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How would you explain a Tau army that wasn't Tau?
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Old 08 Aug 2006, 17:37   #1 (permalink)
Kroot Warrior
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Default How would you explain a Tau army that wasn't Tau?

Hi, it's me again with yet more silly questions.

So, as many of you know (And more will know after I tell you what I'm about to say), I came into possession of a Tau force not long ago. It's pretty sizable, and I think it's only about 3 Hammerheads and 2 Piranha short of a good Mech/Hybrid Tau force. It will undoubtedly perform great on the tabletop, the models will look good, everything seems wonderful.

...Except I can't get into the army.

I just can't get into the Tau, being the blue-skinned fishheaded gits that they are. I've been trying to find a way around this, but it has proven more and more difficult. Originally I thought of playing an Imperial Guard army that had joined the Tau and had proven themselves so well that they had been given all the Tau technology that any Firewarrior cadre would have, but the reception of the idea was not the most excited. A lot of people agreed it would look nice for converting and painting, but it would not be very accurate fluff-wise and would have to be relegated to being a display army. Well, I don't want a display army, I want something I can put on the table and play.

The Greater Good fluff is cool, the weapons and models are cool (If you ignore the ugly goat legs), but I just don't like the alien look of them. Yes, yes, I know they're in suits and you can't see under them, but in the back of my mind I always know that the Firewarrior I'm looking at is a flat-faced, blue-skinned alien, and it's not something I can get excited about. Fluff and creativity is as important to me as how the army performs on the table, and sadly if I can't get into writing about the army I can't really get into playing the army. If I can't find some solution for my dilemma, I fear I may have to return the army, or sell it to someone else.

Does anyone have any ideas as to how I could use the Tau Codex to represent some other force? Something more human-like? I've knocked ideas around my head for a week and haven't come up with anything that would fit well into the 40K universe. I'd really hate to give this army up, again, I like the way it plays on the tabletop (More like a modern-day army with its mobility and firepower), I like the way the suits look, I like the diplomatic feel of the Greater Good. I would just love it if I could somehow fluff the army out in a different way, as I said, I find it extremely hard to get into the Tau race for some reason.

Can anyone help me?
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Old 08 Aug 2006, 18:21   #2 (permalink)
Kroot Warrior
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Default Re: How would you explain a Tau army that wasn't Tau?

It depends on how much converting you are willing to do, both philosophically and on figures...

Some mixing of the Forge World Elysian heads and lower bodies with the Tau Fire Warriors sprues would give you a lovely force of Tau Human Auxiliaries who, through proving themselves on the battlefield, had received a high proportion of Tau equipment. There are quite a few humans in the Tau empire, although I notice that the Vas'Gue'la have vanished from the army list again... (I have a whole VGL army played on the IG list).

I found that my initial resistance to the "look" of the Tau was overcome by my wife's love of goats (which, to be honest, I didn't initially share) and my enthusiasm for a race that treated technology as technology rather than some kind of crystal gazing new-age religion. The figures themselves have wonderful movement and good sculpting (I leave aside some of the more recent stuff) and the FWs are hard not to love.

Winning games also adds to the attraction. I have an IG army that I love to play, but it never gives me the pure satisfaction of the Tau. I sold my 12K of Eldar when the Tau bug bit (in fact, I traded them for more Tau) because I found I'd rather play weed-eating goats than flower-eating elves...

But as a last sally (in all seriousness) I dislike the new Vespid figures as much as you dislike the Tau, and for the same fluff reasons, so I'm going to sculpt my own, using nothing from the GW version but the guns. With nothing but green stuff and some resolve, you could do every bare-headed figure with a leonine (or even canine) nose. With only a tiny conversion and some paint, they can be Kzin-Tau or Dog face Tau or what have you. If this sounds too hard for a normal gamer, I'll bet you a donut that you can make Kzin-Tau in a few hours... practice with wax until you have the shape you like, and then go for the green stuff.

I hope this helps.


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Old 08 Aug 2006, 19:08   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: How would you explain a Tau army that wasn't Tau?

