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Polaria
15-07-2010, 16:48
The Tau Codex seems frightfully short of fluff on what kind of species Tau are physically. We know they (at least fire ones) have hooves and their skin is blue. And... Well, thats pretty much it. I would like to ask if anyone has spotted information from some other sources...

What is the extend of sexual dimorphism? (How different males are from females)

How big are the physiological differences between castes?

What do the other castes (except fire) actually look like anyway?

Green-is-best
15-07-2010, 16:55
The Tau Codex seems frightfully short of fluff on what kind of species Tau are physically. We know they (at least fire ones) have hooves and their skin is blue. And... Well, thats pretty much it. I would like to ask if anyone has spotted information from some other sources...

What is the extend of sexual dimorphism? (How different males are from females)

How big are the physiological differences between castes?

What do the other castes (except fire) actually look like anyway?

There's a drawing in the 3rd edition codex that shows all 5 castes.

Drakcore Bloodtear
15-07-2010, 17:48
Arn't they around 5ft (Although it varies between caste, 'air' especially)?

And yes, the current Codex show all caste members (It's always fun to guess which ones which)

spetswalshe
15-07-2010, 17:55
The female Commander Shadowsun model has a Y shaped 'face slit', which suggests that's the main secondary sexual attribute. The other castes look quite similar to the Fire caste; Earth might be a bit more muscular and Water is a little taller. The Air caste has FW models; they're basically just a stretched-out Fire caste, with elongated limbs and a much skinnier torso.

DoombringerATT
15-07-2010, 19:02
What is the extend of sexual dimorphism? (How different males are from females)

The only obvious sexual dimorphism is the Y-shaped nasal slit, vice the Male's I-shaped nasal slit.

Xenology has an illustration of a dissected female Ethereal, which looks rather skinny and lithe in comparison to other Ethereals we've seen (Aun'shi, Aun'va's bodyguards, etc.), but it is unclear if this is sexual dimorphism at work or simply the fact that this Ethereal has been in an Ordo Xenos prison for 7 years...

Other than that, Tau reproductive organs are said to be "human analogous", meaning they probably look and work roughly the same.


How big are the physiological differences between castes

The other Castes do not have many notable physiological differences (in internal organs and structure, at least).

The Shas are said to be far stronger than the other Castes, while the Kor's elongated bodies are able to better naturally handle the stress of large G-forces in aerial combat than their human counterparts.

The only other physiological difference between the Castes would be the presence of the Ethereal's diamon-shaped ridge of bone that protrudes from their own nasal slit.

This bone ridge is loaded with liquid pheromones, which periodically release into the air with bursts of tiny pheromone particles. These pheromones, in practice (Fire Warrior), are said to have a calming and focusing effect on other Tau, making them more receptive to suggestion, but hardly turn the recipient into a mindless zombie either.


What do the other castes (except fire) actually look like anyway?

As others have stated, the illustration of the four Castes in the Tau Empire Codex (pg. 23) is the best we have to compare with other Fire Caste illustrations. There's no guessing involved, it's actually rather easy to tell which are which, from what they're wearing and the Caste symbols on their clothing.

From left to right, there are two Por ambassadors present (signified by the presence of their disc-shaped pol hats), a Fio in the back, a Kor with his bulbous helm in the front, a hologram of a Fire Warrior, and an Ethereal to the far right.

The Por seem to be of moderate height (likely just a little bit shorter than a Shas), and thin. Fire Warrior mentions that the Por have softer features than the Shas, making them overtly appear more peaceful and gentle.

The Fio are short and stout, seeming to stand about a head shorter than the Shas. They are not averse to bionics, and they are of prodigious strength, and appear to have broad shoulders, barrel chests, and quite muscular (pg. 22 and 8-9).

The Kor are tall and wiry, standing head and shoulders about the Shas. They have thin, elongated heads and limbs, and seem to be rather fragile when operating in a gravity well, unable to stay planetside for any long period of time without some technological assistance. As stated above, their bodies are ideally suited to aerial combat as depicted in Tactica Aeronautica.

The Shas are our 'baseline' Tau. Roughly the size and strength of an Imperial Guardsman, standing just a little shorter, but not by much. They are the strongest of the Castes, and are quite muscular. After seeing those Fio on pgs. 8-9 hefting those cylinders around, that's pretty impressive.

Finally, the Aun are about the height of a Shas, but not quite as muscular on average. They have the soft features of the Por, and some have the musculature of a Fio or Shas (Aun'shi, Aun'va's bodyguards). They seem to be a nice 'blend' of the five castes, if that helps picture them any.

In regard to the '5 feet tall' comment, I'd imagine that is the broad range of Fio and Por (which are admittedly the most populous Tau in the Empire). Shas are described as roughly the same size as Imperial Guardsmen, so an average of 5'6-5'9 seems about right.

Hope this helps.

Drakcore Bloodtear
15-07-2010, 20:31
Theres an Inquisitor scale Water caste dipolmat, infact each cast (except Earth, I think) has a model, of sorts

ForgottenLore
15-07-2010, 22:48
This bone ridge is loaded with liquid pheromones,

RUMORED pheremones.

Reliable canon has never conclusively established that idiotic theory.

DoombringerATT
16-07-2010, 01:09
No, ForgottenLore, not rumored.

The pheromones exist. This is not up for debate.

What purpose the pheromones serve is what is up for debate.

Xenology

Read Xenology. They dissected a female Ethereal.


