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Characters / Warhammer 40,000: T'au Empire

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For the Greater Good!
A thousand fibres connect each of us with our fellow T'au 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 Warhammer 40,000, the T'au 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 race, the T'au 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 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 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 T'au are known for two things: their advanced technology, and their Greater Good. The T'au 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 T'au's most dangerous creation, 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 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 T'au technology and a society less transparently brutal than the Imperium. This leads many to label the T'au the "good guys" of 40K, which is true to some extent—the T'au 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 Mind Control as well as the notion of a race rigidly divided into castes, and you have a classic Crapsaccharine World. Compared to the rest of 40K though, this is normal, or even better than the rest of the factions.


The tabletop T'au army is perhaps the shootiest in the game. Their basic 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 and their battlesuits can 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 T'au are simply pathetic in close combat, and have no dedicated assault units besides Kroot kindreds. Success with the T'au 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, keep him alive.

The T'au were introduced during the 3rd Edition of Warhammer 40,000note . During 7th Edition, the T'au were the focus of a narrative campaign pitting them against the Raven Guard and White Scars chapters of Space Marines that expanded their army list with a number of new unit types. The 2016 7th Edition skirmish game Kill Team featured a battle between the T'au and Raven Guard as the focus of its background and included their models in its box set. The 8th Edition rules for the T'au Empire, as well as their Farsight Enclaves sub-faction, are included in Codex: T'au Empire, released in March 2018, with additional rules published in the February 2020 sourcebook Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good.

