some speculation that this might have been because the helmets do more than facilitate communication, but nothing has been confirmed...
* TrueCompanions: Unlike the Kroot, the Vespid genuinely believe in the Greater Good and want to find their place in it. So we're told, anyway. [[ZigZaggingTrope The exact details remain unclear.]]
* WorldInTheSky: Their homeworld is a gas giant which has many {{Floating Continent}}s, kept aloft in thin band of pressure difference and due to the strange properties of [[PowerCrystal the crystals which grow on them]]. The Vespid burrow tunnels into these continents to make their hives. However, the delicate nature of the environment that they inhabit has led to them being very culturally careful to avoid sinking a hive-island due to excessive exploitation or provoking a war which might risk damage to their hive. This in turn led to them becoming easily integrated into the Greater Good when the Tau managed their communication breakthrough.



A race of short, semi-humanoid AsteroidMiners that make their living through mining, trade and mercenary work with and for several alien cultures. The Demiurg have been around for quite a while and actually predate Tau civilization, having been first encountered by the Imperium during the Great Crusade. A reclusive race rarely seen in Imperial space, their exact relationship to the Tau, whether as subjects, allies, mercenaries, or simply trade partners, is unknown. In recent centuries, Demiurg sightings in the Ultima Segmentum have increased, usually in association with Tau and Kroot fleets, leading many Imperial strategists to assume a link between increased Demiurg activity and recent Tau expansionism.

* AsteroidMiners: For the most part they spend their time plying the stars and mining out asteroid belts for precious minerals.
* ContinuityNod: To the Squats, who were [[RetGone retconned out of the setting following the end of the game's Second Edition.]] The Demiurg were Games Workshop's attempt to re-introduce the Space Dwarf concept to the game and mollify the fans who were hoping to see them return.
* HigherTechSpecies: Their preference for space-borne living leaves them with lots of incentive to make sure their technology is reliable and always improving. In fact, they pioneered ion cannon technology which they later sold to the Tau.
* MeaningfulName: "Demiurg" comes from the Ancient Greek word ''demiourgos'', meaning "artisan".
* MightyGlacier: Demiurg mining ships are armed with powerful mining lasers, but they're rather slow.
* MobileFactory: Their Stronghold-class ships are massive vessels, slow but well defended with [[InstantDeathRadius powerful short range weapons]], that act as the center of Demiurg mining fleets. Smaller vessels will enter asteroid fields and break them down, collecting the ore to bring back to the Stronghold ship for processing. In addition to refining the ore, the Stronghold also uses it to produce finished goods, including other smaller ships.
* OurDwarvesAreDifferent: They're short and stocky, relatively technologically advanced, and they dig through asteroids to mine out minerals.
* ProudMerchantRaceGuy: They're expert traders as well as miners.
* ShoutOut: The Tau word for the Demiurg is "Bentu'sin" (meaning "wise-gifted ones"). This is very similar to the Bentusi of the ''VideoGame/{{Homeworld}}'' series, additionally both the Demiurg and Bentusi are spaceborn merchants who provide ion cannon technology to their respective allies. Considering that ''Homeworld'''s developers Relic also went on to make ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar'' and ''VideoGame/Warhammer40000SpaceMarine'', it is unsurprising that some writer at Games Workshop was a fan. Culturally they aren't all that similar to the Bentusi, but they ''are'' dead ringers for Kiith Somtaaw.
* SpaceNomads: All known Demiurg live exclusively in their starships, moving from system to system in search of trade and of mineral-rich asteroids. Itís thought they donít even ''have'' a homeworld. In a [[DownplayedTrope downplaying]] of the trope, they do colonize planets if thereís good enough mining to be worth the effort.

* HiredGuns: They're not part of the Tau Empire proper, but form mercenary bands who sell their services to highest bidder. Which, more often than not, is the Tau Empire.

