The Kroot are a vassal species to the Tau Empire. Rather bitey. Basically carnivorous space chickens who look like a cross between Amerindians, the dreadlocked aliens from Predator, and ancient Terran terror birds. They steal genetic traits of things they eat, and work for people who aren't the Tau. Which means they are cool.
However, the Kroot see little support from Games Workshop and players in general, likely due to the fact that their odd stats, high frailty despite being billed as a melee force, and lack of wargear in the Tau list make them less than effective, and their mercenary codex is from Chapter Approved (and thus no longer legal). And as we all know, GW would rather just make reams of unnecessary Space Marine variant codices than give an update to a faction who actually needs it.
For those interested, there's a high-quality and mostly balanced 5th-ed Fan-Dex. Most people will let you use it in a friendly game.
Xenology suggests that the reason Kroot are humanoid, able to walk and think as well as build the giant warp-capable warspheres they use for getting around in space (while generally being on the technological level of a medieval society - the only reason their guns can really hurt stuff is because the Tau gave them advanced pulse munitions) is that at one time in their history, an Ork ship crashed on Pech (the Kroot's home planet). The Kroot promptly started eating the dazed survivors of this crash (how they managed to not end up with a full-blown Ork infestation remains anyone's guess) and subsequently managed to gain some of the Orks' innate understanding for technology, as well as a measure of their resilience. Oh, and the basic humanoid body layout on top of that. Two arms, bipedal gait, the whole shebang. Evidence for this are pieces of wreckage marked with Ork glyphs scattered all over Pech that the Kroot regard as sacred objects, as well as the presence of hybrid fungal matter in parts of their body.
For some reason, the fluff likes to point out how revolting the Kroot are for their carnivorous practices, even though, when you really stop and think about it, the Kroot are one of the more morally upright races around - they're explicitly not xenophobic racists, they have to eat dead sapients to stay intelligent (unlike, say, Space Marines and Tyranids who also eat people's brains to gain knowledge, or the fucking Dark Eldar), and they're not notably more cruel than anyone else but the Tau, who seem to be the only people in the universe who more or less tolerate them. Although this may have to do with point of view, most of the time it's the Tau or Imperial Guard who would find the eating of the dead, friend or foe, gross. Tyranids are viewed as mindless animals, so eating things isn't as "wrong" for them, and most people forgot Space Marines can gain knowledge by eating brains. Most who do spend their time around Kroot generally seem to like them, though. The "revolting" part may be more of a knee-jerk reaction from people not used to seeing bird people eating dudes.
You may have noticed that this article talks a lot about eating. According to Chapter Approved in White Dwarf, the Kroot physiology basically revolves around their mouth. They have multiple stomachs, no excretory organs (what they can't digest, they puke up), and females even breed by transforming a stomach into a womb and then vomiting up the baby/babies when it's/they're full grown. Take a wild guess how they conceive.
...The answer is back rubs. Male Kroot have specialized pores that secrete a gene-bearing bio-fluid (what experts refer to as "alien bird-jizz") on their palms, whilst female Kroot have "receptor pores" for this fluid on the smalls of their back. So when two Kroot make babies, the male has to give the female a back rub. Yeah, we thought it would be kinkier, too.
Fun Fact: they are the only nonhuman species that can have Blanks, likely because they ate one at some point.
Kroot also moonlight as mercenaries for races other than the Tau, though about the only sapient beings whose flesh they won't eat are the Tau, since the Tau saved them from extinction. Mercenary bands eat lots of different stuff, and so can have various genetic traits. Thus, Kroot can use Weeaboo Fightan Magiks, be cunnin' but fighty, or have balls of steel, depending on who they've eaten, but not as well as the originals. Eating Chaos-types causes Bad Things™ to happen. They also refuse to eat the 'Nids, because the Shapers, the Kroot leaders, fear becoming slaves to the Hive Mind. They also can't eat anyone infected by the Necrons' Nanites because Nanites will turn Kroot into another Necron/C'Tan zombie slave. They also get paid in weapons, allowing them to use Imperial and Tau special weapons together, and nearly their entire army can infiltrate,
and get 1st turn assault if they're lucky (NOPE, 6th edition ended that shit). Kroot don't use tanks or much in the way of tech (aside from long rifle-like guns with blades on both ends), instead using native animals derived from the Kroot genus. They have attack dogs, gorillas with elephant guns, riding beasts like allosaurs, and really big riding beasts like T. rexes. Think the Gungans from The Phantom Menace, only not totally lame.