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    The T'au Empire 
  • Ace Custom: All T'au Battlesuits are customizable to some degree, but the XV-8-05 Enforcer suit available to Commanders is the absolute king of custom loadouts courtesy of an astonishing bevvy of weapons and subsystems. This, by its very nature, encourages the creation of numerous unique and specialized units.
  • Action Girl: T'au society makes 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 T'au models.
  • Agent Scully: A common trait of the T'au is to be skeptical of things they don't have proof of, which has bitten them in the ass more than once.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The Manta fits this, although 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 T'au 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 Imperial Titan, though its primary role is the transportation and long-range fire support of T'au ground forces, rather than being used for direct combat. During the 7th Edition of the game, the Manta could carry 188 infantry models with the ability to replace a large number of these with Hover Tanks, battlesuits, drones or turrets. The 8th Edition rules increased the total capacity to 200 infantry and/or drones, plus four Hover Tanks and eight battlesuits.
  • Alien Blood: Due to high levels of cobalt, T'au blood is blue, and according to at least one inquisitor, smells awful.
  • Alien Hair: The T'au 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.
  • Aliens Speaking English: T'au education involves implanting didactic modules (microchips containing databases of factual information) into the brains of T'au infants and children, and these include language data. Therefore, almost all T'au 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. Unlike Translator Microbes, any T'au 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, T'au almost always defer to the Water Caste, which does practice speaking and interpreting alien languages, if they are to communicate with aliens. Whether or not a given T'au chooses to speak an alien language is another matter, and how pervasive this is can be subject to Depending on the Writer. Members of castes other than the Water caste tend to defer to dedicated translators when dealing with aliens. After all, that is not their area. 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 the guardsmen he was traveling with on a T'au ship (while disguised as a diplomatic delegation) to watch what they said around the T'au . Even though the only T'au to have spoken to them directly was a Water Caste interpreter, he knew psychically that the other T'au around them understood far more of what they said than they let on. He even speculated that they might be doing so deliberately as a means of getting the humans to let their guard down and say something that the T'au could later use as leverage against them in negotiations.
  • The Alliance: They're the only faction that routinely make close alliances with other races instead of seeing them as something to be destroyed. Amongst the countless vassal races and allies are the barbaric, bird-like Kroot; the insectoid Vespid; the space-faring Nicassar nomads; humans from former Imperial worlds; the dwarf-like Demiurg, merchants and traders; and the reptilian Tarellian mercenaries, who hate the Imperium. While there can be friction between the various races of the Empire, and hints of brainwashing, the T'au Empire remains one of the most united factions in the game.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The Imperium of Man acted as this to the burgeoning T'au Empire. Before humanity, they'd been naive (or arrogant) enough to assume that they could expand across the whole galaxy, conquering or assimilating every other race they came into contact with. Up until the Damocles Gulf Crusade. A mid-sized crusade by Imperial standards was a juggernaut of apocalyptic destruction to the T'au, who were taken aback by the sheer brutality humanity (and especially the Space Marines) could casually dole out on entire planets. Even more sobering was the realization that their "empire" was not even a fraction of a percent of the hundreds of thousands of worlds the Imperium counted among its realm. The Crusade eventually ended in a ceasefire, but ever since then, T'au expansionist policy has become far more careful, and guided by the golden rule of "Do NOT make the Imperium THIS angry again".
  • Ambition Is Evil: A core T'au value, although that only applies to personal ambition. Ambition on an empire-wide scale in following the Greater Good is considered a virtue.
  • Ancient Astronauts:
    • The T'au actually were visited by a space-faring non-indigenous species when they were living as hunter-gatherers: humanity. Though in defiance of this trope, the T'au seem not to regard them with any particular awe. Considering that humans were planning on "sterilizing" and colonizing their planet for themselves, they might also count as Abusive Precursors. Apparently the T'au 's breakthrough into Faster-Than-Light Travel came about when they discovered 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: before the appearance of the first Ethereal, strange lights and sightings of slender figures were reported in the mountainous regions of the T'au homeworld.
  • Animal Theme Naming: All T'au air and land vehicles are named after sea creatures, mostly shark-relatives and fish.
  • Animesque: While the Aeldari were originally based in part on the more historic and spiritual aspects of Japan, and the Far East in general, the T'au draw heavily from the more futuristic view of Japan prevalent in various science fiction anime, most notably with the inclusion of numerous powered suits and Mecha of various shapes and sizes.
  • Anti-Magic: The strange relics that Farsight's forces found on the artefact world of Arthas Moloch seem to provide protection from the unscientific powers used by many of the galexy's races. The 8th Edition rules for the Talisman of Arthas Moloch enables the bearer to deny and enemy psychic power.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: The T'au don't kill members of their own species. Though even the T'au might not be above this for long, as the Ethereals have dispatched a fleet to either bring the Farsight Enclaves to heel, or wipe them out. This also doesn't apply to Ethereals ordering T'au who have displeased them to kill themselves.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Imperium, obviously. The Imperium of Man is the largest, most stable and well-organised faction opposing the T'au, and represent the greatest obstacle to T'au galactic conquest. Additionally, 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 T'au 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.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Common to T'au 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.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: While their Fantastic Caste System determines a T'au'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 T'au 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.
  • Attack Drone: Unlike the Imperium, the T'au make extensive use of artificial intelligences as worker or battlefield drones, and have so far avoided the robot rebellion problem, largely by virtue of not letting their AI get too advanced, as a T'au drone is as advanced as an abacus compared to the supercomputer that was a Man of Iron.
  • Attack Reflector: The Tidewall Field generated by the Tidewall Shieldline is designed to reflect attacks from kinetic and energy weapons back at the firer. The 8th Edition rules represent this with a chance for enemy units suffering mortal wounds when their shooting attacks are saved by the Tidewall Field.
  • Attack Its Weakpoint:
    • One of the core T'au 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 annihilated. It often requires that the T'au Commander doesn't stop attacking for one moment lest their force loses momentum and finds themselves ensnared in a battle of attrition. Once the identified critical target is destroyed, then the T'au may fall back as the enemy line collapses for the loss of its linchpin.
    • On a personal level, the 8th Edition version of the Advanced Targeting System battlesuit support system is designed to allow a Battlesuit pilot to instantly locate and target weaknesses in an enemy's armor, personal or vehicular. In gameplay terms, this translates to an improved Armour Penetration stat for all of a Battlesuit's weaponry.
  • Augmented Reality: The T'au are one of the few factions that bothers to extensively use this. Squads of Pathfinders and drones observing the battlefield continuously feed T'au infantry, tanks and battlesuits with information, predicting shot trajectory, indicating the position and probable path of the enemy, or highlighting weak points.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: In contrast to what was said above, this is averted with any T'au 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 T'au present clearly focused on the essence of the Greater Good and willing to lay down their life without hesitation, fear, or protest if necessary.
  • Badass Army: The T'au are an alien alliance with access to some impressive technology including some of the most powerful guns in the setting, as well as advanced robotics like Mini-Mecha and combat drones. Despite the limited size of their empire and relatively small armies next to the established major players of the galaxy, they have defeated Ork WAAAGHs and Tyranid hive tendrils and fought Imperial crusades to a standstill. They have even defeated Chaos Daemon incursions while lacking psychic powers and anti-daemon weaponry.
  • Badass Normal: The T'au are even physically weaker than humans — in a setting where humans are Puny Earthlings compared to everyone else, and have no psychic potential to boot. However over the course of their short history the T'au have fought the armies of the Imperium to a standstill, killed Space Marines, emerged triumphant against the Asuryani in at least one war, crushed multiple Ork WAAAGHs, survived (and ultimately had a large part in the destruction of) Hive Fleet Gorgon, and even killed a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh and its servants without anti-daemon weaponry. Just through conventional firepower and sheer dedication and belief in their Greater Good ideology. 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.
  • Beginner's Luck: La'Kais, protagonist of the game Fire Warrior, manages to take on and defeat both Imperial and Chaos forces by himself, up to taking down a Lord of Change on his first day of live combat, with some help from both T'au and Ultramarine forces with Chaos. Unfortunately after that he's hit with a bad case of post-traumatic stress disorder and is mentally broken by the experience, though it's suggested he'll get better (and he does: interviews from the developers of the Dawn of War series heavily imply that the T'au commander in Dark Crusade is the same Kais). The book also reveals that Khorne was helping him.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: Compared to standard Imperial procedure, re-education camps and status as an underclass of society isn't so bad.
  • Berserk Button: The fastest way to piss a T'au off? Kill an Ethereal. Especially if that Ethereal is Aun'va. That is to say, if they're not all dead before the shock wears off...
  • Big Book of War: In the wake of the Damocles Crusade, Commander Farsight began a long process of trying to analyze the dizzying number of strategic and tactical doctrines that the Imperial forces seemed to operate under. He compiled these results in a document he called the Da'thle'vral, which loosely translates into Imperial Gothic as "Mirrorcodex". He began adding to this document additional sections for every other species he encountered, and it's been a matter of public record, frequently studied by others in the Fire Caste, updated with new information by a variety of hands ever since.
  • Blade on a Stick: Ethereals sometimes wield an Honor Blade, a staff with a pair of Absurdly Sharp Blades at either end. An Ethereal trained in its use is said to be able to 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 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.
  • Bling of War: Downplayed, especially compared to other powers in the setting. Fire Caste commanders generally wear an additional jeweled ringlet in their scalp locks for each campaign that they have successfully led. However, a T'au 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.
  • Blood Brothers: While the Ta'lissera is common to all T'au 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.
  • Brain/Computer Interface: 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. On 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.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: A literal case for those conquered by the T'au who resist the idea of the Greater Good (although the T'au 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.
  • Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage:
    • While the T'au have no direct analogue to human marriages (the closest they come to is the Bonding Ceremony which involves a mix-gender group of several partners and is a 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 T'au 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 T'au, 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 T'au involved carry matching bonding knives to signify their new-found relationship, much like how a human married couple wear rings.
  • Combat Pragmatist: T'au 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.
  • A Commander Is You: Ranger. The T'au army is defined by high-Strength shooting with decent performance against armour. Basic Fire Warriors have some of the longest ranged and highest strength basic weapons in the game, and the more powerful Rail weapons can cause a lot of damage to both infantry and vehicles. This, combined with the increased accuracy granted by markerlights, means they can cause a lot of damage at extreme range, and even the heavily-armoured Astartes can suffer heavy casualties from T'au fire. T'au also possess great mobility, with access to flying units and terrain-ignoring troop transports. The main weakness of the T'au is their almost total lack of close combat ability, which can see them fall very easily to dedicated melee armies. They also have no psychic powers of their own, and very few defences or counters against them.
  • Compelling Voice: Any orders given by an Ethereal are obeyed without question, something that the Ordo Xenos of the Inquisition are very interested in. How this ability is achieved is unknown but background material in the 8th Edition codex shows that the Ethereal has to be physically present for it to work, while the 2017 novel Farsight: Crisis of Faith implies, via a rather disturbing sequence through the eyes of a Water Caste envoy, that it may actually be psychic in nature.
  • Cosmopolitan Council: When the T'au need to solve a multi-disciplinary problem, they'll form an ad-hoc council comprised of the local ranking representatives of each caste present and their aides, with an Ethereal (if available) to arbitrate and be the decider among the proposals put forward. This council is called a Tau'fann, and is a tradition that can be traced back to the truce at Fio'taun that ended the Mount'au.
  • Crew of One: Many T'au 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 T'au 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.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The basic weapon of the T'au line infantry is powerful enough that even Space Marines are cautious about trying to soak its fire up, and the T'au's anti-vehicle weapons laugh at enemy armor. However, the T'au's poor reflexes compared to other races leave them at a huge disadvantage in a close-quarters battle, to the point that even Imperial Guardsmen can massacre T'au up close in both the rules and background material. 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 T'au have few options when there is a military need to swiftly storm and overrun.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: T'au cities are noticeably cleaner than most Imperial settlements.
  • Cunning Linguist: The Water Caste is responsible for diplomatic relationships but also espionage. They are very good at their jobs, having peacefully annexed several planets, generally spreading propaganda across their sector, and playing on an even field against the Inquisition.
  • Cyber Cyclops: Downplayed with the T'au's design, who tend to have face-concealing helmets with an off-center camera optics cluster, usually with one larger camera "eye" positioned above a smaller one. The original concept artists did this to add a bit of clear "alien" distinctiveness to the T'au who's proprotions might otherwise might be confused for humans at a distance.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique:
    • 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.
    • The T'au have experimented with lifting the Power Limiters on their ion weapons. This allows ion weapons to be fired in an Overclocking Attack 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.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: A race-wide example: the Mont'au, which means "the Terror," was a period when the various T'au factions were in an all-out war that threatened to wipe out the entire species before the Ethereals showed up.
  • Darker and Edgier: After their initial introduction, where the T'au were emphasized as a race of idealistic (and somewhat naïve) optimists, players began complaining that the T'au were too good and pure for the grim setting. The developers have since added some darker elements to the T'au, to the point that by War Zone Damocles: Kauyon, T'au 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.
  • Dark Messiah: 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 T'au's belief system while supposedly secretly controlling the entire race through Mind Control pheromones. Essentially, they can be seen as equivalent to Covenant Prophets in Halo. How did they not piss off the folks that liked the T'au being the only source of pure goodness in the universe? By stating all this through fluff; namely, the somewhat self-serving logs of Imperial xenobiologists.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: The T'au have a word for this: Rip'yka, which translates as "Thousand Daggers". Typically this refers to a meta-strategic technique, similar to the Mont'ka or Kauyon, but while the former focuses on bringing overwhelming force onto a high-priority target and the later draws the enemy into a trap with a lure, the Rip'yka uses many consecutive strikes to gradually bleed the enemy of their strength until they are too weak to fight anymore.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: One of the core branches of T'au tactical doctrine, called "Kauyon" 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 T'au's considerable crossfire.
  • Deflector Shields: The T'au 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 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 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 T'au often put these shields on sacrificial drones which are designed to bodyguard living T'au by throwing themselves into the path of oncoming fire and counting on their shields to protect their assigned T'au.
  • Ditto Aliens: Humans often have trouble telling one T'au apart from another, or even telling which T'au are male or female. The T'au often have similar sentiments about humans.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: T'au 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 neither race wearing clothes beyond a few small items.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: The Earth Caste scientists of the Dal'yth Sept have modified the light-refracting stealth fields of the XV95 Ghostkeel battlesuits to create the Dynamic Mirror Field. This prototype device, which can be fitted to smaller battlesuits, is able to produce multiple false images of the user to draw enemy fire from their real position. The 8th Edition rules represent this by forcing all units firing at a model with a Dynamic Mirror Field to suffer a negative modifier to their to hit rolls.
  • Drone Deployer: The T'au'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.
  • Drop Ship: The Orca Dropshipnote  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 Crisis Battlesuit teams, and a squadren of 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.
  • Dual Wielding: Some Ethereals carry equalizers, paired batons that act as both a badge of office and a weapon. Each equalizer is equipped with a powerful disruption field that allows it to punch through light armour, something represented in all the editions that they appear in by a low Armour Piercing characteristic.
  • Earn Your Title: T'au 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 T'au 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 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.
  • Earthquake Machine: The Seismic Destabiliser is a rare system that uses ultra-low resonance to create localised earth tremors. The T'au use the Destabiliser to undermine defences and drive enemy units out of cover. The 8th Edition rules represents this by giving the model with the Destabiliser the chance of causing mortal wounds on buildings and units in cover.
  • Easy Evangelism: When the Ethereals first revealed themselves to the rest of T'au 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 Handwaved by the Ethereals use of a Compelling Voice. This trope is averted 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 T'au 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 Fantastic Racism if nothing else. T'au-sympathizers versus Throne-loyalists is a common source of civil divide on Imperial worlds which border the T'au Empire, and is understandably seen as a "moral threat" by Imperial authorities.
  • Elite Army: The cadres of the Farsight Enclaves are few in numbers but are the most formidable armies of the T'au. Case in point, XV8 battlesuit teams can be fielded as Troop Choice if you want to play the Farsight enclave.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: Propaganda aside, there are strong hints that Ethereals use pheromones to demand the unquestioning obedience of the other T'au. They still avert the Straw Hypocrite 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.
  • Enemy Scan: High-ranking offices of the Farsight enclaves are often equipped with advanced scanning devices that allow them to identify enemy weak points so that they can make their attacks count. The Focused Fury Strategemnote  allows such characters to re-roll their to wound rolls.
  • Energy Ball: Unlike the more traditional munitions dropped by the bombers of other races, the pulse bombs dropped by T'au AX39 Sun Shark Bombers are balls of plasma held in shape by a pulsed induction field. When dropped on the enemy, these pulse bombs explode, causing devastation over a wide area, something the 8th Edition rules represent with the chance of causing up to ten mortal wounds.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: 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 The 'Verse). For example, the Kroot seek new enemies to diversify their genetic material, so they work with the T'au as frontline troops to get plenty of meat and DNA.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: More Ambiguously Evil than anything else, but this is still one of their most positive traits. The T'au won't care who you are or where you come from. As long as you're willing to fight for the Greater Good, they'll treat you with the same respect as any other of their kin.
  • The Face: The Water Caste are expert negotiators and merchants, and are a big part of the reason why the T'au Empire can form alliances between so many other species. With 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 T'au ideas.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The four main castes are part Hindu Varnas, part Four-Temperament Ensemble and part Elemental Theme Naming: the Earth Caste are artisans and engineers (most of the physical work being done by drones), the Air Caste are Ace Pilots and crew the T'au Empire's navy, the Water Caste are bureaucrats, politicians and diplomats, and the Fire Caste make up the military. The final, ruling caste are the Ethereals.
  • Fantastic Honorifics: Prefixing a T'au'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 T'au by only their personal name is a mark of familiarity, and doing so to a T'au you hardly know is considered rude.
  • Fantastic Race Weapon Affinity: They're the only faction to use plasma weapons as their equipment for their standard troops, while their Kroot allies use long rifles that double as quarterstaves.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: There is an amalgam of various eastern philosophies and aesthetics in the way the T'au are presented, but they resemble no one particular group. However, in the way they fight on the battlefield (with lots of air-mobile and ground-mobile transport, robotic drone support, infantry-guided missile artillery, and battlefield computer networks) they strongly resemble a modern information-age high-tech military, as opposed to the more historically-inspired other armies in the setting. The closest real world equivalent to their overall beliefs is Confucianism.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Those T'au that survived the disastrous events of the Fourth Sphere of Expansion have developed an intense distrust, if not outright hatred, of the non-T'au citizens of the Empire. After a series of violent incidents, the Ethereals have had to order the re-education of a number of T'au Commanders and banned all alien auxiliaries from serving with the Fourth Sphere T'au in order to prevent further unfortunate incidents.
    • Other stories from the 8th edition codices suggest that while the T'au don't practice this to the extent of the Imperium, they're definitely first among equals as far as the other races of the Empire go. One story has them assemble a fleet from a coalition of their subject races to face a Tyranid Hive Fleet: it gets destroyed, but with suspiciously light losses among the T'au themselves. Another has them openly use their client races' civilians as a lure to Dark Eldar raiders, only engaging when the Drukhari are fully committed slaughtering the luckless aliens.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: T'au infantry typically have enclosed helmets with an optics cluster offset from the central vertical axis, and broad pauldrons, but only on their left shoulder. According to the Games Workshop concept artist who designed the T'au, 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 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.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel
    • Notable in that they use a different mechanism for achieving it than most other races. Other races tend to have ships fully enter the Warp, travel to another system, then exit the Warp. The T'au 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.
    • Eventually, through the study and integration of Kroot warspheres and Imperial warp drives, they created the AL-38 Slipstream Module, which creates a bubble of antimatter around the ship and allows it to punch through the fabric of reality. It is significantly faster than their previous method and is relatively safe when used in small groups, but at the grand debut of the 4th sphere of expansion, the Ethereals decided to launch thousands of these ships at once, against the advice of the Earth Caste who designed it. The sheer magnitude of the distortion of reality ripped a hole into warpspace and sucked the entire fleet into the warp. This, however had an unexpected upside in that it also created the Startide Nexus, a wormhole that allows them to instantaneously travel to a different point in the galaxy.