DETAIL: Unknown 'diamond-organ'. In the forehead of the Tau Ethereal. Ridged carapace contains ultradense chemo/hormonal fluids (overpowering scent). Rear ganglia connects to the cerebral lobe. Polyp-structures vaguely reminiscent of 'pheromone' glands amongst Terran invertebrates (cf. silk worm). (Spec: Perhaps a pheromonal communication system? The sensitivity of Tau olfactory senses would certainly support a process of airborne chemical 'signifiers'. Perhaps the Ethereal asserts a measure of control over the lesser castes? Results are inconclusive, and the purpose of this organ remains unknown.)

Soon after, they dissected a Q'orl, an insectoid race that communicates thoughts, feelings, and dominance using pheromones.


VOCAL-RECORDING FILE
MAGOS BIOLOGIS DARVUS: [...]

I pulled a strange diamond shaped organ from the chemical stacks on the Q'orl's back. One on each side; all connected to its brain. I-is this where my blood would have ended, if I'd let the treasure live? Mixed into a pheromone-paste, sprayed in the air like incense? What a thing to see! [...]

This organ, this bony little pheromone-thing. I've seen its kind before. This very week - pulled piecemeal from another of my slaughtered pets. There. Let that coincidence be my offering to the bastard-Inquisitor. Let him make of it what he will. [...]

'Look how far apart they are!' he was shrieking, waving his starcharts. 'It makes sense. They've never met. They've never realized the connection...'

The first quote conclusively ends the debate about the existence of pheromones inside the Ethereals' bone-ridge.

The second provides us with a link between the Tau Empire and the Q'orl Swarmhood - the exact same pheromone-organ, down to its shape, structure, and connection to the brain.

Continue reading the text, and you'll come to learn that a few thousand years back, the Eldar (likely Harlequins, thanks to their mastery of the webway) popped out of the webway right in the middle of a Q'orl nest and kidnapped one of their Queens for unknown purposes... This happened at roughly the same time as the Ethereals appearing on T'au.

Coincidence? Possibly. But read on.

Fire Warrior

Next up is Fire Warrior, where we have evidence of the sway an Ethereal holds over another Tau in practice.


"Shas'la..." a voice said, shakily. "Sh... Shas..."

It was a ray of light stammering on the serenity of its own works. It was a dreamscent, whispering past his senses, a pheromone medley of spice and fruit. It was a song without a chorus, a breathless celebration of melody and rhythm, stained by a taint of discordant pain.

Kais twisted his head without thinking, unable to control his mind, finding his gaze filled by Aun'el T'au Ko'vash. The torture device had ascended into the shadows, leaving blotched burns and scratches across the ethereal's pate. Weak and frail, shaking from the bone-pitted wound above his nasal orifice, the Aun raised his head defiantly and fixed Kais with a stare of pure peace. It filled his mind, overriding every sense in a rush of inexorable calmness. It waved away the smoke and the pain, it washed clean the blood in his brain and assuaged his racing thoughts. He was a puppet to it: an empty vessel given awareness of itsown hollowness and somehow, against every expectation, glad of it.

If I am nothing as an individual, his mind said, then let me be content with my place in a higher order.

And he was.

In that instant, in that surreal moment of exposure to the ancient wisdom of the Aun, Shas'la T'au Kais was a functioning, satisfied piece of the machine.

While the mention of the "pheromone dreamscent" is admittedly used metaphorically in the text, the feeling of awareness and calm inflicted upon Shas'la Kais by Aun'el Ko'vash is unmistakable.

I'm not advocating that the 'dreamscent', as it is called, actually serves a purpose of mind-control. Such a possibility is effectively useless anyway, given the Ethereals' rarity in the Empire and the prevalence of other, much more effective forms of indoctrination and maintenance of order in the Empire.

Regardless, what power the Aun do have is evidenced clearly. La'Kais is gifted with a clarity of mind, calmness, and awareness of his place within the Tau'va by the Aun's presence.

Now, I'm not a mathematician, but I think those are good odds that there is a connection, especially considering what happened at Fio'taun in the Tau's ancient past.

---

Question of Intent and Utility

Care to name any of your own sources refuting these connections?

Or are two Black Library publications and the suggestions in the Codex simply not "reliable" to you?

I personally think so many people are averse to the idea of the pheromones because they immediately draw something sinister out of them.

The pheromones don't have to be sinister. They are simply another tool in the Ethereals' kit, and may not even be consciously controlled. The pheromones make any Tau within nose-shot instantly receptive and aware of what the Ethereals mean when they speak of the Tau'va.

Once again, this isn't a primary means of exerting control, especially not anymore now that the Empire encompasses over a hundred and twenty-five colonized worlds and likely hundreds, if not thousands of fleets out in space - not all of which have an Ethereal presence.

Pheromonal "control" has long since outlived its usefulness in an interstellar Empire. It served the purpose it was likely intended to serve: uniting the Tau under one banner without question. Nowadays, it's likely a secondary means of exerting control, right behind the lifelong teachings in the tenets of the Tau'va, psychotherapeutic indoctrination, and the lingering fear in Tau society.

The fear of returning to the Mont'au, and the racial guilt felt for what happened in the Tau's ancient past, when they nearly drove themselves to extinction. This, to me, is a far greater method of establishing and maintaining order in a modern Empire than some infinitesimally small quantities of pheromones drifting in the wind...

Shinzui
16-07-2010, 01:55
I always have a reserve for Xenology. It contains several inconsistencies pretty much present in all Black Library material though its that much harder to accept when it was sold as a 'background book'.

