View Full Version : Au'Mer, The Hidden Sept (Fluff and Paintery of Red, White, and Blue Taus)

20-04-2013, 08:32
The True Story

One day, I sat down to paint some Tau, because I wanted to be a real hobbyist. Walk the walk, y'know. I'm a fan of bright colors, and my fire warriors came out red, white, and blue (a little gold and black). I liked the scheme, but felt if I were gonna go for the colors of the American flag in my army, I had better just own it to the core. The idea of Colonial America seemed like fertile fluffery grounds for the Tau, especially given their rampant colonization of star systems. All I needed was the right chapter of Tau history to slip my burgeoning idea for a world into. I figured it couldn't be a first or second sphere expansion Sept... those are all pretty well documented in the 'dex. So, Third Sphere it was. Or, semi-Third Sphere. Anyway, this is a thread for me to collect my creative meanderings with both the written word and brush as I explore the Ameritau. The Taumericans. The... well, you get the point.

I'm not a brilliant painter or modeler. I'm learning as I go. I would really love this army to look nice on the tabletop, and really to just be totally painted and based. And pointers are appreciated, and so is just the motivation to finish this force. These are my goals, as I lay them before you today.

The Fluff Story

In the wake of the Tau Empire’s first encounter with the Imperium of Man, an Imperial Crusade crashed into their outlying worlds, devastating the youngest colonies before they had a chance to mature into septs. The Fire Caste fought a hasty retreating action against the Imperial onslaught, but they couldn’t just pick up and run; they had assets to protect. The Ethereal Council tasked two commanders – brothers by the names of O’Romu and O’Remu – to gather small, elite hunter cadres, and extract stranded Ethereals, Water Caste administrators, and Earth Caste scientists from the clutches of the Imperium’s war machine. They had a list of more than 1,000 Tau to preserve, and a dwindling handful of days to do it in. The duo performed admirably, snatching nearly 70% of their targets out of the path of the Imperium’s war juggernaut. Alas, their final mission was not to go as well.

The Imperium can be called many things: archaic, barbaric, callous, and vast. It is a foolish commander, though, who thinks their backwards culture and sluggish reaction time indicates tactical stupidity. Recognizing that a single, lightning fast force was extracting key targets for Inquisitorial questioning from within their grasp, the Imperium laid a trap.

The brothers made planetfall on a remote colony world, barely yet touched by conflict, to extract a lightly guarded young ethereal by the name of Aun’Nu. No sooner had they made contact than the noose, concealed in the planet’s dense foliage, sprang up around them. Stalwart in their duty, the brothers fought on, even when they found themselves encircled by a tank column and bombarded by aircraft from the sky. Seeing that they could not longer extract themselves quickly, O’Remu chose to make the ultimate sacrifice. Commandeering virtually all the shas’ui on hand, he led a suicidal run against the armored ring surround them, punching a hole in the lines and providing a line of escape for Aun’Nu and his brother. O’Remu perished, along with more than half of the cadres’ battlesuit-wearing shas’ui.

O’Remu’s sacrifice bought O’Romu time, but it did not conclude the conflict. Though they safely made the rendezvous with their Air Caste transports, the Tau found themselves hotly pursued by superior forces. The dogfight followed them into space and out of the system, the blackness of space aglow with the exchange of hot plasma, hulls and chest cavities shaking with the unheard rapport of rail weapons. Suddenly, the lead transport craft with most of the high profile passengers on board sustained irreparable damage to its sublight drive. The Ethereals on hand called a brief conference with O’Romu and the Air Caste Admiral, O’Carus. They decided to make for the nearest system, a nearby red sun with a single, enormous gas giant orbiting it, directly on the northern-most fringe of the Damocles Gulf. Though their scans revealed no habitable planets – indeed, no solid ground of any kind – the gas giant’s rings played havoc with their sensors. They hoped it would do the same to the Imperium.

The Tau lost three ships, mostly carrying military personnel, in their flight to the system, but their gambit paid off. As soon as their vessels passed through the gas giant’s rings, the Imperial forces seemed to lose their scent completely. In fact, it was almost as if their pursuers had no idea that a system was there, despite it growing ever larger out their viewports. The attacking armada scattered, leaving the Tau to lick their wounds and consider their next move.