  • Fictionary: One of the better realized examples in the series. T'au 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 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 T'au 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 T'au'va, when T'au would slay one another. "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 T'au words with connotations of death and fear.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon:
    • Flamers are one of the weapon options for XV8 Crisis Battlesuits and are often equipped for operations in dense terrain such as urban environments. The warriors of Vior'la in particular favour the use of flamers due to their preference for high-yield, close-range weaponry.
    • The Thermoneutronic Projector is the pineal of T'au flamer technology. A Signature System of the Vior'la Sept, this highly advanced weapon is fuelled by gases siphoned from a neutron star and is capable of burning through the hull of a battle tank. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving it a stat line superior to the man-portable flamer weapons of the Imperium.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: The T'au 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. That said, the Ethereals seem to be entirely aware of the existence, if not the full nature, of Chaos, which their official policy is designed to hide from the citizens of the Empire. Back when they were largely ignored by the Ruinous Powers, this wasn't much of an issue. In the face of a massive incursion by the Death Guard and the Daemon-Primarch Mortarion himself, however, it's led to widespread panic and terror.
  • Flat World: The primary world of Yo'vai, a Sept of the Fifth Sphere Expansion, is a strange, flat planetary disc that orbits a dwarf star and used as a training ground for by the Fire Caste. The Earth Caste have many theories about how such an unusual world, the most popular being that it was created by a now extinct precursor race.
  • Flawed Prototype: The T'au are constantly innovating and pushing the envelope of their technology, so dangerous prototypes are distressingly common. In particular, early examples of their rail rifle and 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 T'au 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.
  • Flechette Storm: A minor example. T'au 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 "Flechette Launchers".
  • Foil: The T'au were deliberately designed by Games Workshop 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 Cultures of historical armies, the T'au 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 T'au? Functional design and simplicity. If it's unneeded, it's coming off the wall.
  • Foreign Ruling Class: The T'au Empire has annexed several planets inhabited by other species, including humans, who are usually treated well but still ruled by T'au Ethereals.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: And hooves, and unique teeth. Imperial propaganda states that the T'au are descended from grazing bovines.
  • Four Is Death: The First, Second, and Third Sphere Expansions were all considered great successes for the T'au Empire, though varying in degree. However, the Fourth Sphere Expansion was hard to spin as anything but a disaster. The prototype warp engines meant to propel the Fourth Sphere fleet further than any T'au had gone before didn't behave according to expectations, and the Fourth Sphere fleet was considered lost with all hands. The later Fifth Sphere Expansion fleet would retrace the prior fleets steps to find only a quarter of the T'au from the prior expansion survived their ordeal, and none of the non-T'au auxilleries did. Those survivors displayed an uncharacteristic xenophobia, apparently having executed any non-T'au that deployed with them, saying only that they needed to "for the Greater Good". That xenophobia persisted when the T'au of the Fourth Sphere expedition who were reintegrated into the Fifth Sphere expedition's forces perpetuated genocidal massacres on non-T'au populations they were fighting, against both T'au doctrine and direct orders, resulting in many of their commanders being forced to perform Malk'la and their subordinates being sent for reeducation.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: They 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.
  • Galactic Conqueror: This is the T'au's ultimate goal, fueled by Utopia Justifies the Means. The Greater Good demands that all eventually work together toward purposes larger than themselves, and this drives T'au 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 
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: By the fluff, there are only a few Commanders in a Cadre, who are issued with some of the finest and rarest gear in the Empire. You'd never know this by looking at the tabletop, where Commanders are so efficient for their points cost that there's almost no reason to take the supposed backbone of the Empire, the XV-8 Crisis suit, which has led to tournament winning T'au lists consisting of very little besides a swarm of Enforcers and Coldstars.
  • Gatling Good:
    • T'au burst weapons, such as the burst cannons fitted to T'au vehicles and battlesuits or the massive heavy burst cannons fitted to Riptide battlesuits, are multi-barrelled, rotary pulse weapons with a high rate-of-fire. These weapons are one of the primary Anti-Infantry weapons used by the T'au, able to bring down entire squads of lightly armoured infantry.
    • The fusion eradicator fitted to KX-139 Ta'unar Supremacy Armour features is one of the most advanced fusion weapons developed by the T'au’s Earth Cast scientists. Consisting of five rotary chambered super-heavy fusion blasters, the fusion eradicator is an attempt to overcome the fusion blaster’s slow rate of fire that, so far, has only been partially successful as although it is capable of melting just about anything under a rapid barrage of fusion energy, the massive amount of heat produced by the weapon causes it to melt during operation and the whole system must be replaced after a single battle.
  • Gender Is No Object: Neither the T'au 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 T'au sexes, as they have little sexual dimorphism beyond their primary sexual characteristics, and the Kroot have even less than that.
  • Genre Refugee: The whole faction looks and acts more like something out of a traditional Space Opera setting than anyone else in 40K, with a bright, sleek, high tech look utterly unlike the more fantasy-based and monstrous factions opposing them. They really wouldn't feel that out of place in Star Wars or Halo.
  • Glamour: Ethereals are seen this way by other T'au, 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 T'au 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 obey any command they are given.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • A T'au army's overwhelming firepower is offset by its weakness in close combat and the fragility of its troops.
    • Pathfinders are notorious for being about the flimsiest troops the T'au field, being less resilient than Guardsmen, coupled with being so utterly crucial to the way the T'au army functions that they are guaranteed to draw a huge amount of fire. Their priority target status is entirely earned, given what starts happening when their markerlights find you.
  • Gravity Master: The Gravity Wave Projectors fitted to grav-inhibitor drones, and some advanced battlesuits, manipulate the gravity of their surroundings to slow enemy forces as they attempt to engage the Pathfinders they are tasked to. In all versions of their rules, gravity wave projectors reduce the distance an enemy unit can charge when trying to engage the drone or its unit.
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: 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.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Used in two separate ways:
    • Other species who are absorbed into the T'au 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 T'au for protection, and will have to prove itself trustworthy before being allowed to build it back up. The T'au help their conquests to rebuild and elevate their standards of living above that they had before. Their existence is generally quite comfortable, but despite that they have still lost their sovereignty to the T'au.
    • The other T'au 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 Farsight Enclaves, they are more than happy to serve.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: The Ethereal Caste is fully aware of the true nature of Chaos, but refuses to actually act on this knowledge since admitting Chaos exists would completely fly in the face of the T'au's beliefs. This has bitten them in the ass more than once, and came to a head during the debacle that was the Fourth Expansion Sphere, when the activation of too many Slipstream Modules opened a warp rift and caused the manifestation of a warp entity due to the reactions of all the T'au's more psychically active auxiliaries.
  • The Heart: The Ethereal Caste fulfill this role in T'au 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 T'au operate according to its teaching. Many other T'au themselves fear that beyond the Ethereals' benevolent guidance, they would fall back into self-destructive barbarism.
  • Hegemonic Empire: The T'au prefer to persuade new worlds to join their Empire through peaceful means, their Water cast envoys offering their populous advantageous trade, a better quality of life and high-tech equipment and many worlds, particularly these worlds suffering under the rule of the Imperium, have welcomed the T'au with open arms. Worlds often join and stay with the T'au because they grant a far better standard of living than they would otherwise have. This is especially true of former Imperium worlds. Should a world reject their peaceful terms, however, the T'au will send in the Fire cast to take control of the world through force of arms.
  • Heroic BSoD: The death of an Ethereal is devastating to T'au morale. If one is killed, the Fire Caste may panic and attempt an organized retreat.
  • Heroic Safe Mode: 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.
  • Heroic Second Wind: As of 8th Edition, all Battlesuits are fitted with Stimulant Injectors which allow them, at the price of a Command Point, to completely ignore all penalties from suffering wounds until they die or the turn ends. Doing so is almost guaranteed to lead into a Heroic Sacrifice, as the opponent will quite likely put them down for good to prevent it from pulling that stunt twice, but at the cost of possibly ignoring a more useful target.
  • Higher-Tech Species: Played with, in that the T'au have a lower maximum tech level than races like humans (especially as it concerns applications of the Warp such as long range Faster-Than-Light Travel or Teleporters and Transporters) but what technology they do have they understand very well and can manufacture easily. This means that when going up against a Schizo Tech foe such as the Imperium, the T'au 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 Lost Technology, while similar weapons are standard issue among T'au infantry. Also, while Imperial plasma guns are highly dangerous to use, being prone to explosive overheating, T'au plasma weapons are as reliable as Imperial lasguns while packing a lot more of a punch, but the Empire as a whole lacks weapons that can contend with the rarer Imperial weaponry.
  • Homing Projectile:
    • The smart missile systems fitted to T'au Battlesuits and vehicles fire self-guiding missiles that are able to independently identify their and home in on their targets, allowing them to be fired at enemies normally out of the user’s line of fire. All editions of the game represent this by allowing a model armed with a smart missile system to target enemy units they cannot see, with the hits ignoring the benefits of cover.
    • The missiles used by the Kor'vattra, T'au Fleet, in place of torpedoes are fitted with artificial intelligence similar to that used by T'au Attack Drones and are able to alter their speed and course to almost ensure a hit against their target.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Inverted 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 Last Stand as the result of an incompetent commander. Any T'au 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 T'au 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.
  • Hot-Blooded: T'au of the Vior'la Sept, whose name directly translates to "hot-blooded", are renowned for their aggression and fiery temperament. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving Vior'la units a Sept Tenet and unique Strategim that encourages the player to adopt a more aggressive strategy than is typical for a T'au army.
  • Hover Board: Some Ethereals ride into battle atop hover drones that skim a few feet above the ground. Not only does the hover drone give the Ethereals a better view of the ongoing battle, they also increase the model's speed and manoeuvrability. In-game terms, the 8th Edition rules give an Ethereal a boost to their movement characteristic and the Fly keyword.
  • Hover Tank: One of the only three races (and 4 factions) to regularly use them. Characterized by sloping forward hulls and swiveling engine nacelles, T'au tanks lack the speed of Eldar tanks but are better armored, and are faster but more poorly protected than Space Marine hovertanks. They have the Devilfish for infantry transport, the Hammerhead Gunship for hunting armor, and the Skyray for missile defense against aerial threats.
  • Humanoid Aliens: The proportions of their bodies are similar to humans, visibly differing mostly in skin, nose, Four-Fingered Hands, and camel-like feet. At some places in the fiction, the only way to tell whether someone in Fire Warrior armor is a T'au or a well-equipped Gue'vesa auxiliary is that the humans wear boots and five-fingered gloves.
  • Human Popsicle: During the Second Sphere Expansion, the T'au 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 short-lived T'au have some individuals whose accomplishments span a wider breadth of the T'au's history than their lifespan would normally allow.
  • Humongous Mecha: For a long time, the T'au 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 ended very badly for them when Titans were actually used against them since the T'au had no effective way to counter them. Since then, the T'au 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. To develop these, the T'au have to create the Nova Reactor, a dangerous energy source made from black matter which isn't perfected yet and does pose a danger to pilots overusing it. Even bigger than these is KX139 Ta'Unar Supremacy Armour designed to defend planets and which is the size of a small Titan.
  • I Have Many Names: T'au 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 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 T'au .
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: One of the uses of markerlights is to feed targeting data to other T'au units, where 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 T'au's enemies, as they are a force-multiplier for the rest of the T'au army.
  • Immunity Disability: The T'au 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 T'au 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. Even that is no longer protecting them, as daemons of Tzeentch have begun sniffing around and possessing T'au, finding them wonderfully ignorant if unsubstantial prey.
  • Invisibility Cloak: T'au Stealthsuits are one of the smaller varieties of battlesuit, fitting as Powered Armor, 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 T'au forces move to engage, the stealth teams will usually position themselves to assist before resuming their mission.
  • I Owe You My Life: Some of the species that have joined the Empire did so because the T'au saved them from other, less benevolent aliens. At the end of the First Sphere Expansion, for example, the Kroot swore allegiance to the T'au Empire after they help save their home world of Pech from a large Ork Waaagh!
  • It Is Beyond Saving: 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 Orks, a species of Blood Knights that was genetically engineered to lack self-control or empathy, and the Tyranids, a Horde of Alien Locusts whose individual members aren't sapient and whose Hive Mind is too alien to interact with. They are also on the verge of including the Adeptus Astartes onto this list by concluding that a Space Marine is not a person, but rather a humanoid, walking, talking weapon.
  • It's Raining Men: Any T'au 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.
  • I Work Alone: 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' ("Skillful Loner") in flashbacks in the Farsight novella.
  • Jack of All Stats: While the T'au are 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 T'au 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 T'au battlesuits to rain down the fire while on the move.
  • Just the First Citizen: The T'au language has over two dozen subtle distinctions of the phrase "first among equals". These are used to describe the many varieties of seniority and honor among the higher ranks and castes.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: While the T'au as a whole are presented as Wide Eyed Idealists, many of the T'au characters in the fiction who have survived long enough have seen for themselves what kind of universe they inhabit (despite what the Por'hui media claims) and have come to understand just how naïve their faction's idealism is. Despite that, they remain loyal and dutiful, some philosophizing (privately) that striving toward those ideals is more important than achieving them.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Rather quickly, as it turns out. T'au prefer giving up fortresses and bases to making last stands. In the Ciaphas Cain series, they're described as willingly leaving a planet to the Imperium because they don't want to throw good money after bad and, in the grand scheme of things, it's not really all that valuable; if the Imperials want it so badly they can have it, and the T'au will just have to take another crack at it when conditions become more favorable. The Imperial characters, who would fight to the bitter end for every miserable patch of mud that they consider theirs, can't really wrap their minds around this.
  • Laser Blade: Fusion Blades are a modification of the fusion blaster created by the Earth Caste scientists that enable the weapon to produce a continuous stream of energy that can be used for close combat attacks. In the 8th Edition of the game this is represented by allowing the model equipped with Fusion Blades to make melee attacks with the same stats as a fusion blaster.
  • Laser Sight: Markerlights are basically tactical laser beams that, upon connecting with a target, transmit useful computerized information to nearby T'au forces on how to aim and destroy them better. Since Markerlight tokens can be consumed to re-roll hits, ignore cover, or increase BS by 1, they are absolutely instrumental to T'au strategy on the tabletop.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil: Used in an interesting way. T'au 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 the effect those pulse weapons have on targets. The Burst Cannon, owing to its 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.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Good luck getting any T'au from the official septs to say anything about the Farsight Enclaves. While not exactly a cover-up (Commander Farsight was too big a hero in the T'au media to outright deny), the idea that there is a rogue T'au state outside the benevolent guidance of the Etheral Caste is something T'au 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 from a too-drunk Water Caste merchant.
  • Lighter and Softer: The T'au 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.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • T'au 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 Jet Pack 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 Breakers is that they are terrible when swarmed in close combat.
    • The XV104 Riptide Battlesuits are 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 Jet Pack around. It is practically a Flying Brick.
    • 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 T'au 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.
    • The entire design philosophy behind the XV9 Hazard Battlesuit, which is even faster than a Crisis and built entirely for slamming foes with outstanding quantities of firepower at knife-fight ranges. Considering that their basic offensive armament is four(!) burst cannons and they just get more ridiculous from there, they have a nasty habit of making anything that tries to get close to them vaporize.
    • In a similar vein as the Hazard, the XV95 Ghostkeel is a short range monster, albeit built for sheer battlefield survivability instead of pure firepower. It moves as fast as a Crisis suit despite being almost half again the size, can readily absorb hits from the main guns of battle tanks and packs a massive Arm Cannon for obliterating hordes of opponents, all packed very neatly into a nearly invisible stealthsuit platform. Uniquely, it's also the only Battlesuit which physically qualifies as a bruiser, as its legs are strong enough to kick through vehicle armor or even straight through battlefield fortifications without the aid of its dedicated suite of anti-armor guns.
    • Originally lacking the "Bruiser" aspect due to its rather restricted loadout, the retooled XV-8-06 Coldstar is now the very essence of the Mont'ka philosophy. With the same customizability as the Enforcer and the ability to rocket 40" across the battlefield in a single move while still firing all guns at only a minimal To Hit penalty, fit your Commander with a suite of Fusion Blasters and marvel as they leap halfway across the battlefield to vaporize squadrons of tanks with minimal effort. The only major downside is this is almost guaranteed to be a Mutual Kill, as the Coldstar is a Fragile Speedster compared to the slower but much better armored Enforcer.
  • Long-Range Fighter: To the point of Crippling Overspecialization, but damn if they are not good at it. Only the Imperial Guard and the Orks can put out more shots, but the T'au hit more powerfully and, with the aid of markerlights, more accurately. Because they suck at close combat, the T'au rely primarily on the Kroot to go up close.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: T'au 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 around blocking terrain.
  • Made a Slave: Although they do not call it that, one of the darker sides to the T'au'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 T'au and do not accept the Greater Good after surrendering are put into single-sex concentration camps to be re-educated. 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 but for the many. That said, the T'au make sure all their prisoners' basic needs are met, do not engage in unnecessary torture, sacrifice, arbitrary executions, or work the prisoners to death, which puts them above a lot of the other users of this trope in this setting.
  • Magnetic Weapons: This is the T'au'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 Hammerhead Gunships. A lighter version with two barrels is carried by XV88 Broadside Battlesuits and Pathfinder snipers carry an even smaller variant.
  • Meat Versus Veggies: T'au are herbivorous while Kroot are carnivorous. It's zigzagged how much the two races resent each other over it, with the T'au's shame-happy propaganda and the Kroot's snarky, pseudo-sadistic demeanor. As a whole the trope lands somewhere on the subverted side oft things, since the T'au are aware the Kroot can only eat meat.
  • Mecha: Lacking in Super Soldiers but being technologically savvy, the T'au Fire Caste makes ample use of what they call battlesuits, technological marvels encasing an elite T'au Fire Warrior in reinforced armor, giving them the strength to wield heavy weapons, and usually equipped with Jet Packs to enhance the battlesuit pilot's manoeuvability on the battlefield. They come in several size and sorts.
  • Mecha Expansion Pack: The Crisis and Broadside battlesuits have a common chassis, simplifying 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 Shoulder Cannon style as mentioned abovenote . 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 Arm Cannon 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 Mecha Expansion Pack 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 Ace Custom 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 high-output burst cannon, both of which retain the ability to quickly tailor weapons or support systems as needed.
  • Medieval Stasis: Averted. The T'au are the only race who have made significant technological advances in the last 10,000 years (besides the Tyranids, who are constantly evolving).
  • The Mentor: 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.
  • Mind over Manners: Something that the Ethereals regularly engage in. Though they can give a command to any other T'au and will be obeyed without question, they generally prefer to explain their orders when they can, occasionally using koans or trick debates to allow other T'au to reach the conclusion they already had in mind. This is done because the Ethereals' Compelling Voice only seems to work when talking in person (giving credit to the "mind-control pheromones" theory) and since Ethereals cannot be everywhere at once, they have gradually cultivated T'au culture to obey them even without compulsion.
  • Mini-Mecha: Any T'au battlesuit with an "8" in the first digit of its designation will classify as this. These types of battlesuits are the most common and are used by placing the pilot inside the chest part of the suit, connecting his nervous system to the suit so it acts as a second body. They come in several variants, like the Jack-of-All-Trades/Jack of All Stats XV8 Crisis suit which can be kitted with numerous systems for any type of mission; the Mighty Glacier XV88 Broadside which trades the jet pack for a powerful rail gun and better armor; or the Lightning Bruiser XV86 Coldstar battlesuit.
  • Mirroring Factions:
    • Expect this trope to come up in any story with interaction between the T'au and the Imperium. 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. T'au will often use it as a Hannibal Lecture 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 Hannibal Lecture of their own, cynically explaining that the T'au are no better than the Imperials, the Imperials just admit their darkness more freely than the T'au.
    • In a broad sense, their history is also surprisingly similar to that of the Imperium's. They both had periods of their early history where they almost wiped themselves out in apocalyptic warfare (the Age of Strife and the Mont'au), only to have mysterious, powerful and charismatic beings (the Emperor and the Ethereals) pull them out of it with a unifying, secular philosophy (the Imperial Truth and the Greater Good). They then rose to never before known heights (the Great Crusade and the Spheres of Expansion) only to have had those expansions halted or put at risk by celebrated commanders going rogue through the (in the case of the T'au, probable) influence of Chaos (Horus and the Horus Heresy, Commander Farsight and the Farsight Enclaves) that both sides now cover up and deny the details of to their general populations.