DoombringerATT
16-07-2010, 02:02
Inconsistencies?

Such as?

As far as I am aware, Xenology contains certain inconsistencies because it also revitalized the supposedly defunct Star Child theories, or at least lent some kind of credence to their claims.

The illustrations themselves are also somewhat in question (especially in regard to the female Ethereal's feet), but these are never mentioned in the text itself, which is what we're covering here. In fact, the text itself says that Tau seem to have descended from even-toed ungulates, which covers a broad range of foot-types, from the cloven hooves we know from the models to the hooved toes depicted in the illustration. Simple bout of author-artist miscommunication, and it doesn't make a significant impact on the background itself anyway.

Any specifics you can provide would be helpful.

And Xenology aside, there's still Fire Warrior's firsthand account of the effect Ethereals have on other Tau, and Codex: Tau Empire's account of Fio'taun is unsettling. Remember, it was the Codex itself that suggested pheromones as a possible reason the Tau have unswerving obedience to the Aun.

All of Xenology's other content aside, it's still confirming a theory initially put forth by a Codex.

Hellebore
16-07-2010, 02:03
There was an Index Xenos on the Tau a few years ago. I can't remember all of it, but it does mention the tau eye. It sees in a wider range of light spectra (into UV iirc) but olacks the ability to focus quickly, giving them poor depth perception and reaction time.

For some reason I seem to remember the tau laying eggs, although I cannot remember where I read/heard this and whether it was a GW publication or not...

Hellebore

DoombringerATT
16-07-2010, 02:20
No, Tau have never been said to lay eggs in a Games Workshop publication, though the theory has been presented before by fans (http://www.advancedtautactica.com/search.php?keywords=eggs&terms=all&author=&fid[]=5&sc=1&sf=all&sk=t&sd=d&sr=posts&st=0&ch=300&t=0&submit=Search), before Xenology explained that the reproductive process is human-analogous.

Shinzui
16-07-2010, 02:23
Inconsistencies?

Such as?


I ones I can remember off the top of my my head.

1) Obvious one, the Tau had proper feet not hooves.

- Obviously incorrect.

2) Poor Eyesight and relied on heightened sense of smell to see.

- Incorrect Index Xenos Tau clearly states Tau eyesight is superior to humans able to see into the infra red and ultra violet ends of spectrum. Their smell is superior to humans only at short distances.

3) The Tau eyes have pupils

Incorrect Index Xenos Tau says Tau lack pupil result in poorer focusing reflexes compared to humans.

4) Diamond Organ.

Debatable aspect. Index Xenos Tau says that Diamond is raised bone not an Organ.

5) High concentration of Pores on the skin to allow for efficient perspiration.

Unsure. Index Xenos Tau says their skin exudes almost no moisture.

ForgottenLore
16-07-2010, 02:48
Yes, those two sources are the strongest suggestions of the whole pheromone theory. The fact that an Imperial Biologis reports that the Ethereal's organ "is reminiscent" of known pheromone organs, that it apparently resembles a pheromone organ of a different species (maybe his notes don't explicitly say it was the ethereal, but that is likely), that he speculates it is used to influence the Tau, and that he is gradually going mad, do not make for conclusive proof of anything. Like most GW fluff, Xenology doesn't conclusively establish anything, it just hints and suggests (rather strongly, I grant you)

As for Fire Warrior, that book has always been on the edge of canonical, even more so than most Black Library books, but if you are willing to accept it as absolute canon (which I am not) Kais' reactions can still be explained (with difficulty) as a conditioned response to the presence of an Ethereal and not a drug induced euphoria like the author implies.

Again, I grant that passage is hard to refute if you accept all Black Library books as 100% canonical.

It should be noted that my (very strong) objection is to the Tau pheromone theory as a whole, that the Ethereals use pheromones to exert some extra-ordinary level of manipulation over other Tau. If you want to stipulate that the Organ in an Ethereals contains scent producing chemicals, that's fine, but anything more than that remains rumored until GW conclusively say out of character in a codex or similarly strong source or in universe fluff that has decent supporting evidence, beyond "this organ in this species looks just like the organ in another species that I chopped up during the dissection, so I am going to conclude they do the same thing."

Hellebore
16-07-2010, 03:00
Yes, those two sources are the strongest suggestions of the whole pheromone theory. The fact that an Imperial Biologis reports that the Ethereal's organ "is reminiscent" of known pheromone organs, that it apparently resembles a pheromone organ of a different species (maybe his notes don't explicitly say it was the ethereal, but that is likely), that he speculates it is used to influence the Tau, and that he is gradually going mad, do not make for conclusive proof of anything. Like most GW fluff, Xenology doesn't conclusively establish anything, it just hints and suggests (rather strongly, I grant you)

As for Fire Warrior, that book has always been on the edge of canonical, even more so than most Black Library books, but if you are willing to accept it as absolute canon (which I am not) Kais' reactions can still be explained (with difficulty) as a conditioned response to the presence of an Ethereal and not a drug induced euphoria like the author implies.

Again, I grant that passage is hard to refute if you accept all Black Library books as 100% canonical.

It should be noted that my (very strong) objection is to the Tau pheromone theory as a whole, that the Ethereals use pheromones to exert some extra-ordinary level of manipulation over other Tau. If you want to stipulate that the Organ in an Ethereals contains scent producing chemicals, that's fine, but anything more than that remains rumored until GW conclusively say out of character in a codex or similarly strong source or in universe fluff that has decent supporting evidence, beyond "this organ in this species looks just like the organ in another species that I chopped up during the dissection, so I am going to conclude they do the same thing."