As they descended through the silver clouds of the rings, a peculiar sensation ran through the senses of all present. A shiver, and a warmth, and then... nothing. It was not simply a return to normalcy, but the distinct absence of something, unseen and unheard by any Tau for their entire lives, but suddenly and distinctly gone, nonetheless.

Fearing being stranded without supplies, the Tau – rightly awed – discovered a miracle beneath the strange rings. The gas giant held fast in its orbit no less than fifty moons, of wildly different sizes and atmospheres. Some were the size of T’au Prime itself, while others where little more than captured asteroids. Some proved to even be readily habitable. The wounded freighter limped to the nearest orb with a breathable atmosphere, and the Tau military followed suit. The lone Kroot war sphere accompanying them hurtled past the planet, heading for what they perceived as greener pastures. They slammed into the side of a swampy, semi-toxic little pebble rife with primitive life.

Cut off from the Empire, things seemed grim for the Tau. As always, however, the wisdom of the Ethereals proved their salvation. Aun'Nu wen through the hastily erected camps, and met every surviving Tau in the company, learning their skills, listening to their stories, and giving them a few words of encouragement. While this heartened the Tau, the Ethereal's true purpose was to concoct a plan to reestablish contact with the Empire, make repairs to the weapons, ships, and equipment, and harvest the treasure trove of natural resources they had stumbled upon for the Greater Good.

By morning, every Tau had a task, handed to them personally by Aun'Nu. Air caste pilots systematically scanned the nearby lunar bodies for threats or resources to exploit. The wealth of Earth caste civil engineers on hand began to lay the groundwork for colonies and cities. The handful of geologists were tasked with immediately beginning mining operations for raw materials, while the all-to-sparse communications experts found themselves intensely studying the rings, in the hopes to find a way to communicate through them without giving away their position to the Imperium. Water Caste officials lubricated and coordinated the processes, simultaneously reestablishing contact with the wayward Kroot, whom they found well-fed and happy on their own little rock. And the fire warriors... well, they began drilling for lightning fast guerilla raids, without the benefit of their vaunted battlesuits.

Aun'Nu stirred the cauldron of this new world, and from the murky depths behind the planet's alien rings, the order of the Greater Good began to take hold.

The Map

Well, that's it for fluff for today. What are these strange rings? Why is it called the hidden sept?! Why did I riff off the founding myth of Rome?!?!? All these questions, and maybe also not some of these questions, answered with more story (and model pictures) tomorrow. But as this is a plog, I thought I'd leave you all with a map of Au'mer prime, as it comes to be.


20-04-2013, 08:51
Cool start to a plog! I think the scheme will be difficult to pull off (then again I've never liked those colours on models - personal preference) but looking forward to seeing what you have and following you on the journey.

Nomrana Est
20-04-2013, 10:05
Ooh, I'm liking the concept behind this. Very nice, with a little bit of intrigue as to where they are and what's going on.

Have to agree with Fold, not entirely sure about the colours, but, if it's anything like the fluff, then I'm very much looking forward to it.

20-04-2013, 16:31

Fold - Thanks man! I'm excited to see what you think of these pictures. Love your eldar!

Nomrana Est- Thanks, dude! In life, story is my forte. :) I'm glad you enjoy it. I'm also eager for feedback from you. Your Omega Marines look great, and (as you may have guessed) I really dig the inclusion of fluff in these project logs.

Photos and Fluff and Stuff

Aun’Nu, the First Ethereal – The only surviving resident of Au’Mer who saw the system settled, Aun’Nu has lived long, even by Ethereal standards. Amongst the system’s Tau, his words are law, inspiration, and unbreakable oaths. He is old, yet he occasionally takes to the battlefield to keep the troops’ morale high. The Au’Mer system hides many secrets – the nature of its rings, the odd signals from the gas giant below, its very existence to outsiders of the Empire – and these are Aun’Nu’s to protect. When he encourages the Tau of Au’Mer to battle, you can be sure there’s more at stake than simple territory.