  • Missile Lock-On: T'au 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 markerlight designating their target before they will fire. The usual usage of this trope is subverted 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 High-Speed Missile Dodge.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: In older editions pulse carbines were equipped with under-slung photon grenade launchers that blinded and disorientated enemy units that the weapon's wielder fired at, reducing their combat effectiveness.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: T'au eyes are always depicted as being of a solid color all the way through. However, 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 missing eyes.)
  • More than Mind Control: The Ethereals' uncanny control over the rest of the T'au 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 T'au like Farsight seem to be unfazed.
    • The Magos Biologis have advanced the theory that it's pheromone-based to some degree, due to the presence of several otherwise unexplained scent glands they have found inside dissected Ethereals. Disturbingly, they bear significant physical and genetic similarities to glands known to serve this exact purpose in a spacefaring insectoid race known as the Q'Orl. Several of whose Hive Queens just so happened to disappear a few years prior to the Etherals appearing on T'au...
    • Crisis of Faith poses its own dark interpretation, since we get to see the Ethereals Compelling Voice through the eyes of a regular T'au for the first time. It's very strongly hinted to be a form of psychic compulsion, overriding the will of their hapless and terrified subject.
  • Mysterious Benefactor: 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 T'au into a potential subservient allied race.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Although 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.
  • Named After Their Planet: This race and their homeworld are both named T'au.
  • The Needs of the Many: 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 T'au choose to benefit the largest idea of "us" possible.
  • Neural Implanting: A part of the T'au'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 T'au 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, T'au education supplements these with lots of drilling and practice of the information most pertinent to each T'au'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.)
  • Night-Vision Goggles: The blacksun filter, fitted to some battlesuits and T'au infantry helmets, is one of the more advanced night-vision technologies in the setting as not only does it enhance the low-light vision of the wearer, it is also programmed to automatically protect their sight from blinding flashes of light. In those editions where there are rules for them, blacksun filters gave their wearer bonuses during Night Fight scenarios and protected them from the Blind special rule.
  • Nom de Guerre: 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.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: While the T'au are powerful, possessing enough strength to seriously trouble local Imperium authority, their generally low scale (possessing mere dozens of worlds compared to the hundreds of thousands of humanity), lack of long distance faster-than-light travel and the relatively out-of-the-way position of their empire means that they are under-powered on the galactic stage. They are, however, one of the fastest growing and advancing factions in the setting and some people in-universe believe that they could become a serious threat in the future.
  • The Noseless: The T'au are almost Rubber-Forehead Aliens, 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. Commander Shadowsun has a slit that parts halfway up into a Y-shape, though it is unknown if this is characteristic of all female T'au.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Inverted 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.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. There are at least three, possibly four, different distinct characters in the fluff all named "Kais". One from the T'au codex, one from a novel, and one or two from Video Games, all refering to different characters. "Kais" means "skillful" in T'au, and is presumalby a common given name among them.
  • Orbital Bombardment: T'au Commanders are able to call in support from Air Caste ships in high orbit. These ships are able to unleash a pulse of energy from their massive ion cannons with far greater accuracy than the ships of other races. This is represented in the 8th Edition of the game by the 'Orbital Ion Beam' T'au Empire Stratagem.
  • Ornamental Weapon: T'au Bonding Knives carried by Fire Warrior team leaders. These are ceremonial blades, meant to mark the team as bonded by the Ta'lissera ritual, and it would be highly improper to actually use such a sacred knife on one's enemies. Its presence is more to remind the team of their bonds to one another, helping them rally through even the worst of conditions.
  • Our Souls Are Different: T'au, 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 T'au—their connection with the Warp is too weak for such powers to manifest among them.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: The Startide Nexus is a mysterious wormhole created by the events of the disastrous Fourth Sphere of Expansion that links the T'au Empire with the area of space known as the Nem'yar Atoll. How the Startide Nexus was created is unknown but the Fourth Sphere survivors claim they it was torn through the fabric of reality by a powerful entity with a nightmarish sentience.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The T'au cop this attitude, looking down on races like humans as being crude and superstitious. Except in this setting, those superstitions are true. Some of the writing from T'au perspective suggests that many T'au do get an inkling of what unexplainable horrors lurk in the galaxy, but it is not considered politically correct to mention it, and what they do learn is heavily censored , with one T'au official in the short story "Fire and Ice" referring to Chaos as a "psychic malaise."
  • Perilous Power Source: 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 T'au'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, 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.
  • Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements: T'au armored units use a genescanning system to prevent hijacking, as demonstrated when an Imperial commando tried to use a battlesuit and got electrocuted for his trouble.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: 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.
  • Plasma Cannon:
    • Pulse weapons are the most common T'au weapon, issued to line infantry. Unlike most plasma weaponry technology in the setting, 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 Pure Energy 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 T'au have developed a number of different pulse weapons including, but not limited to, the standard issue pulse rifle, the lighter pulse carbines and the multi-barrelled burst cannons.
    • The T'au 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 T'au 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 T'au by the Demiurgnote . Traditionally mounted on vehicles as a medium weapon for dealing with heavy infantry or light vehicles, the T'au have also 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.
  • Powered Armor: Battlesuits of the XV2 weight class and smaller, such as stealth and pilot battlesuits, are advanced suits of powered armour consisting of plates of light but dense crystalline alloy and incorporate a number of advanced technical systems specific to the battlesuit's designated role such as the jetpacks and holographic disruption fields fitted to stealthsuts.
  • Power Fist: The T'au 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.
  • Praetorian Guard: Bodyguard Teams decked out in XV8 suits protect T'au commanders.
  • Propaganda Machine:
    • The T'au Por'hui media is composed of Water Caste members who have the job of reporting on empire-wide events and evangelizing the T'au 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 T'au 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 T'au's slow FTL travel, lack of super-luminal communication, and the fact that most of the galaxy is simply not interested in joining.
    • Things have taken on a more actively Orwellian tone with its lies of omission. The much vaunted Fourth Sphere Expansion quickly, quietly and completely disappeared from their news coverage when the fleets were swallowed by Warp Storms created by the formation of the Great Rift. The Ethereals deemed the censorship necessary to continue hiding the existence of Chaos from the Empire at large.
  • Punctuation Shaker: The T'au language makes liberal use of apostrophes, particularly within its naming conventions to separate syllables and the constituent parts of portmanteau words. For example, Kor'vesa, the T'au word for drone, consists of Kor, meaning faithful, and vesa, meaning helper. In the 8th Edition, the race itself was renamed from Tau to T'au to fit with this theme, as well as making them a true example of Named After Their Planet as their home world had always been spelled with the apostrophe.
  • Puppet Gun: T'au drone sniper teams are guided by a single Fire caste spotter with an elaborate computerized rig they use to aim and fire the weapons mounted on their Attack Drones.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Eight, Farsight and his True Companions. They are Farsight himself, a T'au who relies on the life support in his Battlesuit to survive, a T'au who isn't even a member of the Fire Caste, the latest carrier of a title belonging to one of Farsight's most loyal soldiers, a T'au 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 defected from the T'au Empire.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: Pulse pistols hit just as hard as most T'au pulse weaponry, but don't have the same functional range. However, they aren't issued as primary weapons, but as compact emergency weapons for vehicle crews and battlesuit pilots in case they have to abandon their vehicle or battlesuit and the weaponry built into it.
  • Realpolitik: Characteristic of T'au/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 Hive Fleet Behemoth. The T'au 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 stomped as most of their defenses were already removed. The T'au defend their aggressive actions by saying that if they had not "expanded defensive interests" to those Imperial worlds then other, less benevolent 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 T'au eventually, they generally refrain from taking direct offensive action against them, except to try and liberate Imperial worlds that the T'au have annexed, preferring instead a policy of trying to contain the T'au Empire's expansion. This is in part because of the huge drain of military resources that would be required to completely rout the T'au, but it also is because the T'au 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 T'au Empire exists, it will distract other potential threats away from Imperial worlds, and the Imperium is only too happy to let that happen.
  • Recursive Ammo:
    • The railgun mounted on the Hammerhead gunship, in addition to firing anti-tank penetrator rounds, is also capable of firing a round which is a conductive shell surrounding a sophisticated bundle of sub-munitions. This shell is programmed to detonate a small explosive shortly before reaching the target point, scattering the submunitions over an area surrounding the target. This enables the Hammerhead to engage scattered light targets in addition to the concentrated heavy targets it normally deals with, making it a very tactically flexible mobile weapon platform.
    • The airbursting fragmentation projector is an experimental mortar-like weapon. When fired, the warhead of the projector explodes above the target, scattering countless bomblets across a wide area. The in-game rules represent this by giving the projector the chance to strike multiple models and, depending on the edition, ignore cover or enable the firer to hit targets they cannot see.
  • Reporting Names: 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 the T'au counting by base eight.
  • Revenge Before Reason: If an Etheral is killed while in a theater of war, the other T'au present typically go through several stages. First they fall back in a panic, then go into stunned inactivity while they try to come to grips with what happened, then gradually try to return to their duties by numbly going through the motions, which eventually gives way to 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 T'au drop their normal policies of allowing a retreating enemy to withdraw or accepting their surrender, and their new objective becomes to kill as many of the foe as they can.
  • Robot Antennae: The T'au have this as a common aesthetic feature to their technology, from their drones to their vehicles to their helmets. These were deliberately chosen by their concept artists and model designers to give them an animesque visual profile while reinforcing their Higher-Tech Species image.
  • Roboteching:
    • The T'au's seeker missles function like this. A unit somewhere on the battlefield requests a seeker missile launch via a 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 T'au's smart missile systems, which fire a salvo of 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 T'au's more typical high power, long range weaponry.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: There is a good reason why they are sometimes referred to as "Blue Space Communists." Though they could also be considered an inversion of the "As Religious Fundamentalists" version of this trope, as they're Flat Earth Atheists.
  • Schizo Tech: Averted with the T'au themselves, but present with the allied societies inducted into the T'au Empire.
  • Science Cannot Comprehend Phlebotinum: The T'au have, at best, an extremely limited understanding of psykers, Chaos and the Warp itself, due to not having evolved to the point of developing their own psykers and only having limited interactions with Chaos forces for a long time.
  • Sentry Gun: The T'au deploy a number of automated sentry guns that utilize the same AI as their Drones. These sentry guns range from the small DS8 Tactical Support Turret, deployed via Drop Ship to support Fire Warrior squads in the field, to the larger Drone Sentry Turrets used to defend command bases, airfields and important Earth Caste facilities.
  • Seppuku: The T'au call this Malk'la, and it might be demanded by the Etherals of a high-ranking T'au who causes a serious breach of conduct. The ritual is not described, but is said to scar all who see it.
  • Sergeant Rock: A Cadre Fireblade is a high-ranking 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. Although a Fireblade is unable to attain the Shas'O rank, he still is considered extremely important to the T'au Empire.
  • Series Continuity Error: A minor example. The ace Hammerhead pilot Longstrike was said to make his reputation during the T'au conquest of T'ros by managing to 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.
  • Shiny-Looking Spaceships: Notable in contrast to the Imperium, which has very old space ships with baroque hulls that make them resemble space cathedrals. The 13th Penal Legion's Lt. Kage once noted to himself how odd he felt the interior of a T'au ship was, finding the cleanliness and quietness of the ship's interior to be rather unnerving in contrast to the well-lived-in state of most Imperial ships. Justified by the fact that most T'au 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 T'au'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.
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Concessions to the scale of the tabletop aside, the T'au try to avert 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.
  • Shout-Out: The Battlesuits, unsurprisingly, contain many nods to the Gundam series, and Appleseed in their designs.
    • The XV-88 series is an obvious homage to Mobile Suit Gundam's RX-77 Guncannon, with its similar model number and twin shoulder cannons and arm-mounted missile launchers. The updated Sixth Edition XV-88s boasts a larger hull and a standard armament in the shape of a Rail Rifle that requires both of its arms to carry... Sniper GM or Zaku, anyone?
    • Commander Farsight's Custom Crisis Battlesuit sports a red paintjob and silver helmet.
    • One of the Hazard suits' weapons is a double burst cannon which is often twin-linked, in the style of Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz's Heavyarms.
    • The Riptide is pretty blatantly the Full Armor ZZ Gundam. Not only is it a bigger, beefier version of the classic Crisis suit, it can fire off a Macross Missile Massacre and has a super powerful energy weapon that's very risky to use.
    • Conversely, the Forge World-made KX139 Ta'unar Supremacy Armour resembles a Destroid with its multi-barrel Arm Cannons and several artillery-style over-the-head Shoulder Cannon barrels.
    • The XV-95 Ghostkeel, with it's ball-shaped optical sensor "head", roomier chest cockpit that folds open for rapid ingress and general body layout greatly resembles one of the titular machines from Titanfall.
  • Skilled, but Naive: The T'au 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.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The T'au 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 T'au, and the T'au'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.
  • Smart Gun: Standard issue on all T'au firearms, feeding information on its state back to its wielder and using Augmented Reality Heads Up Displays to show firing arcs and outline known targets. It requires an information feed from Markerlights to make full use of those more advanced abilities, though.
  • Sniper Rifle:
    • The T'au Rail Rifle is a misnomer, as railguns do not use rifling, but it does fit a marksmen's niche. Earlier Flawed Prototype models were subject to occasional unexpected capacitor discharge, potentially injuring or killing the wielder, but the Earth Caste eventually ironed out that glitch. For safety reasons, most of those rifles were mounted on special 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.
    • "Longshot" pulse rifles have come into vogue among T'au 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.
  • Space Cold War: Effectively the state of Imperium/T'au 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 T'au 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 T'au 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.
  • Space Romans: The T'au culture is a pastiche of various Eastern philosophies and civilizations. Also, an important but often overlooked inspiration for the T'au is that of The British Empire 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.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • T'au call humans "Gue'la". This is awfully similar to the Cantonese insult "gweilo" for Westerners when pronounced just right, as Dawn of War players discovered.
    • The first digit in a T'au battlesuit's designation is its size class, ranging from one for form-fitting Powered Armor to eight for Mini-Mecha. This is in keeping with the T'au's base-eight counting system, as T'au have Four-Fingered Hands. However, Forge World makes a line of 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 up to eleven.
    • The way the T'au 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.
  • Sudden Name Change: In the transition from 7th to 8th Edition, the name of newest empire of the galaxy gained an apostrophe from Tau to T'au.
  • Super Prototype: Once T'au technology moves beyond the Flawed Prototype stage, it is often given a limited production run and issued to ranking T'au 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 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. For example, Rail Rifles and Ghostkeel Battlesuits fall into the former category, XV-22's and Cyclic Ion Blasters are of the latter variety.
  • Taking the Bullet: All the drones T'au use on the battlefield are programmed to protect their living masters, even if it means their own destruction. Shield drones in particular are specifically designed with this role in mind and are equipped with built in shield generators. In the 8th Edition rules, this programming is represented by the Saviour Protocols ability that gives the drone a high chance of taking a hit in place of a nearby T'au infantry or battlesuit model.
  • Target Spotter:
    • The primary function of Markerlights, which feed targeting data to the T'au'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.
    • Air Caste reconnaissance aircraft often act as spotters for their ground based Fire Caste comrades, seeking targets and hitting them with markerlights. In-game, the Aerial Targeting Stratagem note  represents such aircraft by adding extra markerlight hits to enemy units.
  • Toxic Phlebotinum: The T'au 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 increase its power. Unfortunately, this process also gives off low levels of harmful radiation. For this reason, T'au 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.
  • Tranquil Fury: Killing an Ethereal typically causes the other T'au to go into shock. Once they get over that, however, they will hunt you down, advancing boldly behind a fusillade of plasma fire.
  • Tribal Facepaint: An old practice by the plains-hunting tribes in T'au pre-history, which is still practiced by their modern descendants in the Fire Caste, except that 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.
  • Trick Bomb: The T'au make exclusive use of this in their grenades:
    • Photon Grenades: High-tech flashbangs, either hand thrown or shot out of a pulse carbine's integrated Grenade Launcher. The T'au 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 Grenades: Hand-delivered anti-machine weapons. The T'au 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.
  • True Companions:
    • Fire Warrior squads sometimes undergo a ritualistic blood-mingling ceremony, which translates into improved morale on the tabletop.
    • The Eight, consisting of Commander Farsight and seven of his most trusted allies.
  • Tulpa: A Warp entity that seems to embody the Greater Good has been reported assisting T'au ships becalmed within deep space. While not named, it resembles a hybrid of human and T'au bodily shapes with countless arms. While the T'au are not particularly sensitive to the Warp and only have a faint presence within it, the power of their souls and their belief in the Greater Good, coupled with the numerous and much more psychically-potent species with their Empire, seems to have come together to create this entity from mutual belief.
  • The Un-Favourite: Much like the Dark Eldar before them (though to a lesser degree) the T'au went more than six years and the entirety of Fifth Edition without an up-to-date codex. However, the Sixth Edition T'au Codex brought the army up to a competitive standard, with rebalanced forces and new units to employ, and the 7th edition codex made the T'au one of the strongest armies in the game.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The T'au of the fourth sphere expansion develop a near-genocidal hatred for the axillary races after they find out that their devotion to the Greater Good ended up creating a warp entity, even though this same entity saved them from the warp and got them back into real space.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: T'au battlesuits range in size from Powered Armor to Mini-Mecha 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.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Any T'au who manages to withstand the Heroic BSoD of the death of their Ethereal becomes a truly terrifying force of plasma-spewing death.
  • Up Through the Ranks: 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.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The T'au Kick the Dog 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 T'au can indoctrinate them. Troublemakers are placed in guarded reeducation camps and determined recidivists are made to simply disappear and are never heard from again.
  • Veganopia: It is stated by at least one Inquisitor that T'au 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 T'au caste which does eat meat, and even then only in a ritual manner. All other T'au dishes depicted in fiction have been of the non-meat variety, though starfish and other sea creatures have appeared.
  • Victory by Endurance: Most of the T'au's major conflicts with the Imperium (the Damocles Crusade, the Taros Campaign, etc.) have been resolved in the T'au's favor by this method. The T'au lack the 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 Hit-and-Run Tactics, rear-line disruption, and selectively giving ground until the Imperial authorities decide they have more pressing military business elsewhere.
  • Virtual Ghost: The T'au 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 reassembled this knowledge and personality as exactly as possible in the form of a 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 True Companions is a Battlesuit controlled by an AI based on the brain of his former superior officer.
    • Neural Implanting: The T'au 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.
    • The creation of these chips was actually more horrifying than the Ethereals will ever admit, as the process of extracting and copying his memories actually killed Puretide. Farsight himself was forced to oversee and complete the process, which disturbed him greatly, and, just before his teacher died, Puretide gave his pupil a warning that would go on to shape his entire worldview.
      Puretide: "Do not trust [the Ethereals], my child."
  • Walking Armory: 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. The result is spectacular.
  • Walking Tank: The T'au Ballistic Suits like the KV128 Stormsurge, kitted with a Pulse Cannon and many, many missiles. In a departure from more conventional Battlesuits, they are designed for taking on larger enemy weapons, being heavily armored weapons platforms rather than high-mobility force-multipliers. In fact, they often have crews of more than one (a dedicated pilot and a dedicated gunner) and the crew are recruited from experienced Hammerhead crews who are put through additional specialist training.
  • We Have Reserves:
    • Averted, in that the T'au 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 forms 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, T'au forces will do a Tactical Withdrawal rather than lose a signifigant amount of personnel, so that the survivors can be redeployed to hit a more vulnerable flank.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 T'au his life. They are wholly expendable, because the T'au themselves are not.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Strongly averted. T'au 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.
  • We Will Wear Armor in the Future:
    • T'au 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 T'au to make tanks light enough to hover, and battlesuits light enough to nimbly Jet Pack 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.
  • Weak to Magic: The T'au have little to no Warp presence, meaning they have no psykers and are (with one possibly Retconned exception) immune to the corrupting aspects of the Warp, unlike humans and Eldar. However, it also means they don't really know how to deal with psychic powers and the daemonic invasions they cause. Tabletop-wise, this can be problematic since psychic powers and magic hurt T'au just as badly as most other races, and their units lack Deny the Witch rules to mitigate this.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The T'au are young, idealistic, and wish to explore the galaxy, inviting new races into their sphere of influence. They think they're in a Space Opera. They're... not.