Well you'd be disagreeing with biologists when they dissect REAL animals then, because there's a whole field of biology called 'comparative anatomy'.

The Ethereals appeared out of nowhere amidst strange lights in the hills. They are clearly not a natural part of the tau population, they never existed until they appeared that day. Their ability to turn aside generations of blood fueds amongst the other castes is beyond reasonable. The Water caste would have done that ages ago if they could simply 'convince' everyone that it was a bad idea. The water caste are better negotiators than the ethereals.

It's completely believeable that a clearly mutant strain of tau that had never existed before could walk amidst other groups of tau that hated each other for less severe reasons than 'you's got a bone in your head and are a mutant freak' and not only NOT get shot for being a freak, but actually get worshipped as the second coming. :eyebrows:

As far as I am concerned you're clutching at straws because you don't WANT the ethereals to control the tau with pheremones. The amount of evidence currently supporting the theory is a hell of a lot more than you find supporting other concepts in 40k - concepts that people take for granted.

Hellebore

DoombringerATT
16-07-2010, 03:00
Shinzui

Feet
1) I've already addressed the feet issue. No mention is made of "feet" in the text, and it is stated that Tau evolved from even-toed ungulates, so must have hooves of some kind.

Black Library works, such as Black Tide, do make mention of toes, but it is implied that there are hooves at the bottom of said toes.

Sensory Organs
2/3) Not quite as inconsistent as you'd imagine, and easily explained.


The Tau face is flat and wide across the eyes, and, in some respects, their vision is believed to be slightly superior to humans, able to see further wavelengths in both the ultra-violet and infrared ends of the spectrum. However, their lack of a dilatory pupil results in poorer depth perception and a slower focusing reflex. They have no external olfactory organs, rather, these are located on the inside of the mouth, and, at short distances appear to be much more sensitive than a human's. A Tau can therefore taste the air with its tongue and deposit the air sample on its sense organs.

b. Olfactory Chasm. Evidence of densely-massed subdermal receptor neuron; unexpected size & complexity of cilia. Conclusion: subject's scent-detection vastly superior. NB: Ethereal caste displays unknown 'diamond-organ'.
c. Occular organs. Lateral arrangement (185 peripheral) and 'mammalian' structure analogous with human eye. Primitive photoreceptors suggest limited sensitivity of vision. Conclusion: subject relies upon advanced olfactory senses (and technology?) to reconcile poor eyesight.

The two texts aren't in total disagreement. The Tau have pupils in the illustration - they just don't seem to dilate.

No mention is made comparing human sense of smell to a Tau's at longer ranges; just that at short ranges the Tau comes out very far ahead.

Oddly enough, this Index Xenos is the only Games Workshop source ever directly commenting on these physiological aspects of a Tau, while even Fire Warrior has Tau using their nasal orifice in an olfactory capacity. The use of the term 'subdermal receptors' may indicate the same thing as a Tau lacking an 'external olfactory organ'. Scents would be drawn in through the nasal chasm, likely into a Jacobson's organ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vomeronasal_organ) in the mouth, where the scents are processed.

It seems as though Black Library is far more internally consistent in regard to the Tau than Games Workshop is...

Diamond Organ
4) Diamond-shaped raised bone, with internal cavities for liquid pheromones... Again, not much of an inconsistency here, especially considering the first run of Ethereal models by Games Workshop, which clearly had diamond-shaped protrusions coming out of their forehead...

Perspiration
5) I'll agree that there are some inconsistencies here, but they aren't Xenology-specific by any means.


Their skin is rough in texture, dry and leathery, exuding almost no moisture.

i. Dermis. Uniform monotone (grey/blue) and hairless [see a.]. High concentration of porous nodules suggests efficient perspiration process (typical of arid-indigenous organism).

These two texts are by no means mutually exclusive. What if Tau skin was simply drier, on average? Dry skin does not immediately imply a lack of an perspiration process. I know from experience that my skin is exceptionally dry to the touch except during periods of intense physical activity or when exposed to extreme heat. The presence of an efficient perspiration system doesn't automatically suggest that their skin would be moist all the time, either. Their resistance to dehydration, as put forth by Imperial Armour III (pg. 80), seems to imply that their water-retention capabilities far surpass our own. Maybe those high-concentrations of efficient pores only kick in when absolutely necessary?

Even Kill Team said that the Tau had oily skin, implying some form of perspiration.

I, personally, believe Black Library's interpretation on this one. Their publications on the topic are far more recent than Games Workshop's original, and it hasn't been duplicated since.

One aspect of perspiration is the transmission of pheromones into the air. If the Tau had an existing method of subconscious pheromonal language (perspiration + heightened short-range olfactory capabilities), however more obvious than our own human version, then it would lend credence and believability to the insertion of Ethereals with subconscious pheromonal control mechanisms.

ForgottenLore

Fire Warrior's canonicity notwithstanding, it is still the single deepest look into Tau society and how they behave and communicate with one another that has ever been published.

The evidence of those pheromones doing something is pretty widespread. It's the specifics that we're still a little bit fuzzy about.

How do you explain, without the use of said pheromones, the line in the Tau Codex about a Fire Warrior killing himself if the Ethereal bid it so?

Mere devotion, alone? Committing suicide on command is something seemingly beyond mere verbal convincing.