!! Human Auxilaries (Gue'vesa)

Not all humans in the galaxy live within the Imperium's fold. Many are subjects of the Tau Empire, working and fighting for the Greater Good. Counting among their numbers mercenaries, pro-Tau defectors, captured Guardsmen and the populations of conquered Imperial worlds, the Gue'vesa vary in their devotion for the Tau and the Greater Good, but are united in their knowledge that as far as the Imperium is concerned, they're all traitors of the worst sort. Regardless of their feelings for their alien rulers, they know very well that there's no going back.

* AlienHair: Some human ''Gue'vesa'' shave their heads to resemble Tau hair, a single lock at the back of the head.
* BerserkButton: They're this for Imperium forces. Imperial Guard, Space Marine and Sisters of Battle units [[ThePowerOfHate get a bonus in close combat against them]].
* BetterLivingThroughEvil: Among Imperials, most defectors usually do so less because they believe in the Tau's philosophy, and more because they give better rations, treat the little guys with a bit more respect, and are less likely to ask someone to die because some distant deity demands it. It generally takes a few generations for humans to assimilate fully into Tau culture.
* CategoryTraitor: Gue'vesa are considered both heretical and traitorous by the Imperium, even if their only crime was being left behind when the Imperium withdrew, or simply being born to a lineage of those who were. Many Gue'vesa fight for the Tau not necessarily out of loyalty to the Greater Good, but also out of the knowledge that there can often be no peaceful reintegration into the Imperium for them.
* LesCollaborateurs: Humans who fight for the Tau Empire for various reasons.
* ImmigrantPatriotism: Sometimes those humans who convert to the Greater Good do so fanatically, though this is not true of all of them.
* MeltingPotNomenclature: In an AerithAndBob kind of way. Gue'vesa who have lived under the Tau Empire for generations might adopt some Tau names, mixed in with their Imperial ones. For example, they might have a Tau personal name but an Imperial surname. They generally do this out of an appreciation for the symbolism such names provide, showing both their roots and their unity with the Tau.
* YouAreTheTranslatedForeignWord: In Tau style, "gue'vesa" is something that gets prefixed to a human's personal name when they accept the Greater Good. In Tau, it literally means "human helper".
* YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters: The Tau believe that anyone has a right to choose to join the Greater Good (even if circumstances force that choice, [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans even if the Tau themselves brought about those circumstances]]). Thus, they consider human-populated worlds who try to align with the Tau to be their worlds by right of will of their people, their Gue'vesa population already part of the Tau Empire (and entitled to Tau protection and support), while the Imperium considers those people insurrectionist rebels who need to be put down (and justifying a military response). Naturally, this is a frequent source of conflict between the two powers.

%%* HiredGuns

* InHarmsWay: They ''love'' exploring.
* StarfishAliens: They're ethereal energy beings.

%%* HiredGuns

* BadassArmy: They provide great deal of the Empire's space forces.
* FantasyCounterpartCulture: Their ships are named Dhows, making them sort of Arabs '''[[RecycledInSpace IN SPACE]]'''!
* InHarmsWay: Again, they love exploration and scouting.
* PsychicPowers: Nicassar are highly adept psykers. The Tau go to great lengths to hide this fact, to prevent the Imperium banging down their doors.
* SpaceNomads: They're driven by an insatiable need to explore, and are most content when traveling. As a result, they're a very nomadic species, and are often used by the Tau as explorers and scouts.
* UrsineAliens: There's no official art of them, but one GW author described them as looking like "[[OurMonstersAreWeird flat polar bears]]".

* PlantPeople: Not much is known about them apart from the fact that they're plant-based.

* BerserkButton: Humans. The Imperium, following [[AbsoluteXenophobe standard procedure]], virus-bombed the Tarellian home-worlds and nearly pushed the race to the brink of extinction. The Tarellians have ''not'' forgotten this.
* FantasticRacism: They hate humans with an unbridled passion.
* LizardFolk: Also called "dog soldiers" due to their snouts. They are like buffed-up [[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons Kobolds]].
* HiredGuns: They are not part of the Tau Empire (and have little nationalistic affiliation anyway,) but the Tau often hire their services.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: Proud Mercenary Race Guy, to be exact.


-->''A good warrior strikes fast, but retreats faster.''