     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, Hero of the 3rd Sphere Expansion

To follow any path other than the Tau'va 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.

Recognised as one of the greatest military minds of her generation, O'Shaserra was given the honour of studying under the legendary military genius Commander Puretide. Despite her youth, O'Shaserra excelled at her studies and developed a strong rivalry with Puretide's greatest student, Commander O'Shavah. After Puretide's death, O'Shaserra was placed in stasis, in an attempt to preserve the creative commander’s teachings, and wasn't reawakened until just before the Third Sphere Expansion where she replaced her traitorous rival as the figurehead of the Fire Caste. After the Third Sphere ended with the war for Mu'gulath Bay, O'Shaserra entered stasis once again, until she was revived to lead the Fifth Sphere Expansion and has led the the forces of the T'au Empire to victory numerous times in an increasingly dangerous galaxy.

  • Action Girl: A rarity among 40k's special characters, who tend to be overwhelmingly male or genderless.
  • Body Double: Shadowsun's personal squad used the first mass produced XV22 armors to impersonate her on the battlefield, in order to escape the White Scars and Raven Guard on Prefectia (as well as kill the Raven Guard's Chapter Master).
  • Close-Range Combatant: By T'au standards. Shadowsun equips her XV22 with a pair of Fusion Blasters for Armor Piercing Attacks that are only effective at short range. Thanks to the stealth capabilities of her suit and its Jet Pack, 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.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: While later editions mitigated this somewhat, when originally introduced Commander Shadowsun was frighteningly effective in urban combatnote  but became a massive liability when used in more open environments.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Believed that the Raven Guard's Chapter Master was the supreme leader of the Imperium's forces, and that killing him would send the entire "invasion" into disarray as they turned on one another to determine a new leader. While she did managed to kill the Raven Guard's chapter master, at significant cost and sacrifice, it did little good as the Raven Guard had a new leader by the next morning, and it did next to nothing to slow the Imperium's operation.
  • Draw Aggro: During the Prefectia campaign, Shadowsun used herself (and several Body Doubles) as a bait because of the Space Marines' tendency to go Straight for the Commander and lure them into ambushes, eventually killing the Chapter Master of the Raven Guard.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: In Farsight: Crisis of Faith, although Shadowsun was responsible for a larger number of victories when the Imperium invaded the Da'lyth Sept, hers were less glorious compared to Farsight's on whom the Water Caste and Ethereals deflected all the glory. She is a little miffed to not being acknowleged by this.
  • Four-Star Badass: 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 (and participate in) battles personally.
  • Hearing Voices: On the world of Agrellan she started hearing warp echoes from the apocalyptic something that the Imperial Guard had enacted centuries earlier. This lasts for several weeks after she leaves...
  • Iconic Outfit: Shadowsun is known for wearing the unique prototype of the XV22 Battlesuit in combat. She uses that to her advantage to ambush the Raven Guard with a body double wearing her suit, while she pilots the brand-new Ghostkeel Battlesuit.
  • Iron Lady: Shadowsun is shown as a cold and no-nonsense T'au who has a hard time being tactful. Even if Aun'va is present, a sight which would inspire great awe for any other T'au, she remains aloof and focused on her military duties.
  • Last of Her Kind: The novella Shadowsun: The Last of Kiru's Line has her learning that her two younger sisters have died in combat, and she's the remaining member of her line. The rest of the story after this revelation has her trying to decide if she wants to continue being a battlefield commander, or take the option presented to all T'au of being exempt of combat if one is the last of their family. In the end, she takes the former choice.
  • Meaningful Name: She earned her title by arranging for T'au 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 T'au's favor. Thus for the creation of this innovative tactic of blocking the light, she was honored as "Shadowsun".
  • Mecha Expansion Pack: Shadowsun's signiture XV22 battlesuit was upgraded for the Fifth Sphere Expansion with the addition of the newer model of jetpack, additional weaponry and an additional pair of robotic arms, slaved to her normal arms, that incorperate a pair of prototype fusion blasters.
  • The Rival: To Commander Farsight, who she regards as an unrepentant traitor to the Greater Good and seeks to confront and defeat him one day. 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.
  • Ship Tease: It is implied by some meaningful looks and gestures between her and Farsight in the Farsight: Crisis of Faith novel that they had feelings for each others during their training at Mount Kan'ji.
  • Stealth Expert: 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 T'au's stealthsuits, and she was judged the most fitting to put it through its paces.
  • Super Prototype: 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 T'au 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.
  • Taking the Bullet: Due to her many victories in the name of the Greater Good Shadowsun is beloved by the Fire Caste, especially the Stealth Battlesuit Teams she typically fights alongside. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the Defender of the Greater Good ability that allows the player to ignore a wound Shadowsun takes in favour of a nearby Stealth Battlesuit Team taking a mortal wound instead.
  • Underestimating Badassery: In War Zone Damocles: Kauyon she seriously misjudged the Space Marines, apparently thinking their Asskicking Equals Authority 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).

Ethereal Supreme Aun'va, Master of the Undying Spirit

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

As the highest-ranked member of the Etherial High Council, Ethereal Supreme Aun'va is effectively the ultimate leader of the entire T'au Empire. Revered by the T'au for his wisdom, Aun'va has been behind many of the Empire's greatest successes, from the destruction of the vicious Reek in the Si'coa System to masterminding the Third Sphere Expansion. Aun'va has spent more time leading the forces of the Fire Caste in battle than any previous Ethereal Supreme, something that almost proved disastrous when the Great Leader was slain by an Imperial Culexus Assassin during the battle for Mu'gulath Bay. In order to prevent panic spreading across the entire T'au Empire, the ancient Ethereal has been replaced by an advanced hologram and AI personality matrix that now serves as the figurehead of the High Council.

  • Big Good: He is the Aun'o, the Ethereal Supreme and leader of the T'au Empire, making him the eldest and wisest leader among all of them.
  • Cool Chair: Due to his advancing age, Aun'va had, for a long time, travelled around in a hover-throne fitted with powerful deflector shields and other sophisticated systems. Since his death, the hover-throne has been fitted with a holographic projector and AI personality matrix to keep up the masquerade that the Ethereal Supreme is still alive.
  • Cool Old Guy: 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. However, Farsight: Crisis of Faith novel shows that he is ruthless against failures, especially those that make the Ethereals look bad.
  • Deflector Shield: To protect himself, Aun'Va uses a subsystem known as the Paradox of Duality which creates a protective field whose strength grows with the strength of the weapons he's fired at with.
  • El Cid Ploy: 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 T'au knew the Ethereal Supreme is dead.
  • Joke Character: In 4th edition, he was widely considered to be the worst special character ever made, due to him not bringing much to the battlefield and potentially crippling your own army if he was killed. His 6th edition rules instead made him into a support role, buffing your troops like he was supposed to in fluff.
  • Killed Off for Real: 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 T'au morale.
  • Praetorian Guard: Aun'va is always accompanied by an Honour Guard of Ethereals, specially trained as warriors. It is the duty of these Ethereal Guards to protect the Ethereal Supreme from all harm, and to prevent the discovery of the Ethereal Council's deception.
  • Support Party Member: While most Ethereals are this, Aun'va takes it up a notch. His benefit to a T'au 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.
  • Virtual Ghost: 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 T'au as proof of his "survival" to prevent T'au morale from being shattered.
  • You Have Failed Me: In the Farsight: Crisis of Faith novel, Aun'Va orders a Water Caste magister to kill herself because she revealed an embarrassing intel that went public, making the Ethereals look bad.

Aun'shi, Master of the Blade

I have taken great pains not to laugh at the actions of aliens, nor to weep at them or to hate them, but to understand them.

A modest and elderly Ethereal from the Vior'la Sept, Aun'shi is a popular and highly talented warrior, despite his longing for peace. Aun'shi came to prominence towards the end of his career when he used his knowledge and martial skill to lead the defenders of the colony of Kel'tyr to victory against wave after wave of barbaric Orks. Since his astonishing victory, the fame of the 'aged wonder', as he has become known, has grown exponentially, becoming a living legend amongst the Fire Caste who is even welcome within the Farsight Enclaves, where Ethereals are usually treated with suspicion.

  • Ambadassador: As the only Ethereal still welcome in the Farsight Enclaves, he frequently finds himself playing this role.
  • Blade on a Stick: Aun'Shi uses the Ethereals' honour blade in combat, a pole with one blade on each end.
  • Close-Range Combatant: No Ethereal trains with guns (that is what Fire Warriors are for) but they do train with the honour 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.
  • Deflector Shields: Carries a shield generator.
  • Double Weapon: Aun'shi's Honour Blade is a long staff with sword-like blades at either end.
  • Good Luck Charm: He is considered to be one by any army who has the honour of having him embedded into them during a campaign.
  • Master Swordsman: Most Ethereals practice somewhat with the honour blade for ritualistic duels, but Aun'shi has devoted himself to perfecting the art of it.

Sub-Commander Darkstrider, the Shadow that Strikes

We engaged and destroyed the enemy column in accordance with mission parameters. No, I received no such orders to disengage and fall back, shas'o. Perhaps there was some form of atmospheric interference.

Despite being a superbly talented warrior and cunning tactician, Sub-Commander El'Myamoto is disliked by his Fire Caste contemporaries for his unconventional tactics and an attitude that borders on insubordination. Although he has earned the right to wear a battlesuit, Darkstrider prefers to fight behind enemy lines with teams of Pathfinders, leading raids behind enemy lines to destroy supply depos and spread terror amongst the foe.

  • Attack Its Weak Point: 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.
  • Cold Sniper: 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.
  • Declining Promotion: Myamoto has been offered positions with both Crisis Teams and Stealth Teams but has always declined the honour, preferring to remain a Pathfinder. Unlike other Fire Warriors who decline promotion because they feel they can serve the Greater Good best in their current position, Darkstrider does so in such a way that it borders on insubordination.
  • Enemy Scan: 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.
  • Military Maverick: 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 Darkstrider's proven stellar success record keeps him in the field.
  • Sergeant Rock: Like a marine Gunnery Sergeant, Fireblades like Darkstrider form an experienced counterpoint to their technically higher-ranking officers.