It's difficult to get the feel for an alien culture. it makes it difficult to relate to a race other than human being, simply because they appear so alien. The initial judgement that "this being looks nothing like me, therefore must be nothing like me", can interfere with the believability of the fluff. After all, if they fluff is written in too alien a manner, then it becomes difficult for us to relate to, sometimes even incomprehensible. If it is too similar to our own culture, the fluff feels out of place, since we expect something totally different from our day to day experience.

If you want to actually get into the tau, understanding their psyche is important. After all, if you do not understand what motivates them, then you can not appreciate their values, and therefore lack the will to fight for them. Even an IG traitor army, outfitted by the tau, would have to believe in the Aun and "The Greater Good". If they didn't, they would lack the spirit and will to fight for their beliefs, and the tau would see this and not trust them with their powerful technology.

So even if you were to convert an entire force of IG to tau weapons, you would still need to understand, as a commander, what your are fighting for.

So what motivates the Tau? Is he like you and me or are his motives more alien, even sinister?

Well, at first glance the tau appear to be a tolerant race compared to the rest of the 40K universe. They are full of youthfullness as a race and have a strong feeling of destiny. They have an almost overdeveloped sense of honor. They have been portrayed as Samurai and Knights. But they are also diplomats of the highest degree, brilliant scientists, and dedicated warriors. They have space faring capacity and a fleet whose pilots are literally bred for the job. So they have many diverse talents and skills.

Where does this desire to be better and this energy come from? The Ethereals. It has been speculated that the ethereal caste release some form of latent pheromonal control over other members of their race. Others postulate it is psychic in nature but recent findings have all but ruled this out. Whatever the mechanism, the Ethereal caste causes an almost Euphoric sense of well being over other members of their race. This relaxed state of mind is perfect for the Aun to then make "suggestions" to the eager tau under his/her influence. Thus the Ethereals have been the ruling class for thousands of years ever since they arrived on the scene. Their arrival is shrouded in mystery and legend, but they all preach and seem to adhere to "The Greater Good". This is almost a religion in the way the 4 other casts regard it. The Ethereals serve the functions of bot a leader and a priest. This puts them at near deity status in the Tau mind, and allows the tau race to flourish as their leadership has proven most wise.

Other races work for the tau for many reasons, first they are assisted by the Tau as in the case of the kroot.

Often, the tau will take POW's and offer them the choice of life in prison or to join the Tau empire and contribute to the greater good. Many IG units initally serve thinking to return to the Imperium and then find that they like there new position in the tau empire. Here they are accorded with respect and assistance and all they have to do is contribute to the greater good. The tau are not stingy with their technology and are known to freely upgrade an allies tech level. In exchange they only ask service in one of four castes. Many aliens join the fire caste as their skills are much needed there. But other castes are not barred to the talented alien who would serve the greater good.

There you go I hope this helps you to understand our fluff a little better, if you like a darker twist, you can always imagine there are shady dealings in the council of ethereals.

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Old 08 Aug 2006, 19:53   #4 (permalink)
Kroot Warrior
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Default Re: How would you explain a Tau army that wasn't Tau?

I was told the Tau are fairly stingy with their technology when it comes to their allies; in the case of Kroot they are only given ammunition, in the case of Gue'vesa (I think that's the term?) the whole squad is only allowed one or two pulse rifles and some EMP grenades. But this is not what I was really wanting; I had wanted a force that was equipped exactly the same way as Tau only they would be humans wearing the suits instead of the Tau themselves. They would play by Tau rules in the Tau Codex and use Tau units, but they would be humans. I was actually pretty excited in the beginning as I imagined playing my army on Medusa V to have my force helping to evacuate the human populace off the planet, working to route Chaos and Ork attacks in addition to fighting to keep attention off the research facilities of the Earth Caste. The very notion of such traitorous Guard in the Tau employ would even be a great use to distracting the Imperial forces from the front line to have some detachments sent to bring these Traitors to the Emperor's justice.

But, what I heard in response was that there was no way the Tau would part with that much of their technology to non-Tau. I would pretty much have to play an Imperial Guard army and say they were allied with Tau, or play with a lot of Human Auxilliaries, neither of which was what I wanted to do. I'm not so much worried about the conversions right now (That can come later when I have the supplies to do so), right now I'm more worried about being able to get into writing about the army. Modelling and winning victories helps me keep inspired, but if I can't get into writing their fluff then I'll never really be able to get started.