This model originally came into my possession when I was a mere 14 or 15 years of age (I'm 28 now). This was one of the first models I painted, and it came out horribly. Nevertheless, painting his blue skin and the white and red of his robes led me down the first steps of my color scheme. I have since stripped the paint (for a second time) and repainted him to the best of my abilities. It's not even my favorite sculpt of an Ethereal, but like the storied Aun'Nu he now represents, the little guy has been with me for so long that he'll always have a place in my army.

Gorrum Kyle, the Destiny Shaper – The Kroot shaper known as Gorrum Kyle is a particularly mercenary individual, even by Kroot standards. Aside from the typical Krootly motivators of food and evolution, he values wealth above all else. He insists on his Kroot carrying gold alloy blades and wearing armor of the same hue. He dyes all of his company’s skins a bright, ferocious red. Gorrum has a vision for his people, a vision of a future of wealth, full bellies, and constant battles. It is the destiny he seeks to shape. Of course, the Kroot cannot produce these alloys and dyes themselves. For that they rely on the Tau. For their part, Earth Caste of the Au’Mer system happily comply, since Gorrum’s intensely mercenary reputation has actually been an effective aid to Fire Caste operations. Often, the Kroot will hire himself out to enemy forces, or sell them sensitive information, immediately turning around telling his secret Tau masters in the Hidden Sept what he has learned of enemy plans, forces, and movements. His loyalty remains forever purchased as long as the dye and gold keep flowing.


This guy I came by more recently. From my early days, I had 20 kroots and about four hounds, I guess, just languishing. I never used to like them when I was young. But as I rediscovered my Tau and decided I'd like to seriously practice the hobby, I found I had begun to see their charm. I picked up a shaper, three krootox, and eight hounds, so that I could field a full-sized unit of these guys, should I ever feel it necessary. I really like the hounds in the old 'dex, but in the new one, I think I'll actually forego them. Infiltrating Krootoxes are way better. Painting wise, I went for a bone-colored skin with peak highlights of white, to try to keep the kroot withing the feel of the army without having them look exactly like the fire warriors. Also included a shot of three finished kroot warriors (one based) and a very much WIP Krootox.

Continued in the next post...

20-04-2013, 17:36

The Tau spread quickly throughout the system, working to rebuild and rearm their battered forces. Between colonies, outposts, mining operations, and even an intensely low gravity gaseous moon used as a base of operations by the Air Caste, they occupied thirteen of the lunar bodies. Without orders from the Empire, they were forced to pursue what they saw as the best course of action. O'Romu marshaled a small cadre from the remaining forces, and O'Carus selected his best pilots by hand. The joint Fire and Air Caste task force tentatively poked its sensors out beyond the rings to take stock of the Empire's situation. They found evidence of the passage of a massive number of Imperial ships, which popped in and out of existence at seemingly random intervals. One thing became certain, however. The Crusade had crossed the Damocles gulf, and slammed into heavily settled areas of Tau space. While the full might of the Empire was no doubt brought to bear, so too did its citizens suffer intolerable losses. O'Romu found himself too weak, with too few ships, to join the fight at the front lines. In fact, he was firmly behind enemy lines, a situation any hunter is familiar with. His army was small, but with calculated strikes against nearby Imperial planets - used as supply lines and staging areas for additional Crusade forces - he could still help win this war. He conducted a series of covert raids on nearby worlds, never staying planetside for more than a single engagement. He picked weak prey - an isolated Imperial Guard regiment, a Tech Priest and guard attempting to restore a damaged Land Raider, supply ships with only a skeleton guard - and struck hard. Though the Tau doctrine of war counsels that mercy and giving quarter can win more hearts than a complete slaughter, in order to protect the secret of his forces' base of operations, O'Romu left no survivors. The Imperial forces might detect his movements on their long range sensors, or even hear the thunder of his guns, but when they arrived at the scene of his hunt, all they found were scorch marks upon the earth. In this way, from both his troops and his enemies, O'Romu earned the name Commander Stormfront.