Again, I'm not saying I advocate the theory of mind-control - just that Tau in the presence of Ethereals seem to be quite impressionable and open to suggestion. They inexplicably understand their place in the Tau'va and that they are a "cog in the machine", even against all evidence to the contrary.

The tribes of the plains restraining from killing the Ethereals approaching their camps on-sight was no mere conditioned response. Nor were the Fio and Por within the barred gates of Fio'taun.

I'm very much in concurrence with Hellebore on this one.

Polaria
16-07-2010, 06:26
Thanks for the answers so far. Usefull stuff. :)

I'd like to address two points briefly:

Hooves and Toes

Hooves and toes are not exclusive. Actually all hooves have toes, but in some they are more easily recognized: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Capreolus_capreolus_cloven_hoof.jpg

And, of course, Tau are not from earth. The dfining thing of "hoof" is not the lack of toes, but the strenghtening of the tip of toes by keratin covering. Thus a hoof can have as many toes as needed and still stay a hoof.


Ethereals and Pheromones

The eraly history of Tau pretty clearly illustrates that Tau are not a peacefull race by nature. Quite the opposite. They are extremely violent to the point of being genocidal. Then these Ethereal guys come in and change everything overnight... Now really? As I see it there are only a few possibilities of how this can be done:

#1 Ethereals are psionic and mind-washed everyone overnight... But we already accept that Tau don't have psionics. Period.

#2 Tau lie. Their society is still plagued by violent urges natural to every Tau (and pretty much every living being, mind you). The "peacefull society" based on Greater Good is a big lie kept up by extreme physical and mental violence and presenting a false picture to outside world... But then again pretty much everyone accepts that Tau society really isn't like that.

#3 Etherals are capable of controlling the emotional states of Tau around them by non-psionic (physical) means. Pheromones seems a lot better explanation of this than "hypnotic rays projected from eyes" or anything else...

Shinzui
16-07-2010, 06:45
I've already addressed the feet issue. No mention is made of "feet" in the text, and it is stated that Tau evolved from even-toed ungulates, so must have hooves of some kind.

Black Library works, such as Black Tide, do make mention of toes, but it is implied that there are hooves at the bottom of said toes.


Eh I was talking about the picture. Its clearly nothing like a Tau foot.


The two texts aren't in total disagreement. The Tau have pupils in the illustration - they just don't seem to dilate.

Know of an example?. Cause I haven't seen it in fact I've seen the opposite. The only other Tau art with a pupil is the cinematics in Firewarriors.


No mention is made comparing human sense of smell to a Tau's at longer ranges; just that at short ranges the Tau comes out very far ahead.

Well as clearly the Index Xenos was using at a base line comparison, if the Tau are superior at the long ranges that means otherwise its comparative with a human.


It seems as though Black Library is far more internally consistent in regard to the Tau than Games Workshop is...

Both books that mention it are written by the same Author.

Both Kill Team and Courage of honor has many differences. consistency is mostly due to shallow information (bar Fire Warrior).


These two texts are by no means mutually exclusive. What if Tau skin was simply drier, on average? Dry skin does not immediately imply a lack of an perspiration process. I know from experience that my skin is exceptionally dry to the touch except during periods of intense physical activity or when exposed to extreme heat. The presence of an efficient perspiration system doesn't automatically suggest that their skin would be moist all the time, either. Their resistance to dehydration, as put forth by Imperial Armour III (pg. 80), seems to imply that their water-retention capabilities far surpass our own. Maybe those high-concentrations of efficient pores only kick in when absolutely necessary?


Could be as I said I was unsure, the sentence doesn't give enough information.


I, personally, believe Black Library's interpretation on this one. Their publications on the topic are far more recent than Games Workshop's original, and it hasn't been duplicated since.

As GW is the word from above on all matters age doesn't really matter imo.


Fire Warrior's canonicity notwithstanding, it is still the single deepest look into Tau society and how they behave and communicate with one another that has ever been published.

Which was entirely made up with no GW input and only communicates with Xenology which is by the same author. I could go through the differences as the other novels but that's off topic :angel:


The evidence of those pheromones doing something is pretty widespread. It's the specifics that we're still a little bit fuzzy about.

I agree pheromones probably will be the answer though GW themselves have never come out.


How do you explain, without the use of said pheromones, the line in the Tau Codex about a Fire Warrior killing himself if the Ethereal bid it so?

I thought that was a Imperial 'information' article so that is a theory not fact that an Etherial is actually capable of that.


Again, I'm not saying I advocate the theory of mind-control - just that Tau in the presence of Ethereals seem to be quite impressionable and open to suggestion. They inexplicably understand their place in the Tau'va and that they are a "cog in the machine", even against all evidence to the contrary.

Something similar to what I think though the effect is much lower. when the castes first joined the Fire Caste didn't join until they saw the success the other castes were achieving not because the Ethereal made them feel apart of the group.

Clockwork-Knight
16-07-2010, 07:47
The idea of controlling an entire species capable of sealed environments through pheromones is dumb and beyond the ludicrous ideas that make Wh40k some fantasy-in-space-setting.
Next we're going to see, Inquisitors also have pheromones with which they can order Space Marines and Grey Knights around.

DoombringerATT
16-07-2010, 08:34
Polaria

Yeah, I know that toes and hooves aren't mutually exclusive, but the text is still ambiguous about it, and the illustration in Xenology clearly shows toed feet, complete with toenails. ;)

I would definitely agree with your assumptions in regard to Ethereal pheromones, but I think it's unfair to think that Tau are any more naturally violent than humans, or suppose that any race in the 40k universe is 'peaceful by nature' as a way of comparison. :rolleyes:

Shinzui

Black Library
In regard to the feet issue, yeah, I know you were talking about the illustration - I explained that it was, in all likelihood, an author-artist miscommunication.