They also have a rather dark sense of humor; for example, offering human meat to human diplomats because they think seeing their reactions are funny. This is also shown in the second Last Chancers book "Kill Team", where Kage is forced to eat a human brain (while he goes into horrific detail about the taste and texture). After this, the Kroot reveals that this was a secret test of character, but also that it was good for shits and giggles. In general, the Kroot sense of humor revolves around making other people profoundly uncomfortable. For example, a Kroot might walk into the same elevator as a Water Caste diplomat, turn up her pungent pheromones to full blast, and silently laugh her bird-woman ass off as the increasingly-uncomfortable fellow passenger tries to ignore it with less and less success.
Known Kroot Forms
As mentioned above, the downside of Kroot consumptive evolution is that it's really easy for them to get "stuck" on the wrong path and devolve permanently into an avatistic form. As a consequence, every ecological niche on Pech is now filled by some form of degenerated kroot. But, so far, only a select handful of Kroot offshoots have been explicitly called out...
- Kroot Hounds are one of the most iconic of these strains, having been around since the Kroot were released. These Kroot degenerated into small, sleek, pack-hunting quadrupeds, easily tamed by their still-sapient cousins.
- Krootoxes are the second-most iconic Kroot strains; degenerated into hulking, ape-like herbivores, they're mostly used as beasts of burden and as mobile mounts for heavy artillery.
- Lesser Knarlocs are sort of a step-up from the Kroot Hounds, being analogous to either a pack-hunting terror-bird or a more avian pack of velociraptors. Kroot like to ride them as cavalry.
- Great Knarlocs are much, much bigger, solo-hunter variants of the standard Knarlocs. If a lesser Knarloc is a Velociraptor, the great one is a beaky T-Rex.
- Krootors are swamp-dwelling, amphibious predators, essentially a Krootified alligator. Their only known appearance in the canon so far is in The Screaming Vortex, on the planet Asphodel.
Kroot: Shoot like Tau with bolters. Move and hit like Eldar. Die like Guardsmen. (And have an amour save that will save them from lasguns and nothing else—16% of the time.) New codex note: now Kroot are strength 3, their weapons are AP5 in close combat, and they lost an attack. What did they gain? 1 point sniper round upgrades. We sniper now. Have fun taking out monstrous creatures and leaders.
|Forces of the Tau|
|Command:||Cadre Fireblade - Ethereal - Tau Commander|
|Troops:||Drone Squadron - Fire Warrior Team - Pathfinder Team - Stealthsuit Team|
|Auxiliaries:|| Great Knarloc - Kroot Carnivore Squad - Kroot Hound |
Krootox - Lesser Knarloc - Vespid Stingwing - Gue'vesa
|Battlesuits:|| Battlesuits (XV02 Pilot Battlesuit - XV15 Stealthsuit - XV22 Command Suit |
XV25 Stealthsuit - XV46 Vanguard Void Suit - XV-8 Crisis Battlesuit
XV88 Broadside Battlesuit - XV9 Hazard Battlesuit - XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit
XV104 Riptide Battlesuit - XV107 R'varna Battlesuit - XV109 Y'Vahra Battlesuit
KV128 Stormsurge Ballistic Suit - KX139 Ta'Unar Supremacy Armour)
|Vehicles:||Devilfish - Hammerhead - Piranha - Sky Ray - Tetra|
|Flyers:||Barracuda - Manta - Orca - Razorshark - Remora - Sun Shark - Tiger Shark|