Meanwhile, the Earth Caste scientist El'Jori found herself the lone communications expert in the Au'Mer system, tasked with unraveling the impossible of secrets of what surely constituted one or more new elements, with substandard equipment. Each new discovery she made only lead to further questions. In long range communications, it was absolutely essential to understand and analyze the white noise of the galaxy, and compensate for it to prevent total signal degradation. While things like solar flares, ionic storms, and magnetic comets could not be predicted, there were some universal constants on which the Earth Caste had come to depend. El'Jori discovered that beneath the blanket of Au'Mer's rings, one of these constant sub-frequency variances was simply missing. Indeed, the rings altered something fundamental about the nature of the universe. Even stranger, there was a different sub-frequency variance present, prone to more violent surges of the electromagnetic spectrum, but entirely less omnipresent. This sub-signal emanated from somewhere below, deep within the eternally raging storms of the gas giant. While she could not understand the reasons for this difference, she nevertheless could analyze the noise variations and attempt to compensate. She developed a theoretical new communications array, named the Elro'r'myr, translating literally as the Long Blade of Speaking. Colloquially, the Tau thought of it more as The Spear of Words. By networking together a physically linked chain of communication satellites, each scanning for both the internal and external ring variances, El'Jori created a system that could intelligently compensate for the intense signal decay caused by the erratic, unpredictable energies in the Au'Mer system. To work effectively, the word spear would have to span the entire length of the rings. Presenting her plan to Aun'Nu, she obtained permission to commandeer that vast majority of the system's resources to construct her chain satellite.

The Tau were one step closer to home.

Commander Stormfront's (and subsequent commanders) Forces - Pictures

Continued in the next post!

20-04-2013, 17:38
Fire Warriors!

A second team!




Continued again in the next post!

20-04-2013, 17:43
Finally, the Stealth Division.



Whelp, that's it for what I have totally painted so far.

Soon, I'll start posting the projects in progress stuff, such at the two (count 'em) Fireblade Cadre conversions I'm working on, two more converted old school Broadsides, and more kroots and fire warriors and pathfinders yet to be painted. I also have about a zillion drones, three piranhas, two more hammeheads/sky rays (that need a bit of repair work), and two devilfish to post up. I'm thinking of painting the devilfish in the blue/gray with red accents palette of the stealth division team. Also, someday, when the mailman stops hating me and wanted me to shed sad, sad tears of sadness, I will get a Riptide and Sun Shark Bomber in the mail.

EDIT - There are two more posts with pictures of painted models between this one and the one that's currently appearing above it. Don't know what happened to them? Forum noob fail.

Nomrana Est
20-04-2013, 19:32
Well, it seems my reservations are unfounded, especially in regards to Aun'Nu. He has come out really nicely, and I certainly like the fluff behind Gorrum Kyle. Really shows off the mercenary style of the Kroot, namely that they'll fight for the winning side.

There are some things which I think could do with improvement, namely the white of the armour. It doesn't look smooth, and looks like it was applied in one thick coat. The Pathfinders and Stealthsuits have a nice theme behind them, but it's only those points which detracts from them.

Might I suggest applying thinning down the paint that you use for the white, and apply it in thinner coats? Coming up from a progressively lighter grey basecoat instead of black should work wonders, as well as using many thin layers of white.

I'm loving them otherwise, and I'm looking forward to more!

21-04-2013, 01:07
Now it's my turn to agree :)

You did a good job with the colours, basically the trick is not to do equal amounts of red and blue but focus on one or the other, which you've done here with aplomb. Whether its mainly red with blue accents (as with the ethereal) or mainly blue but with red accents (as with the pathfinders) it CAN work. Well done!

However, definitely explore thinning your paints (for everything, especially white) as you will get much better results.

21-04-2013, 03:13
Hey, thanks guys!

I will definitely explore the paint thinning thing. I have pretty much just been going straight out the pot colors on this whole thing, but that makes sense as a way to make the color transitions smoother, and less blotchy. Thanks for the advice!

The two missing posts appeared above with more fluff and pictures.

I also have some progress shots to share.

Fist of Dorn
21-04-2013, 21:33
Nice looking tau with some interesting conversion. As I was looking at the pictures I was thinking exactly the same as the other guys, but then I'm in the same boat and need to be thinning my paints too. i look forward to seeing the progress.