Longstrike, Terror of T'ros

The greatest tank ace in the T'au Empire, Shas'la T'au Sha'ng exhibited an aptitude for armoured vehicles since his first training session and has since gone on to acquire the highest kill tally in the history of the Fire Caste. Sha'ng earned the title of Longstrike during the T'ros campaign where his poise and ability saw him decimate the Imperial armoured Companies sent against him. He even managed to destroy an Imperial Warhound Titan with an expertly placed headshot. Chosen to trial the experimental XV02 pilot battlesuit, Longstrike has continued to make a name for himself amongst the T'au of the Fire Caste as his kill tally grows ever higher.

  • Almighty Janitor: 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.
  • Boom, Headshot!: 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.
  • Brain/Computer Interface: One of the features of the experimental XV02 Pilot Battlesuit that Sha’ng wears is a neural interface that allows him to become one with his Hammerhead and, with the aid of sophisticated AI and stimulant injectors to increase his reaction time, instantaneously process sensor and markerlight data. The 8th Edition rules represent this by giving Longstrike a bonus when firing at markerlight targeted enemies.
  • Crew of One: Thanks to a combination of skill and his experimental Super Prototype armor, the XV02 Pilot Battlesuit. While most T'au vehicles are theoretically capable of using a single pilot crew, before La'Shang it was generally considered unfeasible.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: 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.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: His signature talent, particularly with the turret of a Hammerhead. See Boom, Headshot!.
  • Mirror Character: To the Imperial Guard's Knight Commander Pask. Both are highly skilled tank aces who won fame by taking out a Titan in a standard-issue tank, and both refuse to move up the chain of command despite their merits already warranting a higher rank.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: During his duel with Pask on Agrellan (in the Mont'Ka campaign book) his force is overwhelmed, outmaneuvered, and surrounded by Pask's larger one. The narrative then cuts away, and when it cuts back he's suddenly appeared behind Pask to snipe him without explanation.
  • Survivor Guilt: 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 True Companions ever since.

Monat Commander O'Kais, the Living Weapon

I have mentally rehearsed every permutation of every conflict against every known foe of the T'au race. Every strike, every manoeuvre, every possible angle or nuance I have analysed and memorised and perfected. In all those things, only one constant – I am alone. I am Monat.

The third student of the legendary Commander Puretide, Kais was a loner who was considered highly odd by his peers. Kais' area of expertise was in the Monat doctrine, a style of warfare that focuses on individual skill and achieving victory with limited resources. As with Pruetide's other most talented students, Krais was placed in cryogenic stasis to preserve the great Commander's legacy for future generations. When he was finally revived, however, it was discovered that a fault in Krais' stasis pod had resulted in him remaining conscious throughout his period of suspended animation, only retaining a loose hold of his sanity by constantly imagining and perfecting his way of war against every enemy ever faced by his kind. Deemed unfit to be a figurehead in the same way his fellow students had been used by the Ethereals, Kais became known in whispered tones as Tha'hasiro — the Living Weapon, to be unleashed only in the direst of circumstances.

For tropes applying to O'Kais in the Dawn of War game, see his entry on that game's Character page

  • Canon Immigrant: He initially appears in Dawn of War — Dark Crusade before being integrated into the main game's background material during 6th Edition.
  • Creepy Monotone: In the present day, Kais speaks in an utterly emotionless tone that even his fellow T'au find unsettling.
  • Cryonics Failure: What turned him into his current characterization: his cryo pod failed in such a way that his mind was not frozen while his body was.
  • The Dreaded: After his ordeal in stasis, Kais is regarded with dread and fear by his fellow T'au, with his tutor Twiceblade noting that he once undertook a solo assault on a Space Marine command post but regards merely talking to Kais as more daunting.
  • Fallen Hero: To some certain degree. Dawn of War in particular depicted Kais as a particularly noble, reasonable sort of commander, willing to offer even his enemies the hand of friendship, but following the cryogenics accident, he has become something so ruthless, cold and brutal that Twiceblade at one point muses that he no longer sees Kais as T'au at all.
  • Godzilla Threshold: It's made apparent that the Ethereals do not regard Kais as a leader or figurehead in the way that Farsight and Shadowsun were, instead treating him as a weapon of last resort against the foes of the Greater Good.
  • I Work Alone: The Monat pattern generally involves such a mindset, but Kais takes it to a whole new level, as evidenced by his quote above.
  • One-Man Army: The Monat doctrine Kais trained in emphasizes the commander making an immense personal contribution to the battle, and his three hundred years of mental training only left him as among the deadliest of the T'au. In the War of Secrets novel, he takes on a Space Marine fortress monastery solo and causes such carnage that the Astartes end up calling down an orbital strike on their own monastery to try and kill him.
  • Red Baron: Those who know of his current state refer to him as Tha'hasiro (the Living Weapon), while his current tutor refers to him as the Monat Supreme.
  • Sanity Slippage: While Kais suggests that his mental combat exercises kept him sane during his three centuries of consciousness, it's evident that he was at least somewhat mentally scarred by it, referring to himself more as a weapon and an instrument than as a person.
  • Shoot the Dog: In his current state, Kais is willing to do anything to fight the enemies of the T'au, even things others of his kind consider unacceptable. In one exchange in the War of Secrets novel, he notably suggests atmospheric poisoning, chemical sterilization of the population and planetary core disruption as potential solutions to the issue of a psychic plague infecting a certain world's gue'vesa.

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 legend amongst the Fire Caste and the hero of the Second Sphere Expansion, Commander Puretide is still considered a strategic genius who was the first warrior to master all aspects of the T'au way of war. After retiring due to wounds sustained while spreading the Greater Good, Puretide became a hermit atop Mount Kan'ji on Dal'yth Prime, recording his vast experience fighting the Empire's foes and teaching the greatest students of the Fire Caste academies, such as Living Legends Commanders Shadowsun and Farsight, everything he knew. Even after his death Puretide continues to spread his teachings, as the scientists of the Earth Caste have created a sophisticated hologram and AI program that perfectly recreate the master strategist.

  • Affectionate Nickname: Puretide used to nickname his students with a blend of their names and their favourite strategies, so O'Shovah was called "Mont'ka-Shoh" for instance.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Enforced by the Ethereals and Earth engineers in the Farsight: Crisis of Faith novel. Although he's old and scarred in reality, the people in charge of creating a Virtual Ghost of him have made the avatar youthful, muscular, and without any imperfection. It supposedly will inspire his future students more, but Farsight is appalled to see his master looking like this.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Puretide retired after receiving a grievous wound and became a hermit.
  • Cool Old Guy: O'Shovah surely thought as much, he was a stern but affectionate teacher to O'Shovah, O'Shaserra and O'Kais. He also did warn O'Shovah about not trusting the Ethereals.
  • Expy: Basically the T'au Sun Tzu, to the point that some of his sayings could have come straight from The Art of War.
  • Four-Star Badass: Puretide's campaigns resulted in the conquest of half a dozen star systems.
  • The Hermit: 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.
  • Hermit Guru: Not only a master of strategy, but also a very spiritual T'au who meditates and has reflected on the spiritual burden of a military leader.
  • Master of All: His grasp of warfare is said to be complete and balanced, from the ultra-offensive Mont'Ka strategy to the counter-defensive Kauyon or even the One-Man Army-like Monat pattern, thus Puretide excelled at applying and teaching any type of strategy. Even his most famous students have specialized in one type of military doctrine to the detriment of the others.
  • The Mentor: He taught Farsight, Shadowsun and Kais.
  • Old Master: In his teaching days, Puretide retired from command and took to teaching strategy to the most promising Commanders sent to him.
  • Posthumous Character: By the 41st Millenium, Puretide is long dead but his influence is still felt among the Fire Caste.
  • Virtual Ghost: 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.

    The Eight of the Farsight Enclaves 
The greatest heroes of the Farsight Enclaves, the Eight consists of Commander Farsight himself and his personal strike team of handpicked, elite warriors who act as the legendary Commander's bodyguards, advisers and comrades in arms.

Commander Farsight, Hero of Vio'la
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 the most lauded hero of the T'au Empire, Shas'o Vior'la Shovah Kais Mont'yr is a mighty warrior, a brilliant tactician, an inspiring leader, and a master of the aggressive Mont'ka style of warfare. Born in the martial Vior'la Sept, O'Shovah was the greatest student of the brilliant Commander Puretide and won many victories against the forces of the Imperium and the Orks, making him the natural choice to lead an expedition to reclaim territories lost to enemies of the Greater Good. A highly aggressive and independent Commander, O'Shovah often clashed with his superiors, and when the Ethereals accompanying his forces were slain on the mysterious world of Arthas Moloch, O'Shovah led his forces beyond the boundaries of the T'au Empire and founded his own, highly militarised realm that has become known as the Farsight Enclaves. While relations between the Empire and the Enclaves remains strained, O'Shovah has led his forces in defence of his former comrades a number of times, including aiding Commander Shadowsun during the battle for Mu'gulath Bay.

  • Admiring the Abomination: Farsight is fascinated by the Orks, as they waged war for its own sake and he too liked to battle.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: There's a reason O'Shovah is called Farsight. He is a genius at analyzing data, seeing weakness in the enemy line, and predicting the best course of action.
  • Badass Boast: Commander Farsight gives us this in the Sixth Edition codex:
    I've seen things you wouldn't believe — entire worlds in flames, chains of supernovas on the edge of nothingness, the great hole in space. I am changed, an outcast now...
  • Base-Breaking Character: In-Universe, there is a lot of debate amongst the T'au about whether or not Commander Farsight really is the closest thing the T'au 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.
  • Big Damn Heroes: 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. 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 Dynamic Entry upon the planet of the same name. Furthermore, he and his enclave's 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.
  • Broken Masquerade: 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.
  • Char Clone: Commander Farsight is a Fallen Hero of the T'au Empire, and The Rival of Commander Shadowsun, the current supreme commander of the Fire Caste's military forces. After discovering the horrors of the galaxy, Farsight left the Empire and now leads a colony of separatists, unencumbered by the hidebound attitudes of the Empire's ruling Ethereals. A highly aggressive military commander, Farsight pilots a first generation Crisis battlesuit that has been painted red in recognition of those who fell during the Arkunasha War, and extensively modified so that it is the equal to all but the most advanced contemporary suits.
  • Close-Range Combatant: Unusually for the T'au, 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 T'au'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.
  • Commander Contrarian: He was originally presented as an isolationist and even xenophobic foil to the mainstream T'au Empire's openness to other races, but as the T'au's fluff has grown Darker and Edgier 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.
  • Cool Sword: 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 T'au are to survive the coming of Chaos to their empire.
  • Defector from Decadence: When he discovered that the Ethereals had been suppressing knowledge and were not being honest with their fellow T'au, he began questioning everything about them. However, since revealing what he knew to those T'au back in the core of the empire could cause the T'au 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 T'au are far too naive or unprepared for to face. The culture he has fostered within the Enclaves is a tremendous departure from that within the Empire. Farsight has mostly abandoned the Fantastic Caste System decreed by the Ethereals for a more libertarian, meritocratic society where one's role is determined by skill and desire, not by birth. While thousands of years of controlled breeding make breaking out of ones old caste a bit difficult, there are still those who do, and finding, for example, former Earth Caste T'au on the frontlines is not a rare occurrence. This, more than his possession of forbidden knowledge, is implied to be why the Ethereals want the Enclaves wiped out so badly.
  • Deflector Shields: Carries a shield generator.
  • Due to the Dead: 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.
  • Fallen Hero: Subverted. The only reason he's exiled himself is because he hasn't forgotten any of his morals, even if he's become rather cynical about them.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • 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.
    • This also applies in a broader sense to all those who live within the Farsight Enclaves, even his alien auxiliaries, and in particular, his Gue'Vesa. While humans who live within the T'au Empire do so largely as Second-Class citizens, with little self-governance beyond small communities on T'au-dominated Septs, Farsight has seen fit to give his Gue'Vesa their very own world within the Enclaves and full citizenship.
  • 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 T'au.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: 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. This has actually evolved over the centuries into a small breakaway Empire, with its own list of Septs and a distinct society.
  • Four-Star Badass: He has consistently proven himself capable of defeating much larger enemy forces. He first rose to prominence during the Arkunasha War, where (according to Farsight: Crisis of Faith) his troops were outnumbered 400 to 1 by the Orks. He proceeded to wipe out 75% of the Ork forces in a single battle.
  • Handicapped Badass: Farsight lost a leg, but since he fights in a battlesuit, it doesn't hinder him at all.
  • The Hermit: After witnessing daemons for the first time, O'Shovah retired in the wilderness to meditate.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: 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 Secret Test of Character.
  • He's Back!: After a period of self-imposed exile, Farsight came back to his people in order to help repel a Tyranid invasion.
  • I Work Alone: 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.
  • Guardian Angel: He and his enclave act like such for the T'au after their "rebellion", much to the shock of Shadowsun.
  • Life Drinker: This one's so secret that no character in-universe is fully aware of it. 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. Considering he's used it to kill Orks (which are biologically immortal) and daemons (which are truly immortal), Farsight's probably got a long time of living ahead of himself. Farsight has his suspicions, but if he were ever aware of the truth he would probably kill long as he didn't use the Dawn Blade itself, as it would likely just restore the lost lifeforce.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Regarding the T'au'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.
  • Nom de Guerre: Farsight, Bane of Greenskins, and many others.
  • The Paragon Always Rebels: Commander Farsight was a hero to the T'au, 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 Meaningful Name. 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 T'au 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. Later subverted — he's not a Fallen Hero at all, and in fact is still a very noble individual. He just doesn't trust the Ethereals.
  • Photographic Memory: Farsight has an exceptional memory, which helped forge his skill as a strategist.
  • Red Is Heroic: Farsight, and by extension his enclave troops, use crimson painting. O'Shovah also happens to be one of the most unambiguously moral T'au of his species.
  • Rogue Agent: Farsight now operates on his own after the death of his Ethereals.
  • Sadist Teacher: Not him, but Farsight unwittingly humiliated his instructors once and since then the entire teaching corp of the Fire Caste has had a mild grudge against him, always giving him the hardest exercices to perform.
  • Satanic Archetype: Heavily subverted. While he is believed to be such by the T'au and he wears red armor, Farsight's motives (protect the T'au from Chaos) are far more benevolent. Due to the Zero-Approval Gambit nature of his "betrayal", Farsight is closer to Dark Knight Trilogy Batman than to a true Satan figure.
  • Ship Tease: There are some flashbacks in the Farsight novella which imply Farsight and Shadowsun had feelings for each other during their training under Puretide.
  • Shout-Out: The world on which he found his sword, which has been suggested to have corrupted him, shares the name of another bitter warrior-prince corrupted by a relic sword and a terrible, corruptive demon-god.
  • Start My Own: Farsight's faction is more in keeping of a traditional 40K army.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Farsight's background material mentions that, despite his preference for close range firefights, the young O'Shovah proved highly skilled at ranged combat, surpassing his battlesuit instructor, Shas'vre Ob'lotai, in range and accuracy within a year of first taking control of a Broadside battlesuit.
  • Teen Genius: O'Shovah already surpassed his instructors as a tactician even before taking arms.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The entire chain of events leading up the formation of the Farsight Enclaves.
    • First, he's made to oversee the creation of the Puretide A.I., a process which is lethal for his old teacher, a fact that was withheld from both participants. Puretide imparts on his pupil a truly disturbing warning right before he dies: do not trust the Ethereals. This greatly disturbs Farsight, who finds himself beginning to question the wisdom of the Ethereals, if not the whole concept of the Greater Good.
    • Then, while battling the Orks, he learns that the Ethereals had withheld his reinforcements, as seen above under A Father to His Men. This cost the lives of many of Farsight's comrades, whose deaths he directly blames his commanders for. Puretide's warning echoes in his mind, and he begins to actively resent the Ethereals.
    • Finally, Arthas Moloch happens, where not only does Farsight learn of the existence of the Forces of Chaos, as well as the Ethereals' efforts to cover it up, but his entire assigned contingent of Ethereals is slaughtered to a man. This irrevocably shatters any remaining illusions Farsight may have had of the Ethereals being benevolent or worthy leaders. While he goes into self-imposed exile to avoid destroying his own people, his followers refuse to leave him, instead founding the Farsight Enclaves around his new ideals.
  • Unperson: The Ethereals tried to erase every mention of him as soon as they learned of the Farsight Enclaves but as a Living Legend, it proved impossible for Farsight to disappear in the hearts of the Fire Caste Warriors.
  • Uriah Gambit: 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.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: Heavily implied in the Farsight Enclave supplement army book that everything he's doing, including the direction of his blockade, is to protect the T'au from the Eye of Terror and thus Chaos, even if it includes being seen as the ultimate traitor.

