The Kroot (scientific name Krootis aviana, referenced by the Imperium as Kroot Carnivore) are a humanoid species of xenos. They appear throughout the galaxy, but are most frequently associated with the Tau Empire.
Biology and Appearance
The Kroot originated on the world of Pech and, though their physiology is humanoid, there is evidence to suggest that the roots of their evolution may be avian in origin. They retain vestigial beaks and have a light, almost hollow bone structure, with four digits on each hand and foot. Their skin is rough with small, barbed spines, similar to the elongated quills on their heads, protruding from various locations on their flesh. Skin pigmentation ranges from earthy brown colours and dappled greens to vibrant oranges and everything in between. Depending on the feeding directions of the Kroot Shapers, the colouration of each kindred can vary quite considerably. It is also common for Kroot from each kindred to have particular tribal markings painted onto their skin. Kroot mature quickly, with their most rapid period of growth occurring in the first ten years of their lives. By the age of twelve they are considered adults and it is not unknown for Kroot to live to over a hundred years old, their skin becoming increasingly pitted and leathery in their last few years of life.[Needs Citation]
Kroot are tall and their bodies have a wiriness to them that appears deceptively fragile. In actuality, Kroot musculature is extremely powerful and composed of dense fiber spindles with a greater power‑to‑mass ratio than is found in humans. Swift muscle contractions create a whiplash effect, allowing the Kroot to deliver powerful blows with great rapidity. On the ground, the Kroot tend to move with a bounding, hopping gait, but in dense forests, they can spring from tree to tree at great speed. The Kroot favour primitive garb: harnesses worked from the hides of animals and adorned with bones, handcrafted amulets and circlets.
The limited specimens that have been made available for study are found to have brains composed of a front and rear hemisphere. It appears that the larger, frontal hemisphere controls the functions of logic, reasoning and memory while the rear, less developed hemisphere is more attuned to imagination and creativity. If this is indeed the case, it would go some way to explaining the pragmatic approach to life of the Kroot and their current technological stagnation.[Needs Citation]
The Kroot head is crowned with a great mass of tough, flexible quills that appear to be a part of the Kroot's sensory apparatus. These quills contain what seem to be ganglia running from the frontal lobes of the alien's brain and, in this position, would be extremely efficient at receiving and interpreting information on the surrounding environment. The olfactory cavity within the Kroot skull is also enlarged, with multiple sense organs within both it and the mouth. Their eyes are without pupils and generally a milky white. It is likely that they are able to see further into the infrared end of the spectrum and can sense the body heat generated by their prey. Therefore, the Kroot make excellent trackers and would be extremely difficult to sneak up on.[Needs Citation]
The Kroot generate little in the way of waste, excreting in the form of a pungent, oily sweat that has a variety of properties, depending on what the Kroot has consumed. The most apparent benefits are that this sweat appears to be heat-retardant to a degree, has antibiotic properties and can cause a poorly-aimed blow to slide clear. It is suspected that the Kroot can alter the properties of this secretion in order to leave pheromone trails, mark territories, leave warnings and even communicate with one another. This may also be some form of control that extends to lower life forms such as birds and animals, as there is evidence to suggest that the Kroot employ empathic pheromones to prevent such creatures from being startled by them and giving away their position in battle. Combined with this method of communication, the Kroot can learn new languages at an astounding rate, matching posture and tone to the sound of foreign words in order to discern their meaning. Their own verbal communication is a mixture of clicks and whistles, possibly reinforced by these pheromone exudations.[Needs Citation]
A unique feature of the Kroot is that they evolve by absorbing the traits of other species, a process accomplished by eating their flesh. Due to this, the many Kroot warbands across the galaxy often look radically different. Kroot leaders are known as Shapers; they are generally the Kroot with the instinctive ability to recognising desirable or detrimental traits in defeated foes and instruct his kindred what to eat to suit the task at hand. For instance, a Shaper who wants his Kroot to gain muscle mass will take on campaigns against Orks to acquire the right DNA, while extensive feeding on flying predators will allow the Kroot to grow wings.[Needs Citation]
This eating of their foes ties in with the religious beliefs of the Kroot: they believe that when a warrior of any race dies, his warrior spirit should be kept, and the only way to do this is by eating his flesh. The Kroot practice this in their "burial" customs, in which the body of the deceased is consumed by the kindred.[Needs Citation]
Kroot who prey extensively on a particular species will begin to take the characteristics of that creature. In sentient species such as Orks and Humans, they may also take on cultural aspects of that race as well. Kroot who have fed on Dark Eldar, for example, soon begin to show signs of the cunning and intense cruelty the Dark Eldar are known for.[Needs Citation]