As far as the pupils go, to clarify, your claim was that the Ethereal had pupils in Xenology.

Looking back at Xenology in more detail, identification of the claimed pupil in its own illustrations is even difficult, so I'm not really sure where the claim came from in the first place...

No mention is made of their existence or suspected operation in the text itself. This may be another author-artist miscommunication (in which case I think the artist should be fired for lack of involvement and interest in his subject material...) if pupils can be identified in the illustrations themselves, but once again, the explanation for the supposed presence of pupils in the illustration may simply mean that they lack dilatory properties. This would not conflict with the text in Index Xenos, that states that the Tau lack dilatory pupils.

As far as internal consistency, I've found Black Library and Forge World to be far more consistent than Games Workshop alone, in regard to the Tau. It is not author-specific.

Games Workshop cannot, with any fidelity, explain when Nimbosa took place, when the Damocles Gulf Crusade occurred, why there is an inexplicable Tau assault in Battle Missions taking place in 456.M40 (over a thousand years before the incident at Devlan), why certain Tau live to be 300 years old (I'd hardly accept the comment in the 5th Edition Rulebook as an explanation...), and even which Tau are the real scientists (Por astronomers in BFG and Por scientists testing and fine-tuning rail rifles in Chapter Approved 2004?) and many other pivotal aspects of Tau history or culture. They've botched things so badly that it's a wonder we can have these discussions at all, especially (though not exclusively) when it comes to chronology.

Even the Codex's POV is questionable. Is it Imperial, Tau, or 3rd Person Narrative?


Greetings, Commander, to this sacred text that will help you to further the Greater Good of the Tau Empire.

And yet, we have unexplained Ethereal methods of control only scant few pages away from detailed accounts of Tau history that the Imperium couldn't possibly have known...

At the end of the day, we're going to have to ignore something.

What that something is is largely up to the individual readers. :(

Fio'taun
In regard to the Plains Tribes being the hardest to convince, remember that representatives of what would become the Earth and Fire Castes were both present at Fio'taun to call the truce.


Fire Warrior[/i]"]And then the Auns had appeared. They came slowly, calmly — barefooted and unsullied by the hate and suspicion of their astonished brethren. They stepped between the campfires of the besieging army and appeared as if from nowhere within the impassable walls of the city.

And they talked. And as they talked, the tribes listened. They listened and they wondered, and they were filled with awe and reverence for these strange, graceful beings with their words of unity and progress.

And the gates of Fio’taun opened, so the legend went, and the tribes met unarmed for the first time, and their leaders were seated at a mighty round table named Chia’Gor. And the Auns talked until the spokesmen of the tribes summoned the courage to participate. And slowly, so gradually that even the fiery plains tribes were gently coaxed into harmony, the tau’va was born.

An explanation for the Codex text is that the nomadic Plains Tribes were scattered and disparate, so reaching out to them would be far more difficult and likely take the longest amount of time.

Another possibility is that the word of the Tau'va spread faster than Ethereals could visit the tribes themselves, so the warriors of the Plains looked on the works of the more cohesive Builder, Trader, and Air Tau with skepticism before being coaxed into assimilation.

Clockwork-Knight

Exactly.

That's why the assertion that Ethereals using pheromones as 'mind-control' in a modern Empire is ridiculous.

Such powers would have been useful when the entire race lived on one planet, or for the purposes of initially unifying them, but now that the Empire has grown to encompass over 125 worlds, it is simply unfeasible to suggest that this is the only thread keeping the Tau from snapping and going renegade, which is what so many "Farsight proves that the Tau would rebel without Ethereals!" supporters seem to cling to.

Lionsprey
16-07-2010, 08:51
So etherals are basicly walking incense?

Polaria
16-07-2010, 10:01
Polaria

...

I would definitely agree with your assumptions in regard to Ethereal pheromones, but I think it's unfair to think that Tau are any more naturally violent than humans, or suppose that any race in the 40k universe is 'peaceful by nature' as a way of comparison. :rolleyes:


I said Tau are naturally violent to the point of being genocidal. As are humans. I think their natural tendencies are pretty even. With this in mind I find the idea that Ethereals would have succeeded in changing the whole planetary society of Tau into non-self-destructive and comparatively peacefull as impossible as the idea that someone doing the same with humans without the help of some pretty heavy mind-control...

Okay, Tau are not humans but they still aren't a bunch of vegetarian hippies, either. The Ethereals clearly have some edge and I don't think its just talking sweet.

Shinzui
16-07-2010, 10:37
As far as the pupils go, to clarify, your claim was that the Ethereal had pupils in Xenology.

Looking back at Xenology in more detail, identification of the claimed pupil in its own illustrations is even difficult, so I'm not really sure where the claim came from in the first place...

The picture. its clearly their an pupil and an iris in the close up of the face.


As far as internal consistency, I've found Black Library and Forge World to be far more consistent than Games Workshop alone, in regard to the Tau. It is not author-specific.

There is no internal consistency though. Authors do the research themselves there's no input from GW, this artist 'miscommunication' is just a glaring example, if they can't even relize the picture is wrong (I'm talking about the feet as their obvious) how do you have faith that the editor reads the book to make sure its in line with the race.