As I said, I like the spirit of the Greater Good, I just can't get past the alien nature of the Tau themselves. Hence my predicament.
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Old 08 Aug 2006, 22:08   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: How would you explain a Tau army that wasn't Tau?

Convert the entire army into a Human auxiliary army that will solve your problem. Its that easy.
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Old 09 Aug 2006, 01:15   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: How would you explain a Tau army that wasn't Tau?

Human heads'll probably do it for you. Personally I've no issue with the tau looks. Matter of fact if the 'nids had the tau mindset I'd probably play them too.

But I know how you feel; I couldn't stand trying out the eldar/dark-eldar because of those giant spiky or hairy cone-hats they all wear. might as well be waving "over here! aim at base of this for much death!" or announcing their arrival.

So if its the looks that bother you, just think of this: Most likely, a sept with humans that have been in there for more than just a generation or so (you don't give shiny new techs to people who think praying to their grenades'll keep'em maintained; that's how plasma cannons 'get hot' in the first place!) would, if they wanted to join the Shas, go through the same training, indoctrination and get the same equipment.

So swap the heads, put in a few gloveless human hands (different finger count), and you'll be able to stand the sight of'em, while also enjoying everything else about'em.
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Old 09 Aug 2006, 01:53   #7 (permalink)
Kroot Shaper
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Default Re: How would you explain a Tau army that wasn't Tau?

It doesn't really bother me how they look i just like Tau for the strategic method of how the army functions. Being for the greater good is a bonus as i like playing Good armies as opposed to Evil ones.
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Old 09 Aug 2006, 02:12   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: How would you explain a Tau army that wasn't Tau?

here is a suggestion, why not incorperate humans in with your firewarrior squads? 50/50 or somthing sounds like a good idea to me. i don't think anyone will say anything
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Old 09 Aug 2006, 02:22   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: How would you explain a Tau army that wasn't Tau?

As far as I understand, Tau aren't stingy with their technology so much as with their resources. It's not that they won't teach Gue'Vesa how to make Pulse weaponry, just that they won't outfit each and every human with one. Same thing with the Kroot: they work to advance the society technologically, but they won't outfit the entire race.

The Vespid are a good example. They carry a gun that was designed by the Tau, that only they can use. The Tau have no issue with sharing technology with those who accept the Greater Good, they just can't spare the resources to outfit the billions of non-Tau who are part of it. This is the same reason suits aren't omni-present in the army: they can't afford to equip every Fire Warrior with one.

Fluff-wise, you could have your army be from an Imperial colony that was taken by the Tau, and the humans had "gone native." Completely adopting the Tau society as their own. So they produce their own weapons, and train their own soldiers, all under the guidance and advice of the Tau. That Tau would be thrilled with such a productive colony.
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Old 09 Aug 2006, 02:32   #10 (permalink)
Kroot Shaper
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Default Re: How would you explain a Tau army that wasn't Tau?

I think your original idea--humans using Tau gear--is sweet as you're going to get here. Unless you're personally so concerned about the 'un-fluffiness' of your force (which you really shouldn't be--the galaxy is a big place and I have few doubts that there's stuff kicking around other people don't know about, which is where new ideas come from)., I would do it. If your opponent says something, just let him know that's how you like your army and you really don't need to justify anything but game mechanics to him or her. If the person gets so huffy about it they won't play you, you probably wouldn't have enjoyed yourself much anyway...

As for justification, it's my understanding warp storms can do some pretty jazzy/horrific stuff. It's it possible a warp anomaly teleported a Tau detachment to some distant corner of the galaxy, to a world forsaken during the Age of Strife by the humans and forgotten? When the Tau land there to rest, gather supplies, etc., the humans with a primitive culture look to them for guidance. The Tau, unlikely to take advantage of them posing as gods and what have you, accept them into the Greater Good and teach them about the cosmos, science, etc.

Over time, the Tau population that was with the fleet begins to die--and news of the Tau Empire expanding spreads to the populace. Maybe the remaining Tau--even just one old-glory Crisis commander, or particularly inspiring Ethereal--moulds the humans into a Tau army and uses them as his new force on some kind of quest to return to Tau space through a hostile galaxy?

I think that would be pretty sweet fluff.
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