The Kroot digestive system is extremely efficient, capable of breaking down almost any organic material into an energy form that can be stored in specialised organs scattered throughout their bodies, called nymnes. Should anything inorganic and indigestible be consumed, the Kroot must regurgitate it, with considerable discomfort.[Needs Citation]
However the strangest quirk of Kroot digestion is their ability to extract potentially useful strands of their food's DNA. Adeptus Mechanicus Genetors have long been aware that much of the double helix structure of DNA is in fact blank and used to separate those areas that do contain genetic information. The Kroot have somehow inherited the ability to incorporate useful DNA codes into their own genetic makeup.[Needs Citation]
The process is not an exact science and there are many examples where it has gone awry, leaving some trapped in evolutionary cul-de-sacs, the Krootox and Kroot Hounds being the most visible evidence of this. At some point in their evolutionary history, both sub‑species of Kroot fed upon creatures that were possessed of traits they wished to take on, but, in doing so, atrophied their intelligence. These Krootox are now much larger and stronger, but became lumbering creatures, more akin to forest-dwelling herbivores than their smaller, more intelligent kin. The Kroot Hounds became faster and leaner but, like the Krootox, their intelligence was reduced, becoming little more than vicious predators.[Needs Citation] The Kroot use these variants of themselves as labourers, pack animals, mounts, and even as weapons, especially the gargantuan Knarloc.
There are other variations, such as the smaller, flying Kroothawk (which is revered by Kroot as a possible evolutionary ancestor) and the serpentine Krootworm, as well as other, more terrifying, creatures. Deep within the forests of Pech, there exist beasts that were once Kroot, but have since descended hideous evolutionary paths to become monsters that feed on their own kind. Such places have become cursed and only the bravest or most foolhardy Kroot ever venture within their haunted depths.[Needs Citation]
There are at least three species which Kroot are forbidden to eat:
- Tyranids, which the Shapers have declared inedible (which means something far more horrible to a kroot than it does to a human), and because the Shapers are inherently repulsed by the Tyranid's particular way of changing their genetic makeup.
- Humans who worship Chaos (though this is a bit of a hit and miss affair, such cultists being hard to distinguish from the average human).
- The Tau, due to their role in saving the Kroot's homeworld of Pech from Orks; consuming Tau flesh is a crime that brings swift and deadly retribution from the Shapers.
History and Culture
In order to gather genetic material from all over the galaxy, the Kroot offer themselves as mercenaries, and sell their services to anyone willing to pay them. They travel the galaxy taking limited contracts from both major and minor races, and are regularly employed by the Tau. While the contract with the Tau is supposed to be an exclusive one, the Kroot regularly send out their Warspheres to continue their mercenary trade amongst the wider cosmos.[Needs Citation]
Union with the Tau
In order to combat the Orks, who occupied much of the Kroots core worlds (including their homeworld of Pech), the Kroot agreed to establish an alliance with the Tau Empire in 844.M38 at the behest of Anghkor Prok. Within a decade of their first battle side-by-side (known as the War in the Place of Union), the Tau and Kroot had jointly liberated Kroot from the greenskins. Since then, the Kroot core worlds have fought loyally for the Tau and Greater Good, provided they receive sufficient payment.
The primeval aggression of the Kroot make them effective shock troops, though their savage veiewed with distaste by their Tau allies. The habits of the Kroot are still tolerated, at least so long as they don't eat fallen Tau warriors.
First contact with the Imperium
The Kroots' first encounter with the Imperium was during the Damocles Crusade on the world of Sy'l'Kell. Troops of the Brimlock 17th Dragoons were in transit to the front lines from their Landing zone when they were ambushed by Kroot. The column's forward scouts were eliminated by Kroot Carnivores before they could get a warning off to the regiment following behind. As the main body of the regiment pushed through a narrow forested defile, the Kroot fell on them. Three Kroot kindred were involved in the attack. Surprise was complete and scores were killed in the opening moments of the ambush. Colonel Konstantin Griffin and Commissar Eigerman quickly recovered and held the Imperial line long enough to fight clear of the trap. From then on the column was continually harried by the Kroot, until Colonel Griffin linked up with the Space Marines of the Scythes of the Emperor. With the two Imperial forces combined the Kroot faded away deeming the combined strength too much for direct confrontation.
Outwardly, the Kroot seem to be a simple pre-industrial society, seemingly incapable of achieving powered flight, much less travelling through space. However, Tau observers on Pech have noted evidence that may point to an industrial base hidden on or even inside of some mountains. It's probable that the Kroot deliberately keep their general level of technology low, using it only for weapons and interstellar travel, in order to keep their species strong.