And to be honest the Tau novel are consistent (to a point) is mainly being the reason that other than Kill Team and Fire Warrior details of the Tau are largely kept to bad guy cameo level.


Games Workshop cannot, with any fidelity, explain when Nimbosa took place, when the Damocles Gulf Crusade occurred, why there is an inexplicable Tau assault in Battle Missions taking place in 456.M40 (over a thousand years before the incident at Devlan), why certain Tau live to be 300 years old (I'd hardly accept the comment in the 5th Edition Rulebook as an explanation...),

Yeah I accept GW has timeline issues, its not Tau specific but I'm not sure how that makes them worse than the Authors that don't even have to worry about that. I mean Fire Warrior novel space part was a joke, the Tau ships acted like Eldar and the CPF didn't even exist then only normal BFG.

GW has issues granted but they are the fluff masters. Though Tau fluff has become messy but then again Tau hasn't been taken seriously since EOT.


and even which Tau are the real scientists (Por astronomers in BFG and Por scientists testing and fine-tuning rail rifles in Chapter Approved 2004?) and many other pivotal aspects of Tau history or culture.

Eh? my CA says Earth caste were there but the Water caste was making the presentation.

Gav came out when BFG armada came out and said it was a typo but they weren't going to change it as it wasn't worth the reprint.


Even the Codex's POV is questionable. Is it Imperial, Tau, or 3rd Person Narrative?

Its 3rd person. Certain parts are 'articles' themed from Imperial perspective (which have since been stopped in 4th ed) and it'll also mention things the Imperium has/wants/fears against x.


At the end of the day, we're going to have to ignore something.

What that something is is largely up to the individual readers.

I usually go like this

Race Codex > Other race Codex > Expansion > Novels written by Codex designer > Novel > Game> My Cat > CS Goto

If a piece of information is present anywhere down the chain I consider it cannon, If it contradicts the piece further up the chain then that takes priority or if both are the same then which one is newest.

But I agree Tau background is messy at the moment I guess its part of the static universe part which started after EOT, They did pretty good until then.

spetswalshe
16-07-2010, 12:44
My chain is

Codex > Dark Heresy > BL 'artifact' books > BL novels > Newspapers > Starcraft > CS Goto's mother > CS Goto

but I'm aware that if CS Goto's mother has no information then I'll probably just give up.

ForgottenLore
16-07-2010, 15:52
All of which is why I insist the pheromone manipulation theory is still just that - theoretical. Not Proved conclusively.

DoombringerATT
16-07-2010, 17:32
Xenology

I'm looking at the picture right now and I don't see a clearly defined pupil or iris.

I see some stark specular reflection (http://www.artsquared.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/tutorials/tutorial01/11.jpg) though; a common technique many artists use to indicate shine/moisture in the eye.

Other than that, like I said, I don't conclusively see an iris or pupil. The eye graduates from gray on the outside to dark grey near the center (the upper half of the eye is darker than the lower half, indicating shadow from the eyelid or brow) with a patchwork of white lines that may indicate capillaries on the edges, and five white dots in each eye indicating reflection.

Right Eye (http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h276/Doombringer126/Eye2.jpg)
Left Eye (http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h276/Doombringer126/Eye.jpg)

Everything Else...

I see your point about much of the background being lost in translation between Games Workshop's intent and an author/editor's faith to intimately know the background.

As far as the Chapter Approved article, no mention is made of the Earth Caste. It clearly states that the only Tau present were the Shas'O Me'drek, Aun'vre Va'Shant, Por'el Kassad, another Water Caste technician, and a Fire Warrior doing the testing.

I'll accept that Games Workshop are the "fluff masters", who dictate such broad guidelines to others for interpretation and publishing, but none of it strikes me as holding much weight in light of both Games Workshop's and Black Library's glaring errors. Only thing is, I've found fewer obvious errors in the more numerous Black Library works than I've found in the fewer Games Workshop publications, which doesn't shine a good light on Games Workshop, because half the time it's their own "fluff master" writers authoring this stuff.

Again though, Xenology conclusively states that there are pheromones in the bone-ridge, simply confirming the one theory that held the most weight in the Codex.

As it stands, Games Workshop has published nothing conflicting, so where does the oft-mentioned 'scale of canonicity' even come to play? If nothing conflicts, and all the inform is simply supportive or illustrative, then surely whatever information is available should filter up the chain as canon, until something else (preferably higher up the chain) takes precedent.

Clockwork-Knight
16-07-2010, 18:48
Or perhaps the Tau prisoner mutated when she was brought to the complex through the warp, and that's how her hoves transformed into feet, as well as the crest on her head becoming more similar to the Quorl-organ.
If that female "Ethereal" was even an Etheral... Or a female.

The Warp did it.

DoombringerATT
16-07-2010, 20:10
And segueing into another thread here at Warseer (http://www.warseer.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4828663&postcount=20), referring to a post by Aaron Dembski-Bowden over at the Bolter & Chainsword forums (http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/index.php?showtopic=206072&st=75&p=2462155&#entry2462155), it seems as though Games Workshop and Black Library both are at least mildly involved with an author's writing and how it fits into the lore of the 40k universe, giving it their seal of approval at various stages in the publication's creation.

If things were glaringly inconsistent, especially in regard to pivotal elements of a race's background, you'd think they would have forced a revision somewhere along the line...

I'd also like to refer you to this comment, which has some relevance to our discussion.