Commander Bravestorm

One of the T'au Commanders who defended Dal'ryu during the Imperium's retaliatory Crusade, Bravestorm was granted one of the experimental and powerful Onager Gauntlets. Although he took a great toll on the Astra Militarum's armoured companies, Bravestorm was mortally wounded by fire from an Imperial Titan and had to be permanently entombed in a battlesuit specially modified with a built-in life support system. Despite his injuries, Bravestorm retains his quick wits and considerable battle prowess, fearlessly fighting as a member of the Eight with great devotion and fervour.

  • Heroic Sacrifice: 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 T'au Empire's favor. He did 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 at the cost of his life. He noticed a Vindicare Assassin lining up a shot upon Farsight, and quickly moved his own battlesuit in the way, Taking the Bullet for him.
  • Hot-Blooded: No matter how many times he's reduced to a pulp, he's always eager to get back out to the front lines again. If not for his unflinching obedience to orders, he would probably be a Leeroy Jenkins.
  • The Lancer: He's pretty much Farsight's number two.
  • Man in the Machine: Similar to Space Marine Dreadnoughts, Bravestorm cannot leave his Battlesuit due to injuries he sustained in battle.
  • Mighty Glacier: On the tabletop, he seems to evoke a "fast and tough vs slow and powerful" pair with Brightsword. Bravestorm is the most durable of The Eight's Crisis Battlesuits, and is tied for the highest save of The Eight while possessing a unique ability to further ignore wounds. However, while not exactly slower than a typical XV 8, his special weapon - the Onager Gauntlet - gets only one attack per turn and so he does not often get to actually hit with it.
  • Power Fist: One of the first T'au 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.
  • Taking the Bullet: Took a Vindicare Assassin sniper's bullet to protect Farsight, dying in the process.

Honour-Shas'Vre O'Vesa

An elderly Earth Caste scientist, O'Vesa is a genius who has developed numerous technological wonders, including the microdrones that sustain his life far beyond its natural span. O'Vesa has served and supported O'Shovah for many years and is greatly respected by the famous Commander. Despite not being a member of the Fire Caste, O'Vesa pilots a mighty XV104 Riptide battlesuit that he has personally modified with a number of unique systems, including an advanced Piloting Array that allows the ancient scientist to control the battlesuit from behind the front lines.

  • Humongous Mecha: Comes with the territory of piloting a Riptide.
  • Mad Scientist: 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?
  • The Smart Guy: 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 fought alongside Commander Farsight during the Arkunasha War, the conflict where the great leader earned his title. Since then, a succession of Commanders who have fought alongside Farsight have borne the name Brightsword with the current holder, Brightsword VII, being particularly eager to live up to the reputation his illustrious predecessors.

  • Combat Pragmatist: Uses the superheated barrels of his fusion blasters as swords.
  • Fragile Speedster: On the tabletop, Brightsword seems to have this as a theme. Brightsword brings a Target Lock that allows him to advance and shoot at no penalty, and his unique ability - Warscraper Drones - allows him to avoid some enemy charges that would normally reach him. In exchange, he has only the basic armor of a Crisis Commander, lacking the shield generator that Farsight and Bravestorm have, making him one of the more fragile members of The Eight if left exposed. Compared to the typical Warhammer unit, though, he is still very durable
  • Legacy Character: 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 is the last survivor of the Swords of Puretide, the T'au warriors fitted with the prototype neurochips that contained the knowledge and strategies of the legendary Fire Caste Commander. Although initially successful, the prototype chips soon began to degrade and Sha'vastos was only saved from enforced lobotomization because Farsight himself secretly had him placed into suspended animation until the great Earth Caste scientist O'Vesa was able to recalibrate the chip decades later. A talented tactician even before being fitted with the neurochip of the genius Puretide, Sha'vastos has led his warriors to numerous victories, able to predict the enemy’s plans before a shot is fired.

  • Flawed Prototype: Sha'vastos's prototype neurochip caused mental degeneracy and he had to be put in suspended animation until a solution had to be found.
  • Human Popsicle: 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 veteran T'au who trained the young Farsight in the basics of piloting a battlesuit, as well as attempting to instil a measure of restraint into the fiery warrior. While it is kept a secret to the population at large, the Ob'lotai that serves as a member of the Eight is not a living T'au warrior, but an advanced AI engram based on the original Ob'lotai. A talented Broadside pilot in life, the Ob'lotai 9-0 AI has lost none of its living incarnation's skill and provides the Eight with pinpoint fire support.

  • Ace Custom: 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. Out of universe, this was a fairly common model customization.
  • Brain Uploading: 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.
  • Cold Sniper: 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.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Ob'lotai's Broadside battlesuit is equipped solely with missile weaponry, allowing him to unleash almost twenty missile shots under his late 8th Edition, Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good, rules giving him more long ranged firepower than any other member of the Eight.
  • The Mentor: His original self was the one who taught Farsight how to pilot a Battlesuit.
  • Mighty Glacier: The combination of his Broadside Battlesuit and the fact that he is an AI rather than a flesh and blood T'au make Ob'lotai very durable, with a Wound characteristic that is slightly higher than average for the Eight, an ability that reduces the Damage characteristic of any weapon that hits him, and a massive amount of long-range firepower. That said, Ob'lotai has the lowest base Move characteristic amongst the Eight.

Commander Arra'kon

A highly accomplished leader, Shas'o Arra'kon was the high commander of the Farsight Enclave's military forces when O'Shovah returned from his self-imposed isolation but gladly gave up his position to the legendary Commander.

  • Anti-Infantry: Arra'kon specialises in the destruction of enemy foot soldiers, using multiple rapid-fire and fragmentation weaponry to cut a swathe through hordes of infantry.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: Arra'kon is equipped with a Repulsor Impact Field. This experimental device, thought to be the only one in existence, uses reverse-engineered Ork traktor beam technology to create a shock wave of force to devastate enemy forces engaging Arra'kon. The 8th Edition rules represent this with a chance of causing a mortal wound against units attempting to attack Commander Arra'kon in close combat.
  • The Strategist: Commander Arra'kon is a wise and highly experienced military leader who led the Farsight Enclaves for years before O'Shovah's return. As part of the Eight, Arra'kon plans complex firing solutions for his comrades, reviewing holo-vids of past conflicts so that he can improve his battle tactics and hone his own skills.

Subcommander Torchstar

The youngest member of the Eight, Torchstar is nonetheless a highly talented battlesuit pilot. A defector of the T'au Empire, Torchstar is obsessed with fire that leads her to rashly close with her enemies so that she can reduce them to drifting ash.

  • Action Girl: Torchstar pilots a standard XV8 Battlesuit, but has a penchant for using a pair of flamers to erect a wall of impassible flames. Despite her young age, Torchstar has more than earned her place amongst the elite of the Farsight Enclaves and has been responsible for the immolation of countless enemies.
  • Pyromaniac: Torchstar is obsessed with fire and sports a number of flame-patterned tattoos on her body. In battle, the Sub-Commander has gained a reputation for recklessness due to her enthusiasm for getting as close to the enemy as possible so that she can incinerate them with her battlesuit’s twin flamers.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The only female among the Eight.

Allies & Mercenaries

Together we will eat them all!

A humanoid race native to the planet of Pech, the Kroot have been a vassal race of the T'au Empire since the First Sphere Expansion when T'au forces saved their home world from an Ork invasion. Aggressive and highly skilled warriors, the Kroot are the most common alien race to be seen serving as auxiliaries to the Fire Caste's Hunter Cadres, fighting alongside the forces of almost every Sept in the Empire. As well as serving with T'au forces Kroot Hunter Kindreds are known to hire themselves out as mercenaries to almost any race, something they often keep secret from their T'au allies.

The Kroot have an unusual biology that allows them to take on the genetic traits of creatures that they eat. This has led to a number of different Kroot sub-species from Winged Humanoid Kroot Vultures to the sub-intelligent and animalistic Kroot Hounds and Kroothawk.

The Kroot have been available as a unit in the T'au army list since their introduction during 3rd Edition. They also received their own Kroot Mercenary army list for 3rd Edition in White Dwarf and the Chapter Approved Annual 2003 compilation.