The primary weapon deployed by the Kroot is a rifle whose design is derived from the fighting staffs used by their ancestors. This weapon is fitted with blades on the stock and the end of the barrel, which the Kroot make deadly use of in close combat. Originally a slug-thrower, the weapon was modified by the Tau to fire a charged particle similar to their own Pulse Rifles. This modification quickly became standard for all Kroot.[Needs Citation]
The Kroot Rifle is not the only weapon the Kroot make use of. There is the large Kroot gun, which is tied onto the backs of Krootox. Next, there is the Kroot hunting rifle. Longer then the Kroot gun, the Kroot hunting rifle has a potentially longer range, but the Kroot must remove the attached blades.
Moreover, Kroot mercenaries often bring back weapons from previous employers, further diversifying their armoury.[Needs Citation]
The Silver Skulls of the Adeptus Astartes encountered Kroot that had assimilated DNA from the Eldar and gained powerful psychic powers, which allowed them to cover themselves in an illusionary disguise that hid their true nature, appearing instead as dark, midnight-blue creatures with smooth skin, long sinewy limbs, clawed fingers, and large amethyst-purple eyes set in a comparatively small, elongated face that came to a triangular point with two nostril slits at the end, no visible ears, and a mouth full of a double set of razor-sharp teeth. Their psychic disguise was only ruptured when their cerebral connection was broken, such as when their head was severed, after which they would revert back to their true Kroot form.
They also displayed the ability to generate multiple psychic illusions of themselves in battle, which appeared to their enemies as completely corporeal and capable of causing harm. However the illusions were extremely vulnerable to psychic attacks and would dispel back into thin air when hit by one.
The Silver Skulls recognised that Kroot with psychic potential posed a grave threat to the Imperium and recommended the planet where they were encountered on be cleansed.
- Anghkor Prok - A Master Shaper and legendary Kroot hero who fought against the Orkish invasion of Pech.
- Orak (or Orek) - A Kroot Shaper fighting under Commander Brightsword that met with Colonel Schaeffer, Kage and other Last Chancers, first helping them out of a bar fight (started by Tarellian mercenaries, in which they were badly outnumbered), and then by taking them back to their camp, where he tests the mettle and loyalty of the Last Chancers by making Kage eat a Human brain. As a Shaper, he states that both Tau and Human empires are doomed by their own stagnancy and superstition, as only constant change and adaptation can ensure survival. "As we learn from our ancestors, we change and adapt. We learn from our prey and grow stronger. The future is uncertain, to stagnate is to die." (Orak to Kage)
- Gorok - a Kroot Shaper met by Ciaphas Cain who helped keep the peace between loyalist and xenos-following Imperial citizens on the planet Gravalax.[3b]
- 1: WD263us, p. 96, Index Xenos: The Kroot
- 2: Kill Team (Novel) by Gavin Thorpe, Chapter Six, pgs. 201-208
- 3: For the Emperor (Novel) – Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium (Omnibus) by Sandy Mitchell
- 4: Xenology by Simon Spurrier, p. 49-50
- 5: Primary Instinct (Short Story) by Sarah Cawkwell
- 6: Deathwatch: Mark of the Xenos, pg.19
- 7: The Art of Warhammer 40,000, pg.216
- 8: Codex: Tau Empire (6th Edition), pg.49
- 9: Only War: Enemies of the Imperium, pg.100
- 10: Codex: Necrons (7th Edition) - A New Epoch Begins
- 11: Codex: Tau Empire (7th Edition), pg. 35, Alien Auxiliaries
|Leaders||Master Shaper • Shaper • Shaper Council|
|Kindred||Carnivore • Headhunter • Hunter • Stalker • Tracker • Vulture|
|Beasts||Kroot Hound • Krootox • Knarloc • Great Knarloc|
|Tau Castes||Ethereal • Air • Earth • Fire • Water|
|Allied Races||Kroot • Vespid • Nicassar • Demiurg • Galg • Tarellian|
Ji'atrix • Morralian • Ranghon • Hrenian • Greet • Nagi
Brachyura • Formosian • Anthrazod • G’nosh • Yabi-Yabi
|Military||Fire Warriors • Kor'vattra • Auxiliaries|
|Other||Sept • Greater Good • Tau Lexicon|
|Notable Characters||Aun'Va • Aun'shi • O'Shaserra • O'Shovah • Puretide • El'Myamoto • T'au Sha'ng|