Now, I'm not saying mistakes are never made. They are. Plenty. Plennnnnnty. It's a license shared by hundreds of creators and hundreds of thousands of fans. Stuff goes wrong. Retcons aren't popular. Etc, etc. But because of BL's reputation as "not the design studio", you'll often see them taking fire for "incorrect lore" and "inconsistencies", which aren't either of those things at all. Some people see practically anything different or new as an error.

If you're hired by Black Library or Forge World, you're still hired by Games Workshop, and you're given the authority to add to the lore. You're entrusted with doing so, so long as you don't spaz it up. Some people do. We've all seen that, we've all seen certain sources screw up. Some people generate a perspective that's just too deviant for most fans, and is more incorrect than unique. But with all the proofing stages going on, and the experienced 40K lore nuts reading this stuff, the reason some of these books contain "errors" is because they're not errors to anyone inside the company.

In essence, I don't believe for one second that Games Workshop simply overlooked this. Sure, they overlook stuff all the time (see: Battle Missions, for example), but this? Xenology has been added to the relatively short list of Tau-related publications out there and has information vital to how we understand the Tau as a species and culture.

Assuming that something of this magnitude is a mere error or inconsistency is far worse than a fudge in the timeline (which can often be explained as "The Warp did it", as Clockwork-Knight so eloquently put it).

The simple fact that Simon Spurrier has been allowed to bring it up twice in Black Library literature is testament to the idea that it's probably not an oversight...

FarseerMatt
17-07-2010, 00:38
Or perhaps the Tau prisoner mutated when she was brought to the complex through the warp, and that's how her hoves transformed into feet, as well as the crest on her head becoming more similar to the Quorl-organ.
If that female "Ethereal" was even an Etheral... Or a female.

My take on it -

Feet: Tau castes show significant evolutionary dimorphism, so it's entirely possible that the Fire Caste - who began as plains tribes in open grasslands with lots of room to run - evolved or retained hooves (or something similar) whereas the Ethereals didn't.

Pheromones: Xenology is pretty conclusive about pheromones from the implanted Q'orl organ being responsible for the Ethereals being able to control other Tau in close proximity. Their dominance over Tau society as a whole can be explained by the "peer pressure" and ingrained cultural traditions that would arise from this - i.e they are taught and conditioned to obey Ethereals even if they are out of pheromone range.

And for the Eldar to engineer this to unite and bring to prominence a race that could be useful to them (they are naturally resistant to Chaos, and unlike humans actually sometimes listen to the warnings of other races) does make some degree of sense.

Clockwork-Knight
17-07-2010, 01:12
My take on it -

Feet: Tau castes show significant evolutionary dimorphism, so it's entirely possible that the Fire Caste - who began as plains tribes in open grasslands with lots of room to run - evolved or retained hooves (or something similar) whereas the Ethereals didn't.
Ethereals have hooves.
So either the the editor did a bad job (the most logical explanation, but Black Library will never admit it), or the mechanicus adept draw totally false stuff to the body (might be explained by insanity), or the Warp did it (can explain everything).
Just like another mechanicus adept theorized and nearly went insane when he postulated the theory about the Kraken on Fenris or the Catachan Devil being former tyranid monstrosities (although that might be true with the new codex - I haven't read it that much yet).

Shinzui
17-07-2010, 01:47
As far as the Chapter Approved article, no mention is made of the Earth Caste. It clearly states that the only Tau present were the Shas'O Me'drek, Aun'vre Va'Shant, Por'el Kassad, another Water Caste technician, and a Fire Warrior doing the testing.

Your right, I remembered the technician as a Earth caste as his was never clarified what Caste he was. He was simply referred to as a colleague.


Again though, Xenology conclusively states that there are pheromones in the bone-ridge, simply confirming the one theory that held the most weight in the Codex.

As it stands, Games Workshop has published nothing conflicting, so where does the oft-mentioned 'scale of canonicity' even come to play? If nothing conflicts, and all the inform is simply supportive or illustrative, then surely whatever information is available should filter up the chain as canon, until something else (preferably higher up the chain) takes precedent.

Yeah that's why I don't have a problem with Pheromones, I'm happy with the concept, though of course I have a personal preference to how I'd like them to work.


In essence, I don't believe for one second that Games Workshop simply overlooked this. Sure, they overlook stuff all the time (see: Battle Missions, for example), but this? Xenology has been added to the relatively short list of Tau-related publications out there and has information vital to how we understand the Tau as a species and culture.

Assuming that something of this magnitude is a mere error or inconsistency is far worse than a fudge in the timeline (which can often be explained as "The Warp did it", as Clockwork-Knight so eloquently put it).

The simple fact that Simon Spurrier has been allowed to bring it up twice in Black Library literature is testament to the idea that it's probably not an oversight...

This pretty much sums up my experience, stolen from the thread.


Gav's article on his blog. He was making the case that players should not make the distinction between "canon" and "non-canon" as that would make them dismiss the creations of some authors or hobbyists, but he then went on to describe cases where sometimes Black Library material get's adopted into the "game universe" by the Studio writers if they like it enough. I get the impression that even though GW does not really want there to be a distinction between canon and non-canon, there really is. They just don't call it that.

They'll never come out and say BL stuff is non cannon as that would hurt sales. But the glaring errors that doesn't even need a background fan to notice exists. that author laments about people nit picking on obscure things but that's not nearly the case a good amount of the time. It seem he was partly trying to blame the editor, cause they ok'd it then its fine sorta urked me I don't think I'd get away with it in my job :angel:.