"They are fierce indeed these Kroot, and savage. I look upon them and tremble at their ferocity. I can only hope that when the enemy sees them they tremble as I do."
- – Por'vre Tau Cho, Water caste envoy
The Kroot (Krootis aviana) are a vassal species to the Tau Empire. Rather bitey. Basically carnivorous space chickens who look like a cross between the dreadlocked aliens from Predator and ancient Terran terror birds, with a bit of D&D's Aarakocra thrown in. 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 an old Chapter Approved (and thus no longer legal).
For those interested, there's Codex - Kroots: /tg/'s 9th Edition, a high-quality and balanced 9th-ed Fan-Dex. Most people will let you use it in a friendly game.
As of the most recent Dark Eldar codex, the Haemonculus Covens has taken a liking to the way Kroot gastronomy reacts to evolution and had conducted a gigantic raid which, to put it lightly, utterly destroyed Pech a new one. The Dark Eldar pretty much Looted nearly the entire biosphere of Pech including a several dozen Kroot Shapers, seriously we aren't even joking on the whole looted part. Essentially the Dark Eldar almost Exterminatus an entire planet through sheer theft that would make a Bloody Magpie proud. Suffice it to say, Pech was saved by a counterattack by the Tau, but by then it was too little too late. The Kroot's homeworld lay devastated and the rescuing Tau party was greeted with a grisly scene of mutilated Kroot corpses laid out in Eldar Lexicon which translates to, "Welcome to the feast." The Tau in all their naive weeaboo hats, promptly shat themselves a brown stinky brick whilst the captured Kroots were promptly turned into KFC. Since that day, the Tau have encountered many similar messages on their worlds, which may just paint a sign that our little weeaboos will be the Dark Eldar's new buddy.
It is uncertain, and probably unlikely, that we will ever get a kroot codex thanks to the Imperium centric focus of the setting. Thanks Geedubs. However, we did get Kill Team rules for a Kroot Mercenary faction in the January 2019 White Dwarf. Strictly fun and noncompetitive, but it's something.
GOOD NEWS! With all the new options with Ninth edition, it is now possible to run a mostly Kroot Army!
Xenology suggests that the reason Kroot are humanoid, able to walk and think, and able to build weapons and spacecraft is because 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. Maybe the kroot lick their plates when they are done eating, leading to no spores left behind, 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, who do it purely for lulz), 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 (occasionally chasing it with fresh squeezed blood). 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. The main question though is why would they need sexual reproduction in the first place, since it's goal is intermixing genomes to spread useful genes, and they already have controlled horizontal gene transfer on par with fucking Tyranids, which is orders of magnitude more efficient. Guess, noone in GeeDubs attended Genetics 101.
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 Awesome. There is no contention that Kroot are exponentially cooler than Gungans. More meat? Good! BWWAAAK!
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.
Kroot also have shamans (psykers). They pilot warp ships called Warspheres; very large, spherical vessels of dubious quality but nonetheless capable of warp travel. Warspheres also double as mobile communities for the Kroot when they are away from Pech.
In the short story "Warsphere", which all of ten people have read, where Dahyak Grekh of Blackstone Fortress fame tricks a dark eldar Archon into giving up the location of said Blackstone Fortress, we gain a little bit of insight into the technology and culture of the Kroot on their eponymous space-cities. On a spiritual level, the Kroot believe in a warrior-spirit named Vawk the Huntress, who assumedly blessed the Warsphere of the story, and that vast chambers and halls of their ships are carved with the histories of the Kindred who made them. We also learn that the Kroot are incredibly proud of their heritage, and even think its funny that someone would try to repair a warsphere, thinking that no one but the Kroot could understand its technology. Oh, and that the Kroot can learn the memories of the things they eat, such as the location of a Blackstone Fortress. On a technological level, they are riddled with traps that are impossible to disarm without the aid of a Kroot, as their user manuals consist of memory-imbued scraps of flesh and totemic symbols. Oh, also, Warspheres have mechanical birds that defend the insides.
The book Liber Xenologicus gives more details on the Kroot religion. In their origin myth, Vawk the Huntress flied across the primordial chaos of the Nothingsea until she encountered the rival god Gmork. This battle was so intense that it created the stars and planets of the galaxy. Vawk gained Gmork's strength by drinking his blood and so was able to defeat him, but it was a short lived victory as his blood was poisonous. Her last act before perishing was to descend to the planet Pech, where her feathers became the forest and bones became the mountains, and vomit a great flock of eagles into the sky. This is likely a crude genetic memory of the Kroot's original evolution into sapience by eating Orks.
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 atavistic form. As a consequence, every animal-filled 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) As of 8th, Kroot lost infiltrate for a Scout move, and hit like Space Marines in close combat.
Do you like to win more than you like to have fun? No? Good, you might enjoy a nearly-full Kroot list in the 8th ed. version of the Kroot Mercenaries. You sadly have no warlord, so you'll have to drag along that blasted Ethereal or two for the HQ detachment, but after that you have a lot of freedom.
Kroot carnivores are your troops choice, followed by one of three elites: Dahyak Grekh, Krootox Riders, or Kroot shapers. Take them all because why not. After that, fill your fast attack with plenty of Kroot Doggos and some Knarloc Riders, and top off your Heavy Support slot with a Greater Knarloc.
You're not likely to win anything with this army, and the Ethereals will do nothing but give leadership and some extra melee for you, but you are basically free to goof around. You aren't strong or competitive in any way, but part of this hobby is fun, so shut up and have fun.
A slight issue with the Kroot range is that it's incredibly small and unsupported. In that, GW has only ever made a handful of kits for them, the majority being metal or resin. The only plastic Kroot kit is the carnivores, while knarlocs and great knarlocs, their most badass kits, haven't been supported in years.
However, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, my fellow bird-lovers! If you don't mind 3rd party, there's a seller on Etsy that makes off-brand Kroot models that are honestly pretty fucking fire. He's made remodels of the long-lost knarlocs, resin prints of hounds, alternative bits to make regular Kroot look sci-fi, and even has some GSC/Kroot prints. Honestly he does a good job, nuff said.
|Forces of the Tau|
|Command:||Cadre Fireblade - Ethereal - Ethereal Guard - Tau Commander|
|Troops:||Drone Squadron - Fire Warrior Team - Pathfinder Team - Stealthsuit Team|
|Auxiliaries:||Gue'vesa - Kroot (Great Knarloc - Kroot Carnivore Squad - Kroot Hound |
Krootox - Lesser Knarloc - Shaper) - Nicassar - Vespid Stingwing
|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 - Hover Chair - Piranha - Sky Ray - Tetra - Swordfish|
|Flyers:||Barracuda - Razorshark - Remora - Sun Shark - Tiger Shark|
|Kor'Vattra:||Manta - Orca - Automated Fighting Drone |
Automated Barge Drone - Automated Bombing Drone