  • Alien Hair: 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.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: 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 
  • Ascended Extra: 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 T'au, 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 T'au, 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 role because of how well they contrasted with the T'au.
  • Beast of Battle: 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.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology:
    • Kroot have no dedicated urinal or rectal orifices; 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.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: 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.
  • Blade on a Stick: The Kroot use long rifles with a pair of scythe-like bayonets at either end. The Kroot use these 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.
  • Cannibal Tribe: 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, sapient 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 that makes the Kroot stronger.
  • Challenge Seeker: 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.
  • Close-Range Combatant: Their biggest direct-combat strength, and the primary reason that the T'au employ them. However, they are not so specialized in it to the point of being unable to do anything else, but on the other hand they are only moderately good at it by the standards of other dedicated assault troops. They are relatively fragile due to not wearing armor, but they do use their speed and quick-contracting muscles to rain several hard-hitting blows with the many bayonets on their long Kroot rifles.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: Those Kroot who have repeatedly fed on the flesh of chameleonic creatures often develop similar abilities, allowing them to blend in with their environment. The 3rd Edition Chapter Approved rules for Kroot Mercenary armies represented this with the Chameleon Evolutionary Adaptation that allowed them to take a cover save, even when in the open.
  • Creative Sterility: 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 innate ability to absorb and incorporate genetic information from what (or whom) they eat allowed them to take advantage of the Orkish Genetic Memory 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.
  • Cringe Comedy: 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 T'au 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.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: 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.
  • Double Weapon: The Kroot Rifle has blades incorporated into the barrel and stock in imitation of the traditional fighting staffs used by ancient Kroot warriors.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Though Kroot are a species widely known for eating the dead (or soon to be dead) of sentient species (including their own) there are three major exceptions to this:
    • The Kroot will not eat any Tyranic bio-forms. Some speculate that the Tyranid's capacity for LEGO Genetics 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 T'au were instrumental in helping the Kroot repel the Orks from their homeworld, they are indebted to the T'au Empire and hence give them preferential terms as mercenaries. They like this arrangement and will not stand to see it threatened. Thus, any Kroot who eats the flesh of a T'au is considered to violate a sacred taboo and will earn the ire of the Shapers and potentially be outcast from their Kindreds.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: As mentioned, the Kroot have little in the way of modesty taboos or vulnerable sexual organs to protect. Their Adaptive Ability 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.
  • Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: Among the kroot's bestial offshoots, kroot hounds are essentially alien dogs, krootoxes are alien apes, and knarlocs are alien theropods.
  • Fantastic Racism: Notable averted 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, especially after seeing them eat, is another matter entirely.
  • Feathered Fiend: 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 (regurgitate) their young live.
  • Foil: Games Workshop included the Kroot in the T'au army list because of how their "savage" appearance and fighting style contrasted with the clean, high-tech, Animesque style of the T'au. Their mercenary culture and healthy skepticism for the Greater Good is also a contrast to the T'au. Think of them as the Sancho Panza to the T'au's Don Quixote.
  • Formerly Sapient Species: The Kroot's ability to taste individual parts of the DNA they eat and incorporate them into themselves can, if they continuously eat too much of certain species, risk a permanent regression to a bestial state. Several subspecies have been formed this way, like the vaguely-canine Kroothounds, apelike Krootoxen, and carnosaurid Knarlocs, which are now used as beasts of burden and battle by their kin.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Kroot's sexual organs are the 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.
  • Gender Is No Object: Thanks to having very little sexual dimorphism, Kroot have little in the way of gender role distinction.
  • Giant Corpse World: In the kroot creation myth, Pech was formed from the body of the goddess Vawk after she was fatally injured in a battle with another deity. Knowing that she was dying, she singled out a world central to her plans for creation and spread her wings across it, transforming her bones into mountains and her feathers into forests. With her final breath, she released a vast flock of eagles from which the kroot would one day descend.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: While Kroot have 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 poor proof against modern weapons.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Knarlocs, which are Kroot-derived pack-hunting beasts that walk on two legs and use their short forearms to grasp prey,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.
  • I Gave My Word: Kroot have a reputation as very reliable mercenaries due to their practice of honoring their contracts in full, giving exactly what the contract stipulates, no more and no less. On the other hand, because they hold no particular allegiance, Kroot might find themselves switching sides in a battle should a poorly worded contract expire at just the wrong time and a better offer present itself immediately...
  • I'm a Humanitarian: 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 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 Opponents. Even when a Kroot kindred is in desperate times, 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.
  • Improvised Armour: While Kroot wear little as a rule, they do often find some protection. This is often leather taken from their more robust hunting kills, but since their "prey" also includes things that wear armour and wield weapons of their own the Kroot have no compunctions about adapting other materials into their personal protection. While armor meant for other species will never fit Kroot perfectly, that does not stop them from ripping it apart and incorporating it piecemeal into their own armor. For example, it is not uncommon to see Kroot warriors wearing cast-off bits of Imperial Guard flak armor, or old Fire Warrior hand-me-down pieces.
  • LEGO Genetics: 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 T'au make sure the Kroot don't eat anything 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.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: While the Kroot have some advanced technology, their Creative Sterility tends to land them in a Schizo Tech 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 Cargo Cult 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.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: 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. According to their concept artist, they were designed to resemble Maasai warriors, being lithe and tall. On the tabletop, however, Kroot have the exact same Strength stat as your average human and tend to struggle against most other dedicated melee warriors.
  • Noble Savage:
    • The Kroot are seen as this within the T'au Empire, where the Por'hui media portray them as a race of Proud Warriors 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, as the don't give much care to what others think of them and are happy to just go along with it as long as the T'au 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 T'au's pie-in-the-sky ideals, quite charming once you get to know them. The T'au 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 
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: 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 T'au Empire for the betterment of the Kroot, by giving them opportunities to change, adapt, grow, and survive in a hostile galaxy. The T'au 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.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: 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 Goal-Oriented Evolution. 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.
  • Power Incontinence: A flaw of the Kroot is that their ability to 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 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.
  • Private Military Contractors: 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.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: And just as much entrepreneurs as they are warriors.
  • Psychic Powers: Some high ranked Shapers have been witnessed to manifest minor psychic abilities, such as being able to read minds, produce short lived psychic shields or heal their allies. In the 3rd Edition Chapter Approved 2003 Kroot Mercenaries rules, Master Shapersnote  can be upgraded to a psyker with a randomly generated Minor Psychic Powernote .
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Part of their 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 getting themselves killed did not serve their interests.
  • The Quisling: Anghkor Prok could count for the Kroot, having sworn them into alliance with the T'au and therefore having enough prestige to command T'au troops, though the Kroot don't really mind working for T'au most of the time.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: 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.
  • Schizo Tech: 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 absorbed their Genetic Memory 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 Blade on a Stick, yet it fires very advanced munitions provided to the Kroot by the T'au to give it a deceptively high stopping-power per shot.
  • Sniper Rifle: Recognizing their talent for quiet field craft and taking the enemy by surprise, the T'au sometimes issue 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.
  • Space Amish: 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.
  • Space Orcs: They're a non-villainous take on this, being essentially a species of Noble Savages. They're largely still in the stone age, relying on their T'au allies for technology, and have little ranged weaponry — something their speed, strength and sheer ferocity in melee easily make up for. On their homeworld they live in scattered tribes, hunting the savage beasts that share their planet, and make their living in the wider galaxy as ferocious mercenaries and as auxiliary troops and wilderness scouts in T'au armies. They also eat their foes and their own dead, although the former is a form of tribute as the Kroot absorb traits from other species that they consume, and thus to be eaten by a Kroot means it considered you worthy enough to take into itself to become better. This is played in contrast with the T'au, with the latter's futuristic technology, lofty philosophies and darker underbelly juxtaposing the Kroot's crude tools and huts, direct survival-oriented worldview and frank and honest beliefs.
  • Super Spit: Due to their ancestors feeding on poisonous creatures, Kroot Headhuntersnote  have the ability to spit a highly corrosive venom at their enemy. In game, this special poison attack was made instead of attacking normally and always caused a wound on a roll of 4+.
  • Tribal Facepaint: Though the Kroot owe no special allegiance to particular T'au 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.
  • T. Rexpy: Knarlocs and great knarlocs are offshoots of the kroot, featherless avian aliens who can alter their bodies by absorbing traits from creatures they eat, which have trapped themselves in dead-end paths by overconsuming the meat of bestial predators and thus became stuck as huge, feral animals. They resemble green predatory dinosaurs with muscular legs, short forelimbs, stumpy tails and serrated, bone-crushing beaks, not unlike a tyrannosaur with the head of a flesh-eating parrot. Common knarlocs are only about large enough for kroot to ride, but great knarlocs reach the sizes of the larger theropods and are the alpha predators of the jungles of the kroot homeworld.
  • Troll: The Kroot sense of humor revolves heavily around leading others into profoundly uncomfortable situations and/or deliberately acting in a disgusting and repulsive manner, then watching their reactions.
  • Winged Humanoid: Kroot who consume the flesh of winged creatures often develop wings of their own and group together into specialist Vulture Kindreds. Although they tend not to be strong enough for full flight, the wings of a Kroot Vulture allow them to glide and make use of strong updrafts to move in a manner similar to the Jump Pack equipped troops of other races.
  • Xeno Nucleic Acid: The Kroot are able to identify useful genetic codes in their prey, and the Shapers direct their kin as to what they can and cannot eat and rewrite their DNA for whatever evolutionary purpose is needed (and have a Berserk Button towards genestealers, who also mess around with genes). Kroot that eat too much of a certain species become locked in a non-sentient evolution (such as the apelike Krootoxen, Kroothounds, and the T Rex in all but name Knarlocs). It's believed the greenish tint and gunsmithing ability of Pech kroots came from their defeating and eating an ork invasion.


A winged, insectoid race that evolved on the Floating Continents of a gas giant, the Vespid have a highly structured and deferential society that has proven highly compatible with the T'au concept of the Greater Good. Despite initial problems with communication, the Vespid officially became a part of the T'au Empire in the early stages of the Second Sphere Expansion after translation devices were built to breach the language barrier and have received a level of acceptance amongst their allies that even the Kroot have been unable to achieve. The Vespid readily provide auxiliaries for the T'au military, using their speed and mobility to support Pathfinder teams, or to fight alongside quick moving Crisis Teams.

  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The neutron blasters carried by the Vespid are said to be capable of ignoring all but the thickest of armor to destroy the organic material or critical circuitry beneath. In the 8th Edition of the game, this is represented by the neutron blaster having an above average Armour Penetration value compared to other basic weapons.
  • Bee People: Multiple eyes, hive-based society, insectoid chitin-covered body with bee-like wings...
  • Insectoid Aliens: Their exoskeletons, membranous wings, and hive structure gives it away.
  • Meaningful Name: The race's is name is a reference to "vespa", the genus of hornets and wasps.
  • Named After Their Planet: The Vespids originate from the planet Vespid.
  • Power Crystal: 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.
  • Starfish Language: 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 T'au and worn by strain leaders. The Vespid joined the T'au 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...
  • True Companions: Unlike the Kroot, the Vespid genuinely believe in the Greater Good and want to find their place in it. So we're told, anyway. The exact details remain unclear.
  • World in the Sky: Their homeworld is a gas giant which has many Floating Continents, kept aloft in thin band of pressure difference and due to the strange properties of 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 T'au managed their communication breakthrough.



The Demiurg are a technologically advanced race of short, semi-humanoid Asteroid Miners and mercenaries, who are willing to work with alien cultures but tend to avoid contact with the Imperium. While the original Demiurg home world is unknown, scattered reports from Rogue Traders seem to indicate that the race is at least semi-nomadic, with each individual capital ship being the base for a single Brotherhood of Demiurg. While the exact relationship between the Demiurg and the T'au Empire is a mystery, they are known to be involved in trade with the T'au and their ships have been sighted accompanying T'au fleets in the area of the Damocles Gulf.

  • Asteroid Miners: For the most part they spend their time plying the stars and mining out asteroid belts for precious minerals.
  • Higher-Tech Species: 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 T'au.
  • Meaningful Name: "Demiurg" comes from the Ancient Greek word demiourgos, meaning "artisan".
  • Mighty Glacier: Demiurg mining ships are armed with powerful mining lasers, but they're rather slow.
  • Mobile Factory: Their Stronghold-class ships are massive vessels, slow but well defended with 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.
  • Our Dwarves Are Different: They're short and stocky, relatively technologically advanced, and they dig through asteroids to mine out minerals.
  • Private Military Contractors: The Demiurg often act as mercenary forces for other races, especially those under threat from Ork raids. The Gaiden Game Battlefleet Gothic represent this in-game by allowing any fleet, except Orks, Tyranids and Necrons, to hire Demiurg cruisers as mercenaries. Due to their lack of investment in the battle however, these mercenary ships will attempt to disengage from combat should they suffer too much damage.
  • Proud Merchant Race Guy: They're expert traders as well as miners.
  • Ram Scoop: Demiurg capital ships are equipped with electromagnetic force fields around their prows that are designed to scoop up interstellar hydrogen that is then used to power their engines. This effect can also be reversed to produce a powerful, if short ranged, cutting beam that the Demiurg use for mining operations, as well as to cut up enemy ships.
  • Shout-Out: The T'au word for the Demiurg is "Bentu'sin" (meaning "wise-gifted ones"). This is very similar to the Bentusi of the 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 Dawn of War and Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, 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.
  • Space Nomads: All known Demiurg live exclusively in their starships, moving from system to system in search of trade and of mineral-rich asteroids. It’s thought they don’t even have a homeworld. In a downplaying of the trope, they do colonize planets if there’s good enough mining to be worth the effort.


Tentacled beings from the planet Adummin, the galgs spent most of their history living in underground palaces known as suoms. This period lasted until they were contacted by the T'au Empire, which generously uplifted them from a life wasted on simple pleasures and idle idylls and gave them the chance to aid in its crusade to unify and civilize the galaxy.

  • Hired Guns: They're not part of the T'au Empire proper, but form mercenary bands who sell their services to highest bidder. Which, more often than not, is the T'au Empire.
  • Starfish Language: Galgs do not possess mouths and thus can't speak the languages of most other species. Instead, they communicate through noises made through the motions of their tentacles. Other aliens are generally likewise unable to speak the galgs' language, although kroot can produce a passable imitation by shaking the spines on their heads.

Gue'vesa (trans. "Human Helpers")

Those humans that accept a place within the T'au Empire, whether they are mercenaries, pro-T'au defectors or the populations of conquered Imperial worlds, will often provide auxiliary troops to fight for the Greater Good alongside the Hunter Cadres of the Fire Caste. Making use of T'au technology, the Gue'vesa have gained some respect from their Fire Caste colleagues for their discipline and bravery. The humans who serve alongside the T'au will often fight particularly hard against the forces of their former masters, as they are well aware that they are considered to be traitors of the worst sort and that there is no chance of reconciliation with the Imperium.

  • Alien Hair: Some Gue'vesa shave their heads down to a single lock at the back of the head to resemble T'au hair.
  • Berserk Button: They're this for Imperium forces. Imperial Guard, Space Marine and Sisters of Battle units get a bonus in close combat against them.
  • Better Living Through Evil: Among Imperials, most defectors usually do so less because they believe in the T'au'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 T'au culture.
  • Category Traitor: 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 T'au 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.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Humans who fight for the T'au Empire for various reasons.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Sometimes those humans who convert to the Greater Good do so fanatically, though this is not true of all of them.
  • Melting-Pot Nomenclature: In an Aerith and Bob kind of way. Gue'vesa who have lived under the T'au Empire for generations might adopt some T'au names, mixed in with their Imperial ones. For example, they might have a T'au 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 T'au.
  • Palette Swap: There have never been any official models released depicting Gue'vessa, so players who want to include them typically do so by kitbashing Astra Militarum and T'au pieces together (i.e. Guardsmen heads and limbs with Fire Warrior torsos to suggest humans wearing T'au-made armour.) Since rules for Gue'vessa tend to come and go with editions and how "official" those rules are is debatable, a lot of players who want an all-Gue'vessa force do so using creative interpretations of Astra Militarum rules.
  • You Are the Translated Foreign Word: In T'au style, "gue'vesa" is something that gets prefixed to a human's personal name when they accept the Greater Good. In T'au, it literally means "human helper".
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The T'au believe that anyone has a right to choose to join the Greater Good (even if circumstances force that choice, even if the T'au themselves brought about those circumstances). Thus, they consider human-populated worlds who try to align with the T'au to be their worlds by right of will of their people, their Gue'vesa population already part of the T'au Empire (and entitled to T'au 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. Of course, this all gets flipped onto its head the moment a planetary population tries to rebel against the T'au and rejoin the Imperium, as the T'au do their best to crush and sterilize the traitorous rebels while the Imperium decrees the humans must be returned to the fold.



The Nicassar are a nomadic race who encountered the T’au early in their expansion and were one of the first alien species to join the Empire. Although they possess advanced psychic abilities, their biology makes it difficult to operate on planetary surfaces, so they serve the Greater Good by providing ships for the Kor'vattra, the T'au Fleet, where their nomadic lifestyle makes them perfectly suited to scouting roles.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: With their nomadic nature and their ships known as Dhows, the Nicassar are comparable to Arabs and/or Bedouin.
  • Psychic Powers: Nicassar are highly adept psykers with their starships being powered by the psychic might of its captain. The T'au go to great lengths to hide the Nicassar’s psychic abilities from the Imperium due to their hostile attitude towards such powers.
  • Sleeper Starship: Nicassar Dhows are primarily sleeper ships, each containing a hibernating extended family of Nicassar as they slowly travel across the gulfs of interstellar space.
  • Space Nomads: The Nicassar are a semi-nomadic race driven by an insatiable need to explore travel and explore. This trait makes the Nicassar ideally suited to work as explorers and scouts for the T'au Empire.
  • Ursine Aliens: Although there is no official art of them, one Games Workshop author described the Nicassar as looking like "flat polar bears".


  • Plant People: Not much is known about them apart from the fact that they're plant-based.


  • Berserk Button: Humans. The Imperium, following standard procedure, virus-bombed the Tarellian homeworlds and nearly pushed the race to the brink of extinction. The Tarellians have not forgotten this.
  • Fantastic Racism: They hate humans with an unbridled passion.
  • Lizard Folk: Also called "dog soldiers" due to their snouts. They are like buffed-up Kobolds.
  • Hired Guns: They are not part of the T'au Empire (and have little nationalistic affiliation anyway,) but the T'au often hire their services.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Proud Mercenary Race Guy, to be exact.

A good warrior strikes fast, but